This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
The NLCS continues Monday with a pair of pitchers who have found a tremendous amount of success in the regular season as well as in the playoffs. Those who wish to go contrarian will be able to find a few cheap bats, but it will be awfully tough to fade either of the upcoming hurlers.
As good as Stephen Strasburg ($11,400) was in the regular season, he has been even better during the playoffs, when he has tallied an eye-popping 38 percent strikeout rate and a 50 percent groundball rate en route to a 2.40 ERA in 15 innings. He will face an objectively easier test here than he did in the NLDS, as the Cardinals finished the 2019 regular season as a bottom-half team against right-handers according to wOBA.
Opposing him will be a hurler who has been unconscious since the All-Star break in Jack Flaherty ($9,600). Flaherty's 2019 postseason hasn't produced an ERA quite as low as the 0.91 he posted in the second half, but the 23-year-old's first October experience has been even more impressive in some ways, as evidenced by his four percent walk rate as well as his ability to get groundballs at a 52 percent clip in 13 frames. There isn't much that separates these two in terms of excellence, although Flaherty did hold an xFIP over 4.00 against lefty hitters this year.
As you may have guessed from my descriptions above, I believe the most popular (and perhaps, most profitable) play will be to roster both Strasburg and Flaherty, with Strasburg in the captain's seat. If we expect the game to be controlled by pitching, then it makes sense to take a reliever to not only try and pick up some points after the starters depart, but also to save some salary after selecting the two top assets on the board. There isn't always a dominant reliever to look to in these games, but here I would suggest Ryan Helsley ($3,000), who has shown himself to be one of the most reliable bullpen arms during the postseason, having recorded at least two strikeouts in three of his four postseason appearances.
Those who don't wish to go that route may want to try and attack Flaherty, who allowed a 1.3 HR/9 rate against lefty hitters during the regular season, and has given up two homers in the playoffs (both to right-handers). The Nationals are nothing if not a powerful bunch, with bats like Juan Soto ($9,200) and Anthony Rendon ($10,200) both finishing the 2019 regular season with an ISO greater than .200 against right-handed pitchers. The money-saver in this group would undoubtedly be someone like Adam Eaton ($7,800). Eaton has mostly struggled during the postseason, but has drawn five walks in eight games, which could make him a nice option to utilize speed at the top of the lineup.
There are certainly capable bats in the other dugout such as Marcell Ozuna ($8,600), Paul Goldschmidt ($8,200), and Tommy Edman ($9,000), but Strasburg doesn't have anything to really attack. Bats like Ozuna and Goldschmidt can still come in handy as value plays, however, as Goldschmidt has hit .345 with two homers in the playoffs, while Ozuna has hit .310 with two homers of his own.
Unfortunately, it's unlikely that we see any bats in the $4,000 range Monday. Instead, we can go back to Michael Taylor ($5,600) who has filled in for Victor Robles as he recovers from a hamstring injury. The fact that Taylor should continue to get regular playing time has finally been factored into his price, but he can still be looked to as a low-cost option who can produce. Taylor hit the cover off the ball in 12 at-bats in September and has looked solid during the playoffs, going 6-for-20 with a home run.