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 great game between the Cardinals and Braves. After splitting the first two games of the series, we have a rubber match tonight with the Cardinals (-152) favored to win.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
FIVE BETTING TRENDS— The Braves have won each of their last four games as road underdogs against the Cardinals
— Seven of the Braves’ last eight road games against NL Central opponents have gone UNDER the total runs line
— The Braves have won three of their last four games against the Cardinals
— The Braves have won seven of their last 10 games
–Games at Busch Stadium average a total of 9.6 runs
Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
BravesStarting for the Braves, Julio Teheran (10,200) is having his best season in years. A former top prospect, he was one of the better National League pitchers throughout his first couple of seasons. Teheran entered the league with great stuff and velocity, but it’s diminished as he’s gotten older. He broke into the majors with an average fastball velocity of 96.51 mph and now he barely throws over 90. This led to some down years and an adjustment period and with a 3.67 ERA, Teheran isn’t a top-end starter, but he’s figured out how to be a quality pitcher without being able to throw as hard. He’s gotten away from throwing his sinker in favor of throwing more off-speed pitches. This has meant more walks although also more strikeouts. Teheran is striking out a career-high 9.10 hitters per nine innings, making him a viable fantasy option on most nights.
On offense, it’s hard to love many Atlanta bats against Jack Flaherty ($10,400). He’s very difficult for righties to hit although he does allow a .329 wOBA to left-handed hitters. Freddie Freeman ($10,000) is the best hitter in the Braves lineup, however his price is a bit too steep for me. With about the same salary as the starting pitchers, I don’t like Freeman as a play. I prefer rostering the starting pitchers.
The best option from the Braves’ offense is Nick Markakis ($6,200). He typically hits in the middle of the lineup and he has the second wOBA on the team against right-handed pitching behind Freeman. Markakis is coming off a multi-hit game and has reached base in 13 of the last 14 games.
Brian McCann ($5,600) had yesterday off, so he figures to start behind the plate tonight. He has a .354 wOBA against righties this season and picked up three hits in his last start. He hits near the bottom of the order, which makes Markakis a better play for me, but McCann is fine if you need to save the salary.
Team MascotWith the Cardinals as a substantial favorite, Jack Flaherty ($15,600) is the safest captain pick. His 4.19 ERA is a bit underwhelming, but I am not massively concerned. Most of his issues have come on the road and he’s been fine at home. He’s pitching in St. Louis tonight where he has a 2.48 ERA. This is likely the effect of getting more favorable calls pitching since his walk rate is 6.1% at home compared to 11.8% on the road.
Just like with Flaherty, Teheran is much weaker against lefties than righties. I am looking to target the left-handed bats from the Cardinals and we have some good options. St. Louis recently mixed up its batting order and Dexter Fowler ($6,800) is now hitting leadoff. It’s only been two games and he could move back down in the lineup, for now, I am assuming he holds his top spot, making him the best hitter value in the game. As a switch hitter, Fowler is in a good place even when the Braves go the their bullpen. He’s reached base in 13 consecutive games.
A slow start to the season for Matt Carpenter ($8,200) caused the Cardinals to change the batting order. With that said, Carpenter is showing signs of life. He has homers in two of his last three games and at least 12 DKFP in five of his last seven starts. In a lot of recent content, I have written that Carpenter is a notoriously slow starts who I expect will be fine in time. It looks like that time is now. I am not a believer in BVP, but it’s not a bad thing that Carpenter has a career .368/.429/.737 slash line against Teheran.
If he starts, Harrison Bader ($7,200) is an interesting contrarian option for GPP. Hitting towards the bottom of the lineup should suppress his ownership and he has a .345 wOBA against righties. Bader is in an out of the lineup, but is still producing in recent starts. He has at least 10 DKFP four of the last five times he found himself in the starting lineup.
THE OUTCOMEThe Cardinals are the rightful favorite tonight. With the big home/road splits of Flaherty, he should have a strong performance tonight. Teheran looks like a competent pitcher again, but he’s on the road against against a tough St. Louis offense, who have the left-handed bats to score runs in the matchup. I like St. Louis to win the rubber game in a lowish scoring affair.
Final Score: Cardinals 5, Braves 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.