The two priciest pitchers in this slate are going head-to-head in Cleveland, and the slight edge has to go to the Yankees' Gerrit Cole ($8,600). Cole finished the season on a three-game winning streak, during which he allowed just two earned runs on 10 hits over 21 innings while posting a 24:3 K:BB. Opposing him will be AL Cy Young favorite Shane Bieber ($9,000), who had a sparkling 1.63 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 77.1 innings this season. Bieber only faced one top-10 offense all season, though, and he looked human with four runs allowed over 11 innings in his two starts against the White Sox. For that reason, Bieber could have more difficulties holding down New York's fourth-ranked offense (5.25 runs per game) than Cole will have against a Cleveland lineup that tied for 25th with 4.13 runs per game.
Kenta Maeda ($8,000) pitched like a true ace for the Twins this season, with a 2.70 ERA, 2.63 xFIP and 0.75 WHIP over 66.2 innings, as well as a career-best 32.3 percent strikeout rate. He'll look to carry that strong form over into the postseason at home against an Astros team that dropped 16 of its last 24 games and endured down seasons from almost all of its regulars without the benefit of cheating.
Blake Snell ($7,800) pitched well down the stretch for the Rays, allowing just four runs over 16.1 innings while striking out 18 in his last three starts. The 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner should keep rolling in Tampa Bay against a Blue Jays team that scored only 4.21 runs per game on the road this season compared to 6.12 runs per game when they hosted in Buffalo.
Top Targets If you're not scared of Bieber, DJ LeMahieu ($5,200) should be in your lineup. The Yankees' leadoff man led all qualifying AL batters in average (.364), OBP (.421) and OPS (1.011) this season, and he's eligible at both second base and third base. Luke Voit ($4,900) led the major leagues with 22 home runs this season. Like his teammate LeMahieu, the first baseman has some nice against-the-grain value against Bieber, who hasn't pitched in the playoffs before. Matt Olson ($4,700) has the platoon advantage against White Sox righty Lucas Giolito, and the left-handed slugger appreciates that this game will take place at RingCentral Coliseum given his home/road splits. The first baseman had a .384 wOBA and 29 RBI in 30 home games compared to a measly .248 mark and just 13 RBI in 30 road contests. Best Values Randal Grichuk ($3,900) has been excellent against left-handed pitching this season, with a .399 wOBA in 64 plate appearances. The relatively affordable outfielder bats in the heart of the Blue Jays' order and will be facing a left-handed starter in Snell. Michael Brantley ($3,700) has remained affordable despite consistently mashing right-handed pitching. The left-handed hitting Astros outfielder posted a .398 wOBA against righties this season and will be a tough out for Maeda. Carlos Santana ($3,700) had two doubles, a home run and four RBI in Cleveland's regular season finale. The switch-hitting first baseman will hope to carry the momentum from that performance over into the first game of the postseason against Cole, who had trouble with the long ball during the regular season, allowing 14 home runs in 73 innings. Keep an eye on who starts behind the dish for the Blue Jays. If rookie Alejandro Kirk ($2,500) gets the call, he'll be an appealing cheap value play after slashing .375/.400/.583 in his first nine games of major-league action. If the team instead starts Danny Jansen ($3,900), you're better off looking elsewhere at the catcher position. Stacks to Consider Rays vs. Blue Jays RHP Matt Shoemaker Brandon Lowe (2B - $4,900), Randy Arozarena (OF - $3,800), Joey Wendle (2B/3B - $3,900) Tampa Bay's lineup faces the least daunting pitching matchup, with Toronto expected to open with Shoemaker (4.71 ERA) followed by Robbie Ray (6.62 ERA). Lowe is the Rays' best hitter, as he slashed .269/.362/.554 in the regular season and occupies the two-hole in the order. Arozarena settled primarily into the three-hole down the stretch and finished strong with six hits, two home runs, three RBI, six runs and a steal in his last four games to push his season OPS up to 1.022. Wendle offers appealing positional flexibility, and the left-handed slugger hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games, picking up 18 base knocks over that stretch. Twins vs. Astros RHP Zack Greinke Nelson Cruz (OF - $4,900), Eddie Rosario (OF - $4,200), Max Kepler (OF - $3,700) Greinke struggled to a 5.73 ERA over his last seven starts, while the Twins were a sparkling 24-7 at home this season. The ageless Cruz is the most dangerous batter in Minnesota's lineup, coming off a regular season in which he slashed .303/.397/.595 with 16 home runs in 53 games. Rosario has the platoon advantage against Greinke as a left-handed batter and posted a .365 wOBA against right-handed pitching in the regular season. Kepler was even better against righties with a .383 wOBA, and the left-handed hitting leadoff man finished hot with a .360/.429/.720 line in his last six games. White Sox at Athletics LHP Jesus Luzardo Tim Anderson (SS - $5,100), Jose Abreu (1B - $5,100), James McCann (C - $3,800) Whether it's Luzardo or Sean Manaea, Oakland will be putting a southpaw on the mound for the series opener. That's music to Anderson's ears, as the shortstop's .606 wOBA against lefties was more than double his .300 mark against righties. Abreu's in the AL MVP conversation after slashing .317/.370/.617 with 19 home runs. Don't be surprised to see Chicago try to get McCann's bat into the lineup, as the backup catcher posted a .513 wOBA in 36 plate appearances against left-handed pitching this season.