This article is part of our DraftKings MLB series.
There are precious few days left before the 2021 season ends, which should force DFS players to think about how managers who have nothing left to play for will handle their pitchers down the stretch. We have competitive hurlers with favorable matchups in two of our three selections below and a couple of nice bargain bats to round out lineups.
There are many glowing things one could say about the season for Julio Urias ($10,100), but one of his most impressive feats may be improving his curveball to such a degree that it became the second-best bender among qualified pitchers. Not only have the Brewers produced a bottom-10 wOBA against southpaws, but their -6.5 RAA against the curve represents the ninth-lowest mark in the league. It should also be noted the Dodgers are still in the running to win the NL West, which likely means manager Dave Roberts will be looking for as much length as possible from the 25-year-old.
It will be a similar situation for Chris Flexen ($8,900), as the Mariners currently trail the Red Sox by one game in the hunt for the final AL Wild Card spot. Fortunately, he gets to toe the rubber at home, where he holds a 3.31 ERA and has only allowed a .287 wOBA to opposing hitters. The Angels began the year with what looked to be a promising offensive core, but the squad was ravaged by injuries and they've logged the second-lowest wOBA in the league since the All-Star break.
Jordan Lyles ($7,800) likely isn't on many DFS radars, but the veteran enjoyed his best month in September with a 3.33 ERA over 24.1 innings while only giving up a .312 wOBA. The Indians represent a moderately powerful offensive unit, but have posted a 24 percent strikeout rate and bottom-10 wOBA against right handers this season.
Matt Manning struggled throughout his rookie campaign, but things took a turn for the worse in September when he notched an 8.14 ERA and allowed a .370 wOBA across 21 frames. Luis Robert missed time early in the year with a torn hip flexor, but came on strong in the second half with a .271 ISO and .436 wOBA in 170 at-bats.
Mitch Haniger's ($4,800) fantastic offensive effort has largely been driven by his work against left-handed pitchers with a .279 ISO and a .373 wOBA from 197 at-bats. Jhonathan Diaz threw the ball well at Double-A Rocket City, but has struggled with his control at higher levels. This has resulted in xFIPs of 6.38 and 5.69 at Triple-A Salt Lake and the major league level.
Griffin Jax is another struggling rookie hurler, but with a big enough sample size to let us know he's a prime target. The right-hander has been hit the hardest by same-handed opposition by allowing a .578 slugging percentage and a 3.00 (!) HR/9 rate from 47.2 innings. Salvador Perez ($5,400) has been absolutely unconscious against southpaws this year, but we shouldn't overlook his .250 ISO versus orthodox pitchers.
Michael Brantley's ($3,700) power stroke all but disappeared after a successful April, but the veteran has stayed productive against righties with a .398 wOBA and 36 percent hard contact rate in 294 at-bats. Paul Blackburn has been hammered on the road in 2021, as we can see from him giving up a .409 wOBA.
Don't tell the folks who post the salaries, but Frank Schwindel ($3,100) has been outstanding at the plate since receiving regular playing time in August. This is especially true against left-handed pitching, with the 29-year-old posting a .379 ISO and a .458 wOBA in 66 at-bats against his opposite hand. Jon Lester threw the ball well in September, but remained as prone to the long ball as ever by allowing seven homers in just 29.1 innings.
Stacks to Consider
I may have given this away in a previous section, but Jax doesn't appear to be ready to face hitters at this level and prospective poolies should act accordingly. Benintendi has been quiet with his bat for most of the season, but went out with a bang in September with a .232 ISO and .410 wOBA across 112 at-bats.