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2020 MLB Playoff Preview - Verducci

2020 MLB Playoff Preview - Verducci

MLB "Wild Card" DFS Plays for Wednesday, September 30th: The Dongers Club

With a full slate of 8 MLB playoff games today, SI Fantasy analyst Steve Renner helps you get your DFS lineups and your bets set in today's edition of "The Dongers Club."
Publish date:

Merry Christmas Baseball fans. We have eight playoff games today beginning at noon Eastern and going until 10:00 pm Eastern tonight when the Brewers and Dodgers will wrap things up out west. If we are lucky we will get eight more games on Thursday as well but that means all the losing teams from Tuesday in the American League need to pull things out today.

National League Series

Reds vs Braves

The Reds have the starting pitching and the Braves have the bullpen. Both teams have good lineups with Atlanta having the heavier star power with Acuna and Freeman, along with Ozuna, Duvall and Albies. This is a lineup that has hit most of the season. to me, this is the hardest round for the Reds, but if they can get some hitting they're capable of a two-game sweep. I say it goes the distance.

Series Pick: Reds in 3

Marlins vs Cubs

This is a better series than you think and the Marlins have a better lineup than you think. But the veteran Cubs have shocked me most of the season; playing with a ton of energy and the starting pitching has been solid. So what's their problem? The bullpen. In a longer series this is a no-brainer Marlins win. In the short series the Marlins will need to steal Game 1 vs Hendricks.

Series Pick: Cubs in 3 - this one pains me.

Cardinals vs Padres

The Cardinals have not had consistent hitting or pitching all season. This is a two games and done spot.

Series Pick: Padres in 2.

Brewers vs Dodgers

Simply put. The Brewers are outclassed here and do not belong.

Series Pick: Dodgers in 2.

Wednesday Dongers Club - DFS Breakdown

So, how do we attack this eight game slate in which the games are starting almost every hour on the hour? We go game-by-game and look at what the expected run production will be, which pitchers can have strikeout upside and who is going to win. Yesterday I got two games dead wrong in the winners as the White Sox and Yankees stuck it to me. Today will be a bounce back spot for all of us.


  • Wind boost in Minnesota, 15 MPH out to right field.
  • Wind impact in Chicago, very windy but more of a cross wind out to right field
  • Wind impact in Cleveland, very windy out to right field
  • Very warm in San Diego and Los Angeles
  • Only game below 60 degrees is in Minnesota, but not by much.


Walker Buehler (Dodgers)

The instincts for many will be that wait, maybe Buehler is today's Bieber? No. No, no, no. The Brewers are bad offensively and the worst lineup that is in the playoffs with a 23.6% strikeout rate this season, sub .200 ISO as a team and only a .341 wOBA in 2020. Walker Buehler looks clean from his blister issues to give us 6 innings tonight, and although they may not need him to go deep, he is reduced in price and should strikeout 6+ batters tonight as your late night SP hammer. Take the security and move on.

Chris Bassitt (Athletics)

I preferred Bassitt against the White Sox in Game 1 and we saw why as the White Sox continued their perfection against LHP starters by beating Luzardo. I'll be avoiding this game mostly today but I really expect Oakland to get some base runners against Keuchel and win a low scoring game with their bullpen. The White Sox against RHP struck out nearly 26% of the time and Bassitt does a fantastic job avoiding damage vs righties - the strength of this White Sox lineup.

Hyun-Jin Ryu (Blue Jays)

This is a simple breakdown for me to explain. If Ryu stinks then just turn the game off and move on. But if he is locked in then you can expect a long, dominant outing. There's no just okay today with Ryu against Tampa Bay in an elimination game. The Jays set him up to go in Game 2; a spot where they felt they could avoid him facing Blake Snell and this might just work. But one thing I know is that they'll let Ryu go as long as he remains strong to avoid going to one of their bullpen arms or one of the starters now turned relievers. Diaz, Brosseau and Arozarena profile well against Ryu, but something tells me the Jays hit Glasnow and Ryu wins a 5-1 game.

Thoughts on other guys

Trevor Bauer (Reds)

So Freeman will homer off Bauer; let's get that one out of the way first. Outside of that, this is the one pitcher I expect to go 7 innings today and still manage to compile stats. Truist Park was one of my favorite stadiums in the regular season and there's a couple juicy hitters in this game but overall, I wouldn't be shocked if it finished 3-2 with the Reds winning. Atlanta started off the season as one of the best sneaky strikeout targets for opposing pitchers, but quietly reduced that number as the season moved on. I will be avoiding Bauer today with lots of choices and using late swap if necessary should be wind up being chalk and smashing to go different elsewhere on the later games.

Jose Berrios

Houston doesn't strikeout enough, slate low 18.7% against RHP this year.

Max Fried

Fried is going to have to pitch a gem for the Braves to win this game and would be my preferred recommendation if not for my dead certainty about Suarez and Castellanos being solid recommendations.

Chris Paddack

Dude, no.  You will see below.

Recommendations: Buehler, Bassitt, Ryu

Sleeper: Fried


Here's a quick run down on each of the games with final recommendations at the bottom. Use this with late swap in case you need to make up ownership/leverage ground later in the night.



I don't see a ton of ownership coming in this game, but it also won't be 2% owned. There's enough trust in both Bauer and Fried to pitch well and deep into the game but these are two offenses which could easily hit two or more solo homers a piece.

  • Reds: How does one not love Castellanos and Suarez in this ballpark? A righty park and two lefty mashers against a LHP in Fried. Problem is, Fried does a great job keeping the ball in the park and only allowed two home runs all season against 176 right-handed hitters. So it's likely a fade but those are two guys to strongly consider for the Reds.
  • Braves: Love Freeman against Bauer, but beyond that it's hard to trust the Braves to come out and put up consistent production against Bauer today
  • Home Run Call: Freddie Freeman - 1B - Braves
  • Better SP: Max Fried


It's 8:30 am and I still don't know what to tell you about the Astros SP plans. They used Urquidy yesterday to lock down a Game 1 win and they'll likely do whatever it takes today to get through if they have the lead or the game remains close. Minnesota has lost an insane 17 straight playoff games as an organization and eventually that old law of averages has to break through for them as a team. I don't love Berrios against the Astros as not only have they hammered him but he won't get them to chase enough on his 2 strike pitches. Expect plenty of walks from Berrios and someone in this Houston lineup will deliver a 3 run home run dagger shot on him and by someone I mean Kyle Tucker.

  • Astros: Springer, Bregman and Tucker
  • Twins: No clue who is going for Houston but they just used their best lefty in my mind, so Eddie Rosario is a lock if you back the Twins today and you can never go wrong with Nellie Cruz.
  • Home Run Call: Kyle Tucker - OF - Astros
  • Better SP: Neither


Everything here hinges on the wind and which direction it winds up shifting towards. Indications as of right now have it as a cross wind going left to right and with this being a day game in Wrigley Field, we should no doubt consider a gamble on the wind blowing OUT and providing a massive boost to hitters here. As a side note, I am excited that they gave Wrigley a day game today and feel like this is one of the few good things we have going for us in 2020 so let's enjoy it. The Marlins are the sneaky side here as in my mind Kyle Hendricks benefited from beating up on teams like the Pirates, Cardinals and Brewers this season. Not to say the Marlins are a loaded lineup - but they're no doubt a sneaky team today.

  • Marlins: Anderson, Marte, Dickerson
  • Cubs: Sandy Alcantara is lock down vs RH batters, so focus on the obvious lefties here. Happ, Rizzo, Schwarber and if you are feeling dangerous -- Jason Kipnis
  • Home Run Call: Starling Marte - OF - Marlins
  • Better SP: Sandy Alcantara


If either side is going to explode in this game it would have to be Oakland powered by Semien and Canha. But I personally do not see it happening. Another early afternoon game with good weather, but still in a massive park that always plays well for pitching. Both pitchers do a fantastic job keeping the ball in the park in general, so this is a singles and doubles game if anything on the hitting side. I'll be fading it.

  • White Sox: Abreu, Grandal
  • Athletics: Semien, Canha
  • Home Run Call: None
  • Better SP: Bassitt, but you could talk me into game stacking both.



Mentioned above how I like the Blue Jays against Glasnow. The young kids on the Jays can hit the heat, they just swing too much at breaking stuff. If they're patient with Glasnow they will draw walks, get his pitch count up and get some favorable spots to do damage. Really like a Jays stack today.

  • Jays: Bichette, Hernandez, Vlad Jr.
  • Rays: Diaz, Arozarena
  • Home Run Call: Teoscar Hernandez
  • Better SP: Hyun-Jin Ryu


Nobody will have the Cardinals. NOBODY. Except me. Chris Paddack simply has not been reliable down the stretch and he's struggled in the first inning in many of his starts as well. It's hot in San Diego in a nice day game and I like the match-up for Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong and Brad Miller the most on the Cardinals side. Meanwhile for the Padres, once they're down 4-0 in the bottom of the first, we get to turn on the fun with Tatis, Machado and the rest of the Pads against Kim who does not miss many righty bats. Padres are the better team, no doubt, but the over will hit so you want both sides. This is my favorite of the four late games today

  • Cardinals: Goldy, Miller, DeJong, Molina
  • Padres: Tatis, Machado, Wil Myers
  • Home Run Call: Brad Miller
  • Better SP: Neither


Here we go again. The Yankees must have taken their vitamins before going to Cleveland as they absolutely went bananas on the Indians pitching last night. I do not expect this to happen today and there's no reason for me to be scared away from the Indians hitters against Tanaka. Carrasco was not detailed above for me simply due to some other options on this slate having much more favorable match-ups, but if you are rolling into the night four game slate and want a contrarian SP, he is your guy. The wind blowing out heavily to right field is going to make this a hard game to fade in my mind but I don't think it's a 9-7 type game.

  • Yankees: LeMahieu, Hicks
  • Indians: Lindor, Ramirez
  • Home Run Call: Aaron Hicks and Jose Ramirez
  • Better SP: Carlos Carrasco, but only in desperation.


This is a simple one. The Brewers are likely to turn this into a bullpen game and the Dodgers should have the lead the entire way so they won't be too tempted to force a swap in hitters in my mind. This game doesn't start until 10:08 PM tonight and there's a chance that even the Yankees-Indians game is finished by then. So you can play the old fade, fade, fade, fade and then come into the late game with the Dodgers at home and roll a stack of them home run hunting -- personally I don't see any benefit in doing that against a decent bullpen and Suter should be able to pitch well in the first few innings.

  • Brewers: None
  • Dodgers: Turner, Pollock
  • Home Run Call: A.J. Pollock
  • Better SP: Walker Buehler



  1. Padres - Tatis, Machado, Myers
  2. Cardinals - Miller, Goldy, Molina, DeJong
  3. Marlins/Cubs - Marlins RH hitters and Cubs LH hitters and two rough bullpens


  1. Astros - Springer, Tucker, Bregman
  2. Blue Jays - Bichette, Teoscar, Vlad Jr


  1. Brewers
  2. Rays
  3. White Sox
  4. Athletics
  5. Reds
  6. Yankees




  1. Jorge Alfaro - $2600 on DraftKings for a catcher in  day game at Wrigley with wind blowing out potentially is a steal.
  2. Yadier Molina


  1. Freddie Freeman
  2. Vlad Guerrero Jr.
  3. Paul Goldschmidt


  1. Brad Miller
  2. DJ LeMahieu


Naturally this position is LOADED today. Jose Ramirez is your one off play, while the other guys should be used solely as stack plays with their teams

  1. Jose Ramirez - He owns Tanaka and the wind is blowing out to right field for the hottest hitter in September. Next question.
  2. Brian Anderson
  3. Alex Bregman


  1. Fernando Tatis Jr - I feel better about spending up for him at $5,300 on DK than Lindor for $4,800 or Bichette for $5,000
  2. Bo Bichette


  1. George Springer
  2. Nicholas Castellanos
  3. Starling Marte
  4. Ian Happ


  1. A.J. Pollock
  2. Wil Myers
  3. Eddie Rosario


  1. Randy Arozarena
  2. Aaron Hicks
  3. Franmil Reyes
  4. Tommy Edman


Jose Ramirez - 3B - Cleveland Indians - Chairman of the Dongers Club


All lines courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

  • Cardinals / Padres OVER 8 Runs
  • White Sox / Athletics UNDER 7.5 Runs
  • Toronto Blue Jays Moneyline (+123)
  • LA Dodgers -1.5 Run Line (-112)

Merry Christmas Baseball fans. We have eight playoff games today beginning at noon Eastern and going until 10:00 pm Eastern tonight when the Brewers and Dodgers will wrap things up out west. If we are lucky we will get eight more games on Thursday as well but that means all the losing teams from Tuesday in the American League need to pull things out today.

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