This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
With the Wild Card round in our rearview mirror, both ALDS series will get underway Thursday. Fresh off their defeat of the Yankees, the Red Sox will now have the daunting task of trying to knock off the Rays. In the other series, the Astros and White Sox will meet in a game that has the potential to provide a special pitching matchup between Lance Lynn and Lance McCullers Jr. Let's discuss some of the better players to target as you build your lineups on DraftKings.
The Rays aren't shy about using any pitcher in any situation, so it should come as no surprise that they have decided to start rookies in both of the first two games of their series. Taking the mound in Game 1 will be Shane McClanahan ($7,700), who was excellent with a 3.43 ERA and a 3.31 FIP during the regular season. He has plenty of swing-and-miss upside, as well, given his 27.3 percent strikeout rate. If there is one downside to him, it's that he doesn't always pitch deep into games, having logged five innings or fewer in each of his final five starts. Still, with only four pitchers to choose from, he's one of the more appealing options.
If you're looking to load up on hitters with pricey salaries, then taking a chance on Eduardo Rodriguez ($6,700) against the Rays could be an option. His 4.74 ERA was certainly underwhelming, but he had a 3.32 FIP to go along with a 27.4 percent strikeout rate. Also, he held the Rays to three or fewer earned runs in three of the four starts that he made against them during the regular season.
It was a strange finish to the season for Lance Lynn ($7,700). Over his last seven starts, he allowed two or fewer runs five times. However, in the other two games during that stretch, he allowed seven and six runs, respectively. Those duds also came against two underwhelming lineups in the Cubs and Indians. The only other time he faced the Astros this season, he gave up six runs across four innings. If the Astros have similar success in their rematch, Yordan Alvarez ($4,300) and Kyle Tucker ($4,100) could be right in the thick of the action. Alvarez was one of their anchors of their lineup with his .253 ISO and Tucker had a breakout campaign with his 147 wRC+.
If you don't decide to take a chance on Rodriguez as one of your pitchers, then rolling with Nelson Cruz ($3,900) at his cheap salary is appealing. He recorded a 142 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers this season and he has a career 152 wRC+ against them.
Going back to the Astros, Michael Brantley ($2,900) could also be a viable target. While he brings very little power to the plate, he doesn't swing-and-miss much, leaving him with just a 10.4 percent strikeout rate during the regular season. That helped him finish with a batting average of at least .300 for the fourth straight season.