This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Two teams many didn't expect to meet will kick off the NLCS Friday evening with a less-than-stellar pitching matchup, at least name-wise. I know the normal adage is picking a side and going heavy on it, but after writing this column, it really does feel like a balanced lineup could work.
Miles Mikolas ($9,200) draws the ball for St. Louis. He looked shaky early in his NLDS start before settling in to allow just one run in five innings. His home splits are all over the place. A 3.01 ERA isn't truly supported by a 4.27 xFIP. His strikeouts are down, 6.1/9 against 8.05/9 on the road, and he allows a .245 wOBA and .586 OPS to righties at Busch Stadium against a .369/.893 on the road. He allowed five homers in his final four regular-season outings, though only 10 of the 27 long balls he allowed all year came at home. He threw one inning in Monday's Game 4 and shouldn't be too limited pitch count wise.
Washington will turn to veteran Anibal Sanchez ($10,400) to counter. He was brilliant in the NLDS, fanning nine while allowing only four hits and a run over five innings. This came on the heels of a mediocre September, however, where he surrendered six homers in five starts, striking out only 18 in 31.0 innings. His 3.48 road ERA isn't supported by a 5.48 xFIP, but he allowed only a .289 wOBA to lefties and a .286 wOBA to righties away from Nationals' Park.
The game has a total of eight runs, and the Cardinals' are only marginal favorites at (-118). It makes it difficult to buy fully into either offense.
The Cardinals' were carried by Marcell Ozuna ($9,000) and Paul Goldschmidt ($8,600) in the NLDS, combining for 18 hits in five games, and given their price points, they likely will feature prominently. Dexter Fowler ($5,600) is amongst the leaders in hard-hit balls during the first round but had only three hits to show for it, two of which came in Game 5. Hitting in front of Ozuna and Goldschimdt, he'll return great value if he can just reach base. Yadier Molina ($5,400) always merits consideration as his experience led to countless professional at bats and RBIs in the NDLS, while Tommy Edman ($9,200) had three multi-hit games in the opening round. His price is a little surprising, but four Nationals are still priced higher.
The Nationals' lineup always sets up well for a Joes and schmoes approach, with Anthony Rendon ($10,600) and Juan Soto ($10,000) leading the way. Rendon hit safely in the final four games of the NLDS with four extra-base hits. Soto had only five hits in the last round, but two left the yard. The duo are a combined 7-of-17 against Mikolas. Trea Turner ($10,200) is a bit of a forgotten man here, and makes for a great GPP contrarian option in the captain's spot. The schmoes side of the lineup can revolve around Howie Kendrick ($9,400), who feels overpriced, and/or Ryan Zimmerman ($7,400), depending on how the Nationals' line up.
Kolten Wong ($6,200) barreled the ball well in the Cardinals' clinching game against Atlanta (not that he was alone), and, hitting in the 2-hole, he presents similarly to Fowler above; get on and allow the big bats to drive you in. Matt Carpenter ($7,200) isn't priced friendly and had a terrible regular season. But he started the final two games of the NLDS with the Cards looking for more offense over Harrison Bader ($4,000). Bader meanwhile clearly offers salary relief and a chance to provide a return if he draws the start.
The Nationals are a bit banged up coming into the contest, with Kurt Suzuki ($8,000) dealing with a wrist and possible concussion issue, and Victor Robles ($7,800) managing a hamstring injury. It leaves Yan Gomes ($6,200) and Michael Taylor ($6,400) as cheap entry points to the Nats offense.