Last night’s lineup wasn’t great, but it didn’t include Didi Gregorius who clubbed two homers off of Corey Kluber en route to a Yankees Game 5 victory. That said, the lineup did include both Stephen Strasburg who was lights out and tossed seven innings of scoreless ball to go with 12 strikeouts, and outfielder Michael Taylor whose eighth inning Grand Slam punctuated the Nationals’ Game 4 victory heading into Game 5 this evening. The Yankees haven’t named a starter for tomorrow’s Game 1 against the Astros, but I feel strongly that it will be Sonny Gray, so I will be basing this lineup off of that assumption. Let’s go!
P – Gio Gonzalez (WAS) – $7,700 vs. CHC
Gonzalez is extremely affordable, but that’s not even the reason I am rolling with him on this slate. I am rolling with him due to the fact he had an excellent season, posting a sub-3.00 ERA while racking up strikeouts at a 22.7% clip. The strikeout upside increases against a Cubs team that can certainly be strikeout prone at times as evidenced by their six strikeouts against Gonzalez in just five innings earlier this series. All active Cubs players have combined to strikeout in 25.8% of their at-bats against Gonzalez and I look for him to pitch the Nationals to victory at home tonight.
P – Dallas Keuchel (HOU) – $9,200 vs. NYY
The Yankees are certainly another team that is prone to the strikeout. They struck out a whopping 16 times in last night’s ALDS series victory over the Indians and Keuchel struck out seven Red Sox in his Game 1 victory in the ALDS. He struck out hitters at a decent 21.4% clip during the regular season but with the Yankees coming to town that number could be in for a big increase. Current Yankees’ hitters have combined to strike out at a 33% clip against Keuchel in their careers.
C – Willson Contreras (CHC) – $3,900 vs. WAS
I expect Gio to pitch well, but as a GPP strategy I don’t mind rostering a hitter that home run upside against him. Contreras mashed left-handed pitching this season to the tune of a .243 ISO, .916 OPS and a .386 wOBA to go along with a 34.1% hard contact clip. He has also gotten to Gonzalez in his career with two homers in just three regular season at-bats and a homer against him in Game 2 of this series as well.
1B – Yuli Gurriel (HOU) – $3,600 vs. NYY
Sonny Gray’s pitching splits were a little bit reversed this year, and with Gurriel’s hitting splits also being reverse, we have a nice double reverse splits scenario on our hands. Gurriel hit righties for a .204 ISO, .865 OPS and a .363 wOBA this season, all of which are significantly higher than his figure against lefties. Gray’s 1.22 HR/9 allowed to lefties is higher than his 0.86 figure to righties, so let’s roll with the Astros’ first baseman tomorrow night.
2B – Daniel Murphy (WAS) – $4,200 vs. CHC
Murphy was the Nationals’ second best hitter against righties this season and also holds some favorable history against Hendricks. Murphy crafted a big .332 batting average and a .396 wOBA against right-handed pitching this season and 4 for 17 with three homers and a double in his career against Hendricks. I am looking for a big time out of the Nationals’ second baseman tonight.
3B – Alex Bregman (HOU) – $3,900 vs. NYY
We have another righty-on-righty scenario here against Gray, and while Bregman was better against lefties this season he still hit righties for a solid .332 wOBA and posted a big .378 overall wOBA in the second half. Bregman had two home runs and a double in the four-game ALDS series win over the Red Sox so he continues to swing a hot bat for the Astros.
SS – Trea Turner (WAS) – $4,500 vs. CHC
While Hendricks has been worse to left-handed hitters this season, he also gives up stolen bases and thus we once again have big stolen base upside here with Turner. He didn’t swipe any off of Arrieta last night, but he did go 1 for 3 with a double and two walks, breaking out of a 0 for 12 postseason slump in the process. If his bat is hot, heads up for the dynamic Turner to be a game changer tonight.
OF – Bryce Harper (WAS) – $4,900 vs. CHC
While Turner didn’t steal a base yesterday, Harper did and while he also carries more stolen base upside into tonight’s game, clearly we want him for the power in this matchup against Hendricks. While it looks like there is more wind blowing in today, it’s not going to be as vicious as last night at Wrigley which gives us our home run upside back here. Harper had 47 extra-base hits against righties this season and the Nationals need him to up that number a couple notches in tonight’s matchup.
OF – Michael Taylor (WAS) – $3,600 vs. CHC
Yesterday’s hero Taylor surely gained some confidence from his big swing against Wade Davis, but I am rostering Taylor for his stolen base upside in this one. Hendricks gave up 13 steals in only 139.2 innings this season, and Taylor swiped 17 bases in 432 plate appearances this season. That said, he did hit 19 home runs as well so the power/stolen base upside is real here with Taylor.
OF – Marwin Gonzalez (HOU) – $4,100 vs. NYY
You could go with Josh Reddick in this spot as well, but I believe Gonzalez will be hitting closer to Bregman and especially Gurriel so let’s go with the utility man in this spot. Gonzalez had an excellent season against righties, hitting them for a .322 average to go along with a .230 ISO, .946 OPS and a .397 wOBA. He has just one extra-base hit in the postseason but with these numbers against righties number two shouldn’t be far away.