This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
We have a 15-game slate featured on DraftKings for Sunday, starting at 3 p.m. EDT. As the regular season comes to a close, a few scenarios still remain fluid in deciding the final field of 16 for the playoffs - most notably in the National League between the Brewers, Cardinals, Giants and Phillies. Lets take a look at all the specific outcomes needed for each of those teams to secure a spot in the postseason:
- The Cardinals can clinch with a win over the Brewers
- The Brewers can clinch with a win over the Cardinals
- The Giants can secure a spot with a win and a Brewers' loss
- The Phillies need to win and have the Giants and Brewers both lose
As you can see it's a pretty clear path for the Cardinals and Brewers with the Giants and Phillies needing the most help to find a way in. That being said, those are the teams that should have the most motivation today and make the most sense to target when building your lineups.
Aaron Nola, PHI at TB ($10,600): Coming in as the top spend on the slate, Nola should be locked in as the Phillies try sneak their way into the postseason field. He's been tremendous this year outside of a couple rough outings against the Braves and Mets. Nola could face a watered down Tampa Bay team who recorded the best record in the American League and have nothing to play for at this point. Regardless what lineup the Rays decide to roll out, Nola should be able to navigate this offense considering they average double-digit strikeouts on the season with 10.14, averaging 11 over their last three. He should also benefit from the Phillies' bats who will be extra motivated at the plate to score as many runs as possible, providing him the win equity if they can secure the victory on Sunday.
Drew Smyly, SF vs. SD ($8,400): There isn't an abundance of great pitching options today, so focusing on players with extra incentive to perform well seems to be the best way to approach the slate. While Smyly isn't the most exciting arm to roster, he's been serviceable this season and has scored double-digit fantasy points in four straight starts. The Padres, much like the Rays, are safely in the field of 16 so they also may feature a less-than-formidable batting order that could help Smyly find a way to get it done. He faced this team two weeks ago in his best performance of the season, striking out eight over four innings on his way to 21.2 fantasy points despite not coming away with the win.
Paul Goldschmidt, STL vs. MIL ($5,100): Even without the extra motivation to perform well today, Goldy would be a prime play facing Brett Anderson. In his 15 at-bats versus the Brewers lefty, Goldschmidt has produced eight hits, two home runs and five RBI. It hasn't been one of his better seasons statistically, but he still boasts a strikeout rate under 20 precent with a .397 wOBA and .871 OPS. This is the game with the most on the line, so I expect the veteran first baseman to find a way to help his team get the win and earn a trip to the postseason.
Christian Yelich, MIL at STL ($4,300): Staying in the same game for obvious reasons. I highlighted Yelich yesterday but he wasn't quite able to deliver. I have no problem going right back to the well considering the stakes at hand and hope the former MVP can will his team into the playoff berth. For Yelich to do that, he will need to get it done versus Cardinals' pitcher Austin Gomber. Mostly being relied on out of the bullpen this season, Gomber received a spot start last Tuesday against the Royals and did not disappoint. Despite that positive performance, he will undoubtedly be feeling the pressure here and I'm willing to bet on the 1.064 OPS and .291 batting average against lefties this season Yelich has displayed to come shining through.
Brandon Belt, SF vs SD ($3,800): The Giants need a win and a Brewers' loss to get a postseason opportunity. And if there is anybody who knows how to put a team in that position, it's three-time World Series champion Brandon Belt. The lefty first baseman has enjoyed a stellar season, recording 30 RBI with a 1.031 OPS and .315 batting average and will face Padres' pitcher Luis Patino at home. Normally a bullpen arm, Patino will get a spot start with the Padres already in the playoff picture. His 1.86 WHIP 5.19 ERA are nothing to write home about, so I expect Belt to take full advantage due to his .288 ISO and .438 wOBA against righties this season.
Harrison Bader, STL vs MIL ($2,100): If you need a super salary saver at nearly the minimum, you can take a shot on Harrison Bader - assuming he cracks the lineup. He'd earn the platoon advantage against Brett Anderson and won't have to do much at this salary to return value. If Bader can find his way on base, he offers the ability to steal a bag or knock in a run.
Stacks to Consider
I previously highlighted the appeal of Goldschmidt, adding Edman and DeJong due to their platoon advantage to the stack that should provide the highest upside possible with the three combining for 70 RBI on the season. Brett Anderson has struggled versus righties throughout his career and has given up 23 home runs since last season, so he could find himself in trouble early if this trio can load up the bases in their first at-bats. They also fill multiple infield positions, making them an appealing stack to work with any lineup construction.
Power lefties is the theme here with this Giants stack. Each sporting over a .300 batting average, the group listed here have crushed right-handed pitchers this season and I don't expect that to change in this matchup versus Luis Patino. The Giants also carry the extra motivation with a playoff berth on the line and I think we could see multiple long balls leave the yard with a combined 29 homers among the trio.