This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.
Cole has been superhuman nearly all season, having won eight straight starts while the Astros haven't lost a game he's started since July 12. He ran off 11 straight outings with double-digit strikeouts prior to fanning seven in Game 3 of the ALCS, and has allowed only 10 hits and one run over 22.2 postseason innings, striking out 32. He did walk a season-high five in his last start, and while taking pitches may be in the Nationals' best interest, Cole's control figures to rebound. Given his time with Pittsburgh previously, he's faced current Nationals 102 times, allowing a .227 BAA and .605 OPS.
Scherzer looks to have found himself in the postseason after struggling with injuries and command issues during the second half of the season. He allowed 11 homers in nine starts spanning from July 25 through the NL Wild Card game, with 10 being hit by lefties, who posted a .391 wOBA against him after the All-Star break. While he did serve up a long ball in his NLDS appearance as well, Scherzer went seven innings for the first time since July 6, allowing just one run and four hits. He followed that up with seven innings of one-hit ball against the Cardinals, fanning 18 over those two outings. While clearly the more volatile option, "Mad Max" looks like he's back.
A predictably low total is on the board given who's on the mound, but 6.5 runs isn't a number we see often. The Astros (-190) are heavy favorites however, so that's the obvious offense to target. Jose Altuve ($9,500) has been great throughout the postseason, hitting .349 with a 1.184 OPS thanks to eight extra-base hits, and he'll be a popular anchor and MVP selection for cash lineups. George Springer ($9,000) warmed some during the ALCS, while Alex Bregman's ($8,500) hot bat from September did not carry over to the postseason. Michael Brantley ($7,000) merits serious GPP consideration at the MVP slot. Sure, most of his career PAs in this matchup came during Scherzer's days in Detroit, but Brantley is 15-of-44 (.341) with eight doubles, a triple and a homer against the right-hander, striking out just once. He's also quietly produced the second-most postseason hits for the Astros behind Altuve.
Given how great Cole has been, it seems like the differentiating lineups may still be heavy on Houston bats, but Washington's hitters can't be completely ignored. I'm going to end up saying this way too often during this series, but the Nationals lineup sets up perfectly for a Joes-and-Schmoes lineup construction. Simply based on recent results, we can anchor with Anthony Rendon ($9,000), who is hitting .375 in the postseason with a 1.059 OPS, and surround him with Howie Kendrick ($6,000) and Ryan Zimmerman ($5,000), who collectively have 20 postseason hits. Juan Soto ($8,000) figures to be largely ignored due to a cold postseason (.237/.747) but the power potential remains. Trea Turner ($7,000) is a nice value at this price, which we hope remains for future games not against Cole.
Given Scherzer's struggles against lefties, a cheap buy into the Astro lineup is Josh Reddick ($4,500), who's 5-of-11 off Scherzer in his career. Yordan Alvarez ($6,000) has the potential to far outproduce this reduced price, but his form is poor with just one hit in his last 25 at-bats.
Kurt Suzuki ($4,500) is, somewhat surprisingly given the Nats' top-heavy lineup, the only low-salaried option among the regular starters, though Asdrubal Cabrera ($4,500) could get the nod at DH or second base if Kendrick is DHing. The next cheapest option would be Victor Robles ($5,500), who has provided a spark in two games since returning from injury.