This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Baseball series.
I hope you're a fan of the senior circuit, because both playoff baseball games taking place Sunday are in the National League. They are also Game 3s, which means we've moved venues. The Cardinals and Nationals are now at home, while the Braves and Dodgers have to get it done on the road. As we watch the baseball season wind down, here are some of my recommendations for Sunday's two-game slate of MLB action.
The Braves and Cardinals are giving us a study in contrast in their starting pitching matchup. We've got a young up-and-coming pitcher brimming with promise against a cagey veteran. Mike Soroka ($37) managed a rookie campaign so good for Atlanta some people think he should win Rookie of the Year, even though Pete Alonso hit about a million homers. Soroka produced a 2.68 ERA, and even his 3.44 FIP looks plenty impressive. What's fascinating is he registered a 4.14 ERA at home, but a 1.55 mark on the road, which is why the Braves saved him for Game 3.
The 38-year-old Adam Wainwright ($30) is the flip of Soroka, as he recorded a 2.56 ERA at home and a 6.22 ERA on the road. In fact, he has a 3.03 ERA in the Cardinals' ballpark and a 6.51 ERA away from home since 2017. I prefer Soroka in this matchup, and here's one stat that tipped me in that direction. Since 2017, Wainwright has allowed a .284 BAA versus lefties. The Braves possess a stud southpaw hitter in Freddie Freeman, not to mention Nick Markakis, Matt Joyce, and the switch-hitting Ozzie Albies. Give me youth over experience for this one.
The other matchup is a little murkier. We know Hyun-Jin Ryu ($43) is starting for the Dodgers. Ryu had an interesting season. For months, he enjoyed a sub-2.00 ERA and looked like a Cy Young favorite. Late in the year, he endured a few rough starts and ended up finishing with a still-impressive 2.32 ERA. And he seemed to figure it out before the playoff started, allowing three runs over 21.0 innings over his final three starts. Ryu is also good at suppressing homers by giving up fewer than one home run per nine innings the last two years, which is an impressive feat in modern baseball.
The question mark is about what's going to happen with the Nationals. Max Scherzer ($55) was tabbed to start this game, but then he pitched in relief in Game 2. Granted, it was only 14 pitches, but that's still unusual. It was enough to get talk percolating that Scherzer would be pushed back to Game 4 - now that we know there will be a Game 4 - and that Anibal Sanchez ($32) would start Game 3. Both guys will start eventually in this series, but obviously you'd prefer Scherzer on the mound. Sanchez has produced a 4.43 FIP, while Scherzer has a 2.44 FIP and struck out over 12 batters per nine innings.
Regardless, all this chaos tips the scales in favor of Ryu for me. The Dodgers possess a slightly tougher lineup than the Nationals, though the Nats are no slouches. And Ryu is fully rested, while Scherzer very much is not. That being said, I'm not exactly thrilled about picking players from either batting order with these two pitchers on the mound.
If you are going to try a stack Sunday, the only thing I can recommend is grabbing the heart of Atlanta's lineup. I speak, of course, of Ozzie Albies ($20), Ronald Acuna ($23), and Freddie Freeman ($21). I mentioned earlier that Adam Wainwright owns a .284 BAA versus lefties since 2017. I know Acuna isn't a lefty. He's merely a guy who slashed .280/.365/.518 with 41 homers and 37 stolen bases. He's a stud, and he's basically matchup-proof.
Freeman represents the one true lefty of this trio. He recorded a 1.005 OPS versus right-handed pitcher this year. He also managed over 100 runs and 100 RBI while hitting 38 homers. Albies has admittedly hit lefties better than righties, even if he is a switch hitter. However, he's a skilled player who can take advantage of a favorable matchup. He posted a .295 batting average this year and notched 24 homers to go with 15 stolen bases.
If you buy three high-priced hitters, you might not be able to afford a starting pitcher. If that's the case, you might want to consider Kenta Maeda ($25). He's a starter by trade, but has often moved to the bullpen for spells, especially in the playoffs. Maeda pitched 1.2 innings in Game 1 for the NLDS. He's also a strong strikeout pitcher, averaging 9.79 strikeouts per nine innings.
Matt Joyce ($10) turned out to be a true surprise for the Braves this season. Little was expected of him after he struggled with the Athletics in 2018. Then he showed up and put up a .295 batting average and .408 OBP, earning himself a starting outfield role. I mentioned Wainwright's issue with lefties, and Joyce happens to be a southpaw.
I think it's far to call any Dodger an unexpected recommendation in some ways, given the fact you tend to avoid matchups like Scherzer. However, Scherzer did pitch in Game 2. He might not be firing on all cylinders. Maybe, just maybe, he'll be a smidge off. So I decided to throw Max Muncy ($21) out there as a possibility. For starters, he's a lefty, and he boasts a .940 OPS versus righties since 2017. Secondly, he impressed with a .938 OPS on the road this year. You aren't going to find many great matchups in the playoffs. Sometimes you have to look for the diamonds in the rough.