This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Saturday's two-game divisional series slate feels a bit like a clearance sale, as many elite arms and bats are available at low salaries. This leaves quite a few decisions to make, not the least of which is how to approach a slate comprised entirely of fantastic starting pitching.
Max Fried ($7,000) capped off his 2021 campaign with a fantastic month of September that saw him post a 1.54 ERA over 41 innings while allowing a season-low .212 wOBA to opposing hitters. The Brewers struggled against lefties this year with a bottom-10 wOBA and 24 percent strikeout rate. It's also worth noting the Milwaukee offense hit groundballs at the eighth-highest rate, while Fried kept a groundball rate of 52 percent.
The salaries of Kevin Gausman ($7,600) and Julio Urias ($7,800) present a difficult decision, as one would be hard-pressed to find elite pitchers at these salaries during any other point during the season. While rostering both and finding offense elsewhere is certainly an option, those looking for a way to separate the two will note Gausman struggled to close out the regular season with a 4.05 ERA in September and October. Urias kept the train moving down the stretch by posting a 2.06 ERA with 35 strikeouts across 35 frames.
Readers have probably noticed I'm focusing heavily on the final month of the season when it comes to evaluating today's pitchers. The reason for this is potential fatigue on the part of those who may not be used to throwing so many innings. In the cases of Gausman and Brandon Woodruff, 2021 represents the most innings either has ever thrown in a single year. Like Gausman, Woodruff also showed a decline in September/October with a 4.09 ERA over 22 innings. Freddie Freeman's ($4,300) power took a bit of a backseat this season, but he was able to retain value by logging a .398 wOBA against right-handed pitching in 429 at-bats.
I mentioned Gausman's struggles down the stretch, but omitted the fact his 4.05 ERA was the result of the 30-year-old giving up seven homers in only 40 frames. Corey Seager ($4,900) missed more than two months after fracturing his hand in May, but was remarkably consistent against both righties and lefties when in the lineup. This contributed to a .215 ISO and .389 wOBA from 353 at-bats.
Lineups are generally set in stone when it comes to the postseason, but Fried's presence on the mound likely means a spot in the order for Manny Pina ($3,100), who's taken on the role of a specialist in a platoon with Omar Narvaez. Pina played his role to a tee with a .286 ISO and .365 wOBA over 77 at-bats. Fried may be a tough nut to crack, but we want to find power hitters against elite arms whenever possible since they're more likely to give up a homer than allow big innings.
Speaking of success against the platoon, Evan Longoria ($3,900) absolutely crushed opposite-handed pitching this year and produced a .318 ISO and .447 wOBA against across 66 at-bats. For as good as Urias has been, it may surprise some to learn his fastball came in slightly below average according to RAA (-0.5). This could provide an opportunity for Longoria and his 12.7 RAA against the heater.
Stacks to Consider
The Dodgers don't feature many lefty bats, but the good news is several hitters in the lineup finished the year with reverse splits. This is true of Smith and Pollock and their ISOs of .259 and .247 against right-handed pitchers, respectively. This should present an opportunity to capitalize on Gausman's recent troubles with the long ball.