This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
The ALCS gets underway Friday evening from Houston at 8:07 p.m et with the Red Sox traveling to face the Astros. It's a battle of the two hottest offenses in the playoffs, with Boston scoring 32 runs in five games, and Houston 31 in four. The Red Sox have been mashing, clubbing 11 homers thus far in route to a team .919 OPS.
Boston, maybe somewhat surprisingly, will turn to Chris Sale to open the series. Sale struggled in the ALDS, allowing five runs on four hits in just one inning against Tampa. We largely know what to expect from him; high strike out totals and a short hook given his limited innings this season coming off of injury. He's been far worse in limited road action, allowing a 4.61 ERA and 4.13 xFIP against 2.48/2.97 at Fenway. He's also far more getable for righties, allowing a .355 wOBA that rises to .396 on the road, against a .149 wOBA to lefties.
Houston counters with their own lefty in Framber Valdez, who was unspectacular against the White Sox in the ALDS, allowing four runs and seven hits while fanning six in 4.1 innings. His season-long body of work was far better posting a 3.14 ERA and 3.58 xFIP. While he fans only 8.4 per nine, he leads the majors with an obscene 70.3 percent ground ball rate, leading to just 0.80 HR/9. Boston may be forced to manufacture more runs than they have recently as a result.
Houston's offense as a club ranked fourth during the regular season, and Boston's eighth, in wOBA against lefties, so we should have plenty of choices at multiple pricing levels. If we throw out the left-handed bats given Sale's splits, we're got just that; options at different tiers. Yuli Gurriel ($6,000) has the team's best stats against lefties, posting a .389 wOBA to go with a .204 ISO and 151 wRC+. He'd certainly make for a low-used MVP, but figures to be relatively highly-used overall. If looking for bigger names to anchor, we're looking at Carlos Correa ($8,500) and/or Alex Bregman ($6,500). Neither had elite power against lefties during the year, posting a .156 and .142 ISO, respectively. But a .368 wOBA and 138 wRC+ for Correa and a .358 wOBA and .131 wRC+ work. Both have a history of playoff success, and were a combined 11-of-29 (.379) in the ALDS, scoring eight runs, driving in eight and walking six times.
Overall, Valdez has allowed a .320 wOBA to lefties and .281 to righties. That doesn't make for many immediately obvious Red Sox target. You pair that with the names atop Boston's leaderboard against lefties, and there's further ambiguity (more on that below). But in very limited exposure (50 plate appearances) Valdez allowed a .424 wOBA to lefties at home, including three homers 1.004 OPS. Perhaps that makes it easier to consider Rafael Devers ($9,000) at that hefty tag. He hit safely in all four games against Tampa, including two homers. Xander Bogaerts ($7,500) has homered twice in the postseason as well, and while he's been a bit feast or famine game to game, he appears out of whatever ailed him in the regular season's second half, and given the price difference, I like him as my top Boston bat, likely surrounding him with Astros above.
Houston is loaded with top-end left-handed bats as well, many of whom have positive numbers against lefties. Of those, Kyle Tucker ($8,000) is my favorite. He posted a .378 wOBA and .292 ISO during the regular season, has homered in four of his last six, and stole two bases to close out the ALDS, allowing him to alter the game in multiple ways. I'm obliged to mention Jose Altuve ($9,500) here as the slate's highest-priced option. His season-long numbers against lefties don't support this tag, but he's had a 9.2 FDP floor across his last six games. I won't talk you off of him.
Boston offers so many options that hit lefties well during the regular season that aren't household names; heck, some aren't even guaranteed to be in the lineup. Pairing season-long stats and ALDS form, Enrique Hernandez ($6,000) is by far the best option. Hunter Renfroe ($5,500) and Bobby Dalbec ($5,000) offer some power upside for GPP lineups, as does a more obvious Kyle Schwarber ($7,000) if believing in the LvL matchup. Finally, Christian Arroyo ($4,500) checks in at the bottom of the pricing tiers, posted a .377 wOBA, .200 ISO and 136 wRC+ against lefties during the regular season, and received 16 ABs in the ALDS, collecting five hits. He's the best bet of the pay downs to at least play, and allow you to load up with bigger names elsewhere.