Tuesday's two-game MLB slate starting at 5:38 PM Eastern time features the Nationals-Cubs Game 4 from Chicago and Wednesday's Yankees-Indians Game 5 from Cleveland. The players below are primed to help their respective teams survive and advance with strong performances in the clutch…
Jake Arrieta, CHC vs. WAS ($40): It's tough to commit $58 to 2014 AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber after his Game 2 struggles, which is why it's convenient that the 2015 NL Cy Young winner can be had for $18 less. Arrieta's more than a month removed from his Sept. 4 hamstring strain and gets to face a slumping Nationals lineup that was shut out in Game 1 and scored only one run in Game 3. The righty had a stellar .272 wOBA allowed and 2.90 ERA at Wrigley Field this season, so home field advantage is also a critical factor here.
CC Sabathia, NYY at CLE ($33): Sabathia's been terrific on the road all year with a 3.18 ERA, so it's not surprising he allowed just two earned runs over 5.1 innings in Game 2 at Cleveland. There's no denying this play is risky since manager Joe Girardi will have a quick hook given the multitude of alternatives available out of the bullpen in this do-or-die game, but Sabathia has the skills to keep himself in the game twice through the order. If you don't want to pay almost double for Kluber, using Sabathia makes more sense than rolling out $34 Washington starter Tanner Roark, who allowed eight earned runs over 5.2 innings in his last two regular season appearances.
Willson Contreras, CHC vs. WAS ($16): Righty-on-righty matchups haven't been a problem for Contreras, who managed a .351 wOBA in that split this season. Roark is probably the worst right-handed starter he'll see all postseason, so don't be afraid to roll out the Venezuelan catcher in this matchup. Wrigley Field's 1.13 park factor is substantially higher than Progressive Field's 0.97 mark, so Chicago's clean-up hitter will be playing in more favorable batting conditions than Wednesday's sluggers.
Anthony Rizzo, CHC vs. WAS ($15): Rizzo will have the platoon advantage over Roark, as the left-handed slugger feasted against righties with a .382 wOBA. His .373 mark against lefties also makes Rizzo a dangerous weapon later in the game regardless of who comes out of the Washington bullpen. With three other first basemen priced equally to or above him, Rizzo's too good a value to pass up.
Daniel Murphy, WAS at CHC ($18): Murphy needs to get it going if Washington wants to erase this 2-1 series deficit, and the former Mets postseason hero has the right matchup to do so here against the right-handed Arrieta. The left-handed slugger produced a .396 wOBA in this split compared to a sub-.350 mark against southpaws this season, so look for Murphy to finally drive in some runs out of the clean-up spot.
Anthony Rendon, WAS at CHC ($17): Rendon's .364 average against Arrieta is the best mark of any Nationals hitter with at least five at-bats, as he's a healthy 4-for-11. His .377 wOBA in righty-on-righty matchups shows that success has been no fluke, and Rendon should get some excellent pitches to hit batting third in the order between Bryce Harper and Murphy.
Didi Gregorius, NYY at CLE ($15): Gregorius has just one hit in this series, but he's displayed an excellent batting eye with six walks over the past three games. With 25 regular-season home runs and another one already this postseason, Gregorius is always dangerous, especially against righties when he has the platoon advantage. He also hit .321 on the road compared to just .251 at home while mashing more road homers in the regular season, which is shocking considering Gregorius plays his home games at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium.
Jay Bruce, CLE vs. NYY ($13): It seems counterintuitive to plug in Bruce against a left-handed starter, but Bruce did launch nine home runs in that split this season. Sabathia also won't be in the game forever and will likely face Bruce no more than two times. The midseason acquisition went deep in each of Cleveland's first two playoff games, so he makes sense at $13 despite the less-than-ideal pitching matchup.
Austin Jackson, CLE vs. NYY ($8): Jackson's a more traditional play here, as the right-handed outfielder pummeled lefties to the tune of a .429 wOBA in 122 at-bats this season. That proficiency against southpaws should get Jackson's bat into the lineup for the deciding Game 5, and there's little he'd like more than to send the team that drafted him in the eighth round back in 2005 packing.
Brett Gardner, NYY at CLE ($16): Gardner's combination of speed and power at the top of the order is tailor-made to wreak havoc in games like this one. Pitch around him and he'll distract the pitcher with some dancing at first before getting himself into scoring position with nobody out. Challenge him and you run the risk of allowing a home run and falling behind before most fans have even found their seats. Gardner's added a steal and a homer already in the playoffs after a 20-20 season and he'll have the platoon advantage over Kluber while maximizing plate appearances at the top of the order.