Josh Donaldson

Every Sunday night this year, there will be a Captain’s Mode Showdown contest on DraftKings for the ESPN featured primetime game. Tonight features an NL East divisional game between the Mets and Braves. I would call this a rivalry game, but I can’t put the Mets in a rivalry with anybody because it implies some sort of competition. They have lost seven straight games with a couple of impressive implosions. The real rivalry the Mets are fighting is against themselves.

Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.


FIVE BETTING TRENDS

— The Mets have lost each of their last seven games.

— 19 of the Braves’ last 29 games have gone OVER the total runs line.

— The Mets cover the run line in 32.6% of games as the favorite.

— The Braves comeback to win 29.4% of games when trailing after five innings.

–The Mets lose the lead in 22.9% of games when leading after five innings.

Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook


SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

Braves

Max Fried ($9,600) is starting for the Braves tonight. He pitched against the Mets last week and put together a solid outing, scoring 20.1 DKFP in a six-inning, six-strikeout performance. As much as New York has struggled, the issues have mostly come from the pitching. The offense is fourth in baseball with a 119 wRC+ against left-handed pitching, making Fried a bit riskier than may be perceived. He has plenty of upside, but there is a case to be made to fade him in GPP to make a contrarian lineup. This season, Fried has a 4.50 ERA on the road and he’s struggled in June with a 5.74 ERA. I expect him to be one, if not the, highest-owned player in the game.

For the season, Noah Syndergaard ($10,600) has been a reverse splits pitcher. He allows a .320 wOBA to righties and a .285 wOBA to lefties. This could go overlooked, making the Braves’ righties good targets for contrarian purposes. It is also nice that Atlanta has a few righties who hit right-handed pitching extremely well.

With a .369 wOBA, Josh Donaldson ($10,500 CP) is the top right-handed hitter on the team against right-handed pitching. Rostering him at the captain spot allows for a balanced lineup while offering upside. Thirteen of his 15 homers have come off righties and he’s homered in two of his past four games against the Mets.

After homering in the first two games of the series, Austin Riley ($8,400) is another target with upside. The only issue with Riley is that he’s been extremely inconsistent in his rookie season. Prior to this series against the Mets, He scored five or less DFFP in six consecutive games. He has a 32.2% strikeout rate and 4.6% walk rate, so he’s swinging for the fences on just about every pitch he sees. This ratio figures to improve as he gets more experience, but for now, he’s a boom or bust play.

For a little bit of extra salary, Ronald Acuna ($8,800) makes for a safer play than Riley. Acuna has a .364 wOBA against right-handed pitchers and comes into tonight with at least 9.0 DKFP in eight consecutive games. He’s the better regarded prospect of the Braves’ two young stars and is starting in the All-Star game for good reason.

The final thing to consider about the Braves offense is the boost they receive from the Mets bullpen. Even though Syndergaard is a quality starting pitcher, the Mets bullpen has a 5.64 ERA this season. Lately, no Mets lead has been safe with the pen giving up runs in bunches. They brought in Edwin Diaz ($3,000) in the offseason to sure up the end of games and the move has backfired. After posting a 1.96 ERA with the Mariners, he has a 4.94 ERA this season.


Mets

Coming off the IL, it is difficult to know what to expect from Syndergaard ($10,600). He’s been out since June 16 with a hamstring injury and it’s unclear how deep the Mets will allow him to pitch into tonight’s game. I am guessing they will proceed with caution given the injury history of Thor. Prior to the injury, his numbers weren’t all that impressive. Syndergaard had a 4.61 ERA, by far the worst of his career, although some of the struggles could be attributed to bad luck. His 64.7% strand rate suggests he’s dealt with some unlucky sequencing and still throws plenty hard, so the stuff is in tact. Striking out nearly a batter per inning and given his history as an elite pitcher, his upside in substantial. This makes him a strong, but risky GPP play.

The top hitting option from this game has to be Pete Alonso ($10,800). The Mets’ season may be falling into ruin, but at least they have found a star in Alonso. He is second in all of baseball with 28 homers and that includes a 202 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. He is slugging .797 against southpaws and is the most likely player to hit a long ball tonight. Alonso has gotten better as the season has progressed and his 187 wRC+ in June is his best month of his rookie campaign.

Coming to the Mets as part of the Edwin Diaz trade, Robinson Cano ($4,600) has also been a disappointment. For his current salary, I don’t think he should be overlooked. There are multiple factors his current struggles can be attributed to. He’s 36, coming off a PED suspension and dealt with a nagging hamstring injury. With back to back multi-hit games, it is looking like Cano is starting to get healthier. Hitting near the top of the lineup, he’s the best value play in the game.


THE OUTCOME

The Mets are the slightest of favorites tonight, but I find it hard to trust them. With the bullpen struggling and Syndergaard coming off the IL, there are too many uncertainties for me to pick them to win. I think the Braves edge out this game, extending New York’s losing streak to eight games. The Braves have a lead of 6.5 games in the NL East and are starting to run away with the division.

Final Score: Atlanta 5, New York 4


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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.