This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
Ready or not, playoff baseball starts Tuesday afternoon, with the American League's four Wild Card matchups beginning at 2:00 p.m. EDT. As you'd expect, it's a top-loaded slate for pitching, and with just eight teams, differentiating your lineups can be challenging. It's an interesting slate to navigate offensively as well, with only two bats priced at $4k.
Shane Bieber, CLE vs. NYY ($11,200): Despite the salary, it's tough to fade Bieber after his absolutely dominant season. He never allowed more than three runs in an outing, failed to go at least six innings just twice and fanned at least eight every time out, resulting in a 37 FDP floor. It's a less than stellar matchup however, with the Yankees fanning only 21.4 percent of the time against righties while ranking fourth with a .348 wOBA.
Gerrit Cole, NYY at CLE ($10,900): The other side of this heavyweight matchup, Cole's situation is more favorable against a Cleveland side that sports a .305 wOBA while striking out 23.8 percent of the time. Cole went through a brief rough patch in late August/early September, allowing nine runs in two outings against Atlanta and the Rays, and he's allowed a career-high 1.73 HR/9. But Cole closed the year in great form, turning in four straight quality starts while winning three, allowing one or no runs and striking out at least seven in each. These are the moments he was signed for, and I expect he'll deliver.
Blake Snell, TAM vs. TOR ($8,300): Snell is going to be a popular pay-down option on the bump, and it's the lone matchup where the teams met each other during the regular season. Snell worked 7.2 innings over two outings against the Jays, fanning a whopping 14 while allowing two runs and seven hits. That's clearly targetable against a team with limited postseason experience, but it's worth noting Snell hasn't worked more than 5.2 innings in a start all season, and while he was successful against the Jays, Toronto only fanned 23.7 percent of the time against lefties. His ceiling was 39 FDP, still a solid 4.7x times value, but far from elite.
Matt Shoemaker, TOR at TAM ($7,100): Full disclosure, I didn't set out to spotlight arms on both sides of two matchups. Shoemaker checks in as the cheapest arm though, and that's going to make him attractive for GPPs. The Rays are also a little banged up, with no Austin Meadows and likely no Ji-Man Choi. They strike out 26.3 percent of the time, and Shoemaker got them for 17 Ks across 15 innings this season, resulting in three of his four best FDP outings.
Jose Abreu, CWS at OAK ($3,900): While the rest of the White Sox limped to the finish, Abreu carried his own weight, failing to accumulate points just once since Sept 11 and averaging 16.5 FDP over the final 16 games. He posted a .308 ISO against lefties during the year, and owns a .363 wOBA and 131 wRC+ against southpaws since the start of 2019. His strong close makes him a far safer option than Tim Anderson, who's a well known lefty masher, against Jesus Luzardo.
Nelson Cruz, MIN vs. HOU ($3,900): Stacking righties against Zack Greinke is what we want, as he's allowing a .354 wOBA to them compared to a .234 wOBA to lefties. The problem is the Twins' splits either include favorable lefties in Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler, or injured righties like Byron Buxton and Josh Donaldson. As such, we'll settle for Cruz's stability, as he brings a .360 wOBA and .246 ISO into the postseason.
Vladimir Guerrero, TOR at TAM ($3,300): Guerrero surged at the end of the regular season, posting a .464 wOBA, 201 wRC+, .450 ISO and 57.1 percent hard hit rate against lefties in September. It oddly came with an increase in strikeouts (25.0 percent versus 18.7 percent over the course of the year). Guerrero averaged 15.9 FDP over the Jays' final seven games.
Randy Arozarena, TAM vs. TOR ($3,000): There's absolutely no cash game floor, but Arozarena is a GPP target, having launched seven homers in the season's final month en route to a .349 wOBA and .250 ISO. His 37.7 percent K-rate shows you how likely a goose egg is, but there's upside and a cheap buy into an offense facing the cheapest arm on the slate.
Stack to Consider
We have to get creative in playoff settings, and here's a GPP stack to think over in hopes of differentiating. Grossman is a cheap anchor, carrying a .370 wOBA, 140 wRC+ and .260 ISO into the postseason. Olson and Lamb are a couple power upside lefties who could pay off. Giolito's splits are all over the place, as he's allowing a 2.62 xFIP on the road and a 3.33 xFIP to lefties, but a 40.5 hard-hit rate to lefties on the road, and a 48.0 hard-hit rate to righties. It's not a line worth banking on, but Olson is 4-of-6 with two HR against Giolito, while Lamb took him deep in their only matchup prior.