Every Sunday night this year, there will be a Captain’s Mode Showdown contest on DraftKings for the ESPN featured primetime game. Tonight features a game between the Angels and Cardinals. This could be the last time Albert Pujols plays in St. Louis. He is a no doubt Hall of Famer and spent the best years of his career with the Cardinals. The highlight of yesterday’s games was Pujols hitting a home run and getting an unheard of curtain call as a road player. Can he rewind the clock for another vintage Pujols performance?
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
FIVE BETTING TRENDS— The Cardinals have won each of their last five games against the Angels.
— Eight of the Cardinals’ last nine home games have gone UNDER the total runs line.
— Both the Cardinals and Angels have covered the run line in 52.6% of their games.
— The Angels are 14-19 in games as the underdog.
— The Cardinals are 26-20 in games as the favorite.
Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
AngelsThe promos for this game will likely feature Albert Pujols ($7,200) and the home run he hit yesterday. No doubt, it was a cool moment. However, we have to face the reality that Pujols is far from the elite hitter he used to be. He’s been a replacement-level player for four years and likely wouldn’t be playing in this series if it wasn’t for the narrative of his return to St. Louis. While there is entertainment value in rostering him and all of his at-bats should bring energy to the fans, he has a 95 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Pujols could go highly owned in GPP and there are better hitters in this game.
Of course, the best hitter in this game is Mike Trout ($15,900 CP), who is the highest upside play in the captain spot. There has been talk about whether current Trout or peak Pujols was the better player and I think the answer is pretty clearly Trout, who is on pace to take home his third AL MVP trophy. He also comes into tonight swinging a hot bat. He’s scored at least 10 DKFP in five of his past seven games with an average of 18.7 DKFP over that span.
Starting for the Angels, Tyler Skaggs ($10,200) has righted the ship after a poor start to the season. He has a 4.61 ERA overall, but his recent results are closer to last season when he finished with a 4.02 ERA and struck out over a hitter per inning. The peripheral numbers for Skaggs suggest his ERA should be a bit lower and he’s suffered from some bad luck. His 67.2% strand rate is the worst of his career and his 3.95 FIP is a better indication of his skill level. The Cardinals offense has struggled against left-handed pitching this season with a 91 wRC+.
Miles Mikolas ($9,400) has had a tough time getting out left-handed hitters. He allows a .403 wOBA against lefties, making the cheap left-handed bats from the Angels the best source of value in the game. Hitting at the end of the order, Luis Rengifo ($6,000) is a good option to save salary with. He’s not an exciting hitter, but he’s been a bit more effective in the last few games. Rengifo is averaging 11.25 DKFP in his past four games. In the mid-range, Tommy La Stella ($8,400), Brian Goodwin ($8,200) and Kole Calhoun ($8,000) are all lefties with home run upside. Assuming he sticks in his normal leadoff spot, La Stella is the best option of this trio with Mike Trout hitting behind him. La Stella came into this season with 10 career homers and he has 15 in the first 71 games.
CardinalsComing back to the MLB from an overseas stint, Mikolas looked like a reborn pitcher last season. He finished with a 2.83 ERA and was one of the more consistent starts in baseball. This year has been a different story. He has a 4.48 ERA and is allowing twice as many home runs per fly ball. The good news for tonight is that he’s at home. Most of his struggles have come on the road and he has a 2.55 ERA pitching in St. Louis. He has a low strike out rate, limiting his upside, but he’s a fairly safe play.
Skaggs isn’t allowing a ton of base runners this season although he’s slightly more susceptible to right-handed hitters. This could lead to higher ownership for Marcel Ozuna ($9,200) after he homered in the first two games of this series. The issue I have with Ozuna is that he is a reverse splits hitter. Most of his damage this season has come against right-handed pitching. Sixteen of his 20 homers have come against righties and he has a 71 wRC+ against southpaws.
The Cardinals hitters who have done the most damage against lefties are Paul Goldschmidt ($7,400) and Paul DeJong ($8,600). Both have wOBAs over .400 against southpaws and are my top bats to target from the Cardinals. Due to the cheap price, Goldy is the best value of any Cardinals hitter. His debut season in St Louis has been a disappointment, but he still fares well against left-handed pitching with a 133 wRC+. Goldschmidt has more walks than strikeouts against lefties.
THE OUTCOMEThe Cardinals (-136) are favored, but I lean slightly toward the Angels tonight. Both these teams are middle of the road, but the Angels have the left-handed bats with the ability to get to Mikolas and make the difference in this one. At the end of the game, St. Louis could be in trouble after Jordan Hicks got hurt during yesterday’s game. This could create struggles for the bullpen.
Final Score: Los Angeles 4, St. Louis 3
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is gehrenberg) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.