This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
The Game 7 showdown slate Wednesday seems a bit lopsided on paper due to the recent struggles of one of the starters, but health questions regarding the hurler in the other dugout work to even the scales, and provide us with a number of viable options for our roster construction.
Aside from an uptick in walks, Max Scherzer ($11,200) has been every bit as dominant in October as he was in the regular season, having logged a 35 percent strikeout rate and a 2.16 ERA over 25 innings in the playoffs. While Scherzer would ordinarily be a lock for captain consideration, there are a couple things to mention that may make prospective owners think twice. Chief among them being that Scherzer's walk rate has shot up to a whopping 11 percent this month, pushing his xFIP to 4.04. It also must be stressed that it's unclear how healthy the 35-year-old will be as he enters this contest, as he was a zero-hour scratch from Game 5 due to a pinched nerve in his neck. Scherzer received a cortisone shot and didn't appear to be in any pain while throwing in the bullpen during Game 6, but the idea that he may be less than 100 percent for the decider is one worth considering.
Zack Greinke ($10,400) has been hit hard in the postseason, allowing five home runs in just 18.2 frames. This has been quite a departure for the 36-year-old, who allowed less than one home run per nine innings during the regular season. Those still interested in rostering Greinke should note that his strikeout rate has increased more than two percent since the end of September, but a 4.54 xFIP tells us that it isn't just the homers that have been giving the former Cy Young Award winner problems.
A favorite move of DFS players is to roster both pitchers during Showdown slates, as they have the most opportunities to accrue points. This strategy loses a bit of luster when we consider Greinke's struggles and Scherzer's uncertainty, but the fact remains that both pitchers have shown the ability to throw up zeros. The main thing for prospective owners to think about after making this decision is how they will save money when selecting the two highest priced names on the board. It always makes sense to roster a relief pitcher for this kind of lineup construction, as they are minimum salary and dovetail with the script of a pitcher-controlled game. Will Harris ($3,000) showed his first crack in the armor pitching from behind in Game 6 on Tuesday, but has been lights out in the postseason overall, as he has allowed just the one run (on a home run) in 9.2 frames while striking out 11 batters over that span. He has put up more than three DraftKings points six times in his 10 appearances.
Another viable option will be to try and attack Scherzer to see if he is suffering any ill effects from the pinched nerve in his neck. I mentioned the high walk rate above, which could only exacerbate things for Scherzer if he is experiencing discomfort. Players who wish to go this route will be in luck, as this slate features big bats at reasonable prices. Alex Bregman ($8,400) and Yordan Alvarez ($8,200) should garner heavy consideration in any stack against Scherzer, as Alvarez has come alive during the World Series (6-for-14 with a home run) and Bregman has hit three homers in 26 at-bats over the six-game scrum.
The most likely play may be to try and exploit Greinke's newfound trouble with the home run ball, as the Nationals have several hitters capable of taking the ball out of the yard. A stack against Greinke should include hitters like Juan Soto ($9,400) and Anthony Rendon ($9,600) but prospective owners can look to save money with someone like Asdrubal Cabrera ($6,600), who has logged a massive .568 slugging percentage against Greinke in 37 career at-bats.
Speaking of batter versus pitcher stats, it's hard to ignore Michael Brantley's ($7,200) long-term success over Scherzer. Brantley has hit .361 in his career against the Washington ace, with a slugging percentage of .636 in 44 at-bats.