This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
The Red Sox and Astros are no stranger to deep playoff runs in recent years. In fact, with their elimination of the White Sox, the Astros advanced to their fifth straight ALCS. These two teams also faced off in the 2018 ALCS, which was won by Boston. The series gets underway with a bit of a dark cloud over Houston after it was made aware Thursday that Lance McCullers (forearm) will likely have to miss the entire series. Let's dive into Game 1 and discuss some players to consider for your DraftKings Showdown lineup.
For those new to this format, the player who is selected for the Captain's Pick in your lineup will receive 1.5X the fantasy points. The downside is, whoever you select for that spot, you will also have to pay 1.5X their salary.
The Astros will turn to Framber Valdez ($10,400) to try and start this series off on the right foot. He didn't pitch well in the previous round, though, allowing four runs over 4.1 innings in Game 2. His 10.1 percent walk rate during the regular season is a concern, especially since he doesn't miss a ton of bats given his 21.9 percent strikeout rate. This could be a favorable matchup to roll with J.D. Martinez ($14,100 Captain's Pick) given that he doesn't strikeout out much and that he has a career 150 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers.
Like Valdez, Chris Sale ($10,400) had a rough outing in his ALDS series. He only lasted one inning against the Rays, allowing five runs in a game that the Red Sox actually still managed to win. After returning from Tommy John surgery, Sale had an uncharacteristically high 1.34 WHIP, so he might still be trying to shake off some of the rust. One of the players who might be best able to exploit his troubles is Carlos Correa ($12,000 Captain's Pick), who went 5-for-13 with two doubles and four walks in the ALDS. Another noteworthy stat is that he has a career .367 wOBA versus left-handed pitchers.
Xander Bogaerts ($8,800) had yet another excellent regular season, recording a .198 ISO and a .368 wOBA. He even increased his walk rate to 10.3 percent, which was the second-highest mark of his career. There has been no slowing him down in the playoffs, either, with him hitting 7-for-20 with two home runs over five games.
Although he might not be one of the top options for the Captain's Pick, it might be a good idea to find a way to get Hunter Renfroe ($7,400) into your entry. Right-handed pitchers held him to a .326 wOBA this season, but he had a .375 wOBA versus southpaws.
Another hitter on the Red Sox who has performed well against left-handed hitters is Bobby Dalbec ($6,200). For his career, he has a .296 ISO and a .375 wOBA against them, compared to a .248 ISO and a .325 wOBA versus righties. This matchup might also help him because he has strikeout issues, but Valdez doesn't exactly thrive in that department.
Yuli Gurriel ($7,000) has proven that the 31 home runs he hit in 2019 were basically a fluke. He's never hit more than 18 in any other season of his career and he finished 2021 with 15 of them. However, he had nearly as many walks (59) as he did strikeouts (68) on his way to hitting .319 with a .383 OBP. At his cheap salary, his ability to get on base is appealing.