This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
Tampa Bay's bats came through in Game 3 at home and will try and do the same against Justin Verlander on short rest. Verlander carved through them in Game 1, but on the road, things could be different. The biggest question for cash lineups is whether to use him or not. The Astros were early -265 favorites with an over/under of 7.5 runs.
This slate is all about how much you trust 36-year-old Justin Verlander ($13,000) on the quickest turnaround of his career. With only three days of rest following his 100-pitch, eight-strikeout performance in Game 1, he's back on the mound. It'd be surprising if he threw 100 balls again, though maybe it wouldn't be given how good he's been this late in his career. You could captain him and hope for another eight Ks against a lineup that's striking out a lot, but the Rays also found some juice last game and could get to Verlander early. In the past three years, Verlander has pitched at Tropicana Field just twice. In his first outing this season, he gave up a home run to Austin Meadows, but allowed two other hits in seven innings with nine strikeouts. He had more trouble in a 2018 meeting (9 HA, 5 ER, 0 HR), but most of that was against players no longer on Tampa's roster and he still had nine strikeouts.
As for the Rays, there's no question they're all hands on deck with Diego Castillo ($6,400) opening the game. The righty has been solid in 3.2 innings of postseason ball and will likely be followed by either Yonny Chirinos ($7,800) or Ryan Yarbrough. Castillo could pitch 10 innings and reach nine or 10 fantasy points, but even that's not a guarantee. He had 4.6 fantasy points in 1.2 innings against Houston in Game 2. Chirinos was the only other pitcher listed in Showdown early Tuesday and he hasn't looked right since returning from an inflamed middle finger, which is why he hasn't pitched in the postseason. In three appearances since returning from injury, he has four strikeouts in 6.2 innings and there's a good chance he doesn't it make it more than three innings if he comes in. His K numbers are good for the year, but the Astros have been best in the league at not striking out against righty arms in the last month with a 18.5 K%.
If you're fading Verlander, righties have had more success against him on the road this season, cracking 1.86 HR/9. Overall, there isn't much difference, but he has struck out lefties at a higher rate with a 39.0 K% compared to 31.6% against righties. Austin Meadows ($8,800) homered against Verlander early in the year and may be the best lefty to use, while righty hitters may be the best route, otherwise. Meadows and Ji-Man Choi ($6,600) have been the best power bats for Tampa against righty pitchers with ISOs above .380 in the last month. Avisail Garcia ($7,200) is next on the team with a .333 OBP and .286 ISO in his last 51 plate appearances against righties. The problem with Garcia is that he's 8-for-34 in his career against Verlander with two doubles and no homers.
The most popular strategy will likely be to ride Houston's bats and not try to risk it with Verlander. Alex Bregman ($9,400) is the first option and could be the most popular captain with a .486 OBP and .420 ISO in his last 105 PA, and he already has five hits and five runs in this series. If you use Bregman, you can still put together a trio of Jose Altuve ($8,000), Yordan Alvarez ($9,200) and Yuli Gurriel ($7,800), Houston's best three bats over the first three games. Altuve's price will likely make him a chalk play in cash games. Carlos Correa ($8,200) appears fully healthy and has three hits in this series so he'll get some attention, as well. The tournament move would be to captain George Springer ($9,800) and hope he comes out of his funk, still without a hit in the postseason.
While the bottom of Tampa's order came through Monday, none of them are easy bets. Prior to that win, Brandon Lowe ($7,400), Travis d'Arnaud ($5,600), Kevin Kiermaier ($5,000) and Willy Adames ($4,800) each had one hit total in the first three postseason games. Lowe has the best OBP of the value plays at .355 against righty hurlers and he got a hit against Verlander in the first game, but his K rate is almost at 30%. He's also a bit more expensive than the other three. Adames is the power play after homering Monday, while also racking up 20 during the regular season with a .166 ISO against righties.
There isn't a ton of value to be had for the Astros outside of Josh Reddick ($5,200), who has a .373 OBP in his last 67 PA. The problem is that if Tampa moves to a southpaw on the mound, there's a chance Reddick gets replaced and only has a couple at-bats. If you use Verlander, you'll likely also have to dip into Michael Brantley ($6,400) and Robinson Chirinos ($5,400). If you're picking between the two, the cheaper Chirinos makes a little more sense with a .388 OBP in his last 49 PA.