What a debacle that Wild Card game was last night. Both pitchers were ousted very early in the game, and in Severino’s case, it was before he could complete one inning. The Yankees managed right runs but unfortunately none of our bats were in on the action. That said, this lineup is going to look very similar to last night’s lineup and is recommended for GPP tournaments as opposed to cash games. Let’s go!
P – Justin Verlander (HOU) – $10,900 vs. BOS
Chris Sale has the higher strikeout upside, however few, if any pitchers in all of baseball matched Verlander’s production down the stretch. As a member of the Astros, Verlander has went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA while posting an 11.40 K/9 clip across five starts. He has been everything and more the Astros have wanted from their new ace. Verlander also has plenty of postseason experience with 16 postseason starts while pitching 98.1 innings of 3.39 ERA ball. The Red Sox are a tough team to strikeout, but Verlander is at his best at the moment and looks prime to throw a gem this evening.
P – Jon Gray (COL) – $7,700 vs. ARI
We will stick with Gray tonight in the NL Wild Card game. Despite calling Coors Field home, Gray has been very consistent this season for the Rockies. After a mid-April injury cost him more than two months, Gray allowed more than three earned runs in just two starts since his late June return. He finished the regular season with a 24.3% strikeout clip and a solid 6.5% walk rate, but that strikeout rate jumped to over 30% against right-handed hitters. This is good news because three of Arizona’s best hitters in Paul Goldschmidt, J.D. Martinez and A.J. Pollock all hit from the right side. Nonetheless Gray does carry risk, but also carries solid upside and nice value upside at this price.
C – Jonathan Lucroy (COL) – $3,300 vs. ARI
We will also stick with our Rockies stack beginning here with Lucroy. Lucroy has certainly enjoyed more productive offensive seasons at the plate, however he has a couple of things going for him in his upcoming matchup against Greinke. In his career against the veteran righty, Lucroy is 7 for 11 with a triple and a walk. He has also raked at Chase Field in his career to the tune of a .980 OPS with four homers across 71 at-bats. He will hit at the end of this Rockies stack on Wednesday night.
1B – Greg Bird (NYY) – $3,700 vs. CLE
We will go with a Yankees’ stack again, this time against Cleveland right-hander Trevor Bauer. Bauer struggled against lefties at times this season, yielding a .356 wOBA to them as well as an elevated 1.74 HR/9 clip. Enter Bird who had an RBI single in last night’s contest and finished the regular season with a .202 ISO against right-handed pitching. Progressive Field in Cleveland can be susceptible to the home run ball to left-handed hitters, and Bird is a strong pull hitter which combined with Bauer’s home run numbers to lefties could be a nice concoction for success.
2B – Jason Kipnis (CLE) – $3,800 vs. NYY
I had Starlin Castro in here yesterday as part of a four-man Yankees’ stack, but I will go with Kipnis here against who I think will be right-hander Sonny Gray for the Yankees (yet to be announced). Kipnis fought injuries all season long which hampered his production, but he finished strong with a .194 ISO, .845 OPS and a .357 wOBA over the last 14 days and 36 plate appearances. He is also slated to hit second in the lineup and carries a bit of stolen base upside as well.
3B – Todd Frazier (NYY) – $3,300 vs. CLE
We will stick with Frazier in this spot as a GPP third baseman. I mentioned that Bauer is worse to left-handed than he is to righties, but Frazier has enjoyed some success against Bauer, and he also hit 27 home runs this season. Frazier is a career 7 for 22 (.318) against Bauer with a homer and a double for an .848 OPS and a .367 against the righty. Not monster numbers, but ones that should be taken into GPP consideration.
SS – Trevor Story (COL) – $4,100 vs. ARI
Story actually has very similar upside as Lucroy in his matchup against Greinke. Like Lucroy, Story has hit Greinke well in his career as he is 8 for 24 (.333) with four home runs, a double and nine RBIs against the right-hander. Also like Lucroy, Story has enjoyed plenty of success hitting at Chase Field with a monster 1.110 OPS at this venue in his career to go along with eight homers, four doubles and a triple across 63 at-bats. As a result, he was an easy play in this lineup.
OF – Charlie Blackmon (COL) – $5,200 vs. ARI
Blackmon is a must in this Rockies stack as he could very well take down the NL MVP this season. Blackmon finished the regular season with a .292 ISO, 1.023 OPS and a .420 wOBA with 11 stolen bases against right-handed pitching. He made hard contact at a 41% clip against righties and clearly boasts cross-category upside out of the leadoff spot for the Rockies in their matchup against Greinke.
OF – Carlos Gonzalez (COL) – $3,700 vs. ARI
Now here is a guy who has really heated up as of late. CarGo certainly did not have a good first half to the season at all with a .118 ISO, .637 OPS and a .267 wOBA. However, in the second half he posted a .217 ISO, .921 OPS and a .390 wOBA. Over the last 14 days, he posted a .286 ISO, 1.097 OPS and a .458 wOBA with a 47% hard hit rate. He also loves to hit against Greinke and at Chase Field. Against Greinke, Gonzalez is a career 14 for 42 (.333) with five home runs, a double and a triple for a 1.140 OPS and a .472 wOBA. In his career at Chase Field he has a .870 OPS with 12 homers and 15 doubles in 219 at-bats.
OF – Aaron Hicks (NYY) – $3,800 vs. CLE
A slight change here from last night as we will go with Aaron Hicks instead of Ellsbury. In the simplest form, Hicks just boasts more power and Ellsbury’s stolen base upside is less against Bauer than it was against Santana. Hicks hit righties for a .214 ISO, .816 OPS and .352 wOBA on the season. He also hit the ball in the air more against righties than he did lefties and the fact he hit lefties even better than he did righties makes him a solid play due to the fact the switch-hitter won’t be overmatched in a bullpen situation.