This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
After a few days off to celebrate All-Star break festivities, DFS baseball is back! Well, sort of. The second-half kicks off with a single-game slate between the Rangers and the Astros on Thursday. For those of you unfamiliar with the Showdown format, players will have only six slots to fill, all of which are utility spots. Our top selection is known as the "captain." That player receives 1.5 times the point total of our other players but also costs 1.5 times more than any other player. This being the case, we must carefully decide who occupies the top spot, as he has the potential to be a major differentiator in our lineups. It may seem as though stacking across the board would be a viable strategy in this format but remember, you must select at least one player from each of the two teams. DFS players who wish to save money can opt to fill a spot with a reliever by deselecting the "remove non probables" option but those who take this route run the risk of not having the player enter the game, and thus receiving zero points.
As you might imagine, we have a short list of starters for Thursday's slate. Namely Lance Lynn ($10,600) and Framber Valdez ($8,400). Lynn appears to get stronger as the year rolls on, as he now carries a 3.91 ERA and 26 percent strikeout rate in 115 innings. It is also worth noting that he has allowed just 15 earned runs in his last 47.1 innings since the beginning of June.
The 4.57 ERA of Valdez seems underwhelming by comparison but a look at his xFIP (3.91) tells us that he's perhaps a better option than traditional metrics give him credit for. We should also be aware that Valdez has notched a 60 percent groundball rate through his 45.1 frames, which could come in handy in a park like Arlington. Add in the fact that the Rangers are a bottom-10 team against southpaws according to wOBA and Valdez not only becomes a viable play but also a sneaky target for captain. Valdez has struggled mightily on the road this year in general, which could give prospective owners scarcity in what seems like a good matchup.
Lynn may be having a fantastic year but that doesn't mean he hasn't shown vulnerabilities, such as the 43 percent hard contact rate he has allowed to right-handed hitters in 55.2 innings. Alex Bregman ($8,000) has several tools that make him interesting in the matchup against Lynn, including his .255 ISO and minuscule 12 percent strikeout rate against right-handed pitching.
Those who wish to look for their captain elsewhere could take a shot at Valdez with Asdrubal Cabrera ($6,400), who reentered the starting lineup shortly before the All-Star break after missing a few games with a back injury. Cabrera is always an interesting choice at home, where he has amassed a .270 ISO in 152 at-bats.
Astros against Lance Lynn (Rangers)
It may seem like a dangerous play to load up against Lynn but the Astros are a top-10 team against righty pitching this year according to wOBA and we have enough low-cost options (including Valdez) to fit in a big hitter like Springer.