Every Sunday night this year, there will be a Captain’s Mode Showdown contest on DraftKings for the ESPN featured primetime game. Tonight features the Yankees and Red Sox, the greatest rivalry in baseball. After a disappointing start to the season, the Red Sox are in a deep hole in the standings. New York holds a 9 1/2-game lead over Boston, who can’t afford to lose many more games to the Yanks.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
FIVE BETTING TRENDS— The Yankees have won each of their last eight night games against American League opponents.
— Eight of the Yankees’ last nine home games against AL East opponents have gone UNDER the total runs line.
— The Yankees have won 15 of their last 18 games.
— The Red Sox have covered the run line in 39.7% of their games.
— Games at Yankee Stadium average a total of 8.0 runs.
Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
Red SoxIt is not a secret that David Price ($10,600) struggles against the Yankees. Despite being one of the best pitchers in baseball for years, Price has a 4.90 ERA for his career against the Yanks and the sample size isn’t small. Since he’s spent his career with the Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays, he’s made 41 starts and pitched 250 innings against New York. This is the equivalent of more than a year of data. I don’t usually put a ton of weight into BVP or pitcher versus team data, but there is clearly some underlying issue here. Either the Yankees have a great scouting report on Price or he can’t get comfortable pitching in these rivalry games. Whatever the issue is for Price, he is difficult to trust in this spot.
CC Sabathia ($8,400) is starting for the Yankees. In his final season, he is not the pitcher he used to be although he’s still effective against left-handed hitters. Against righties, he becomes more hittable. Sabathia allows a .351 wOBA to righties and Boston’s offense is loaded with All-Star level bats from the right side. If Boston is going to win this game, it has to jump on CC early since he will likely have a short leash.
As high-end bats, both Mookie Betts ($9,400) and J.D. Martinez ($9,000/$13,500 CP) make for strong plays. It’s usually difficult to fit both into a lineup, however they are the third- and fourth-most expensive hitters from Boston. Playing both is viable, but I think Martinez is the stronger option if choosing between the two. He is my top option for the captain spot because of his success against left-handed pitching. Mookie has been a reverse splits hitter this season with a .219 wOBA against lefties, while Martinez has a .478 wOBA against southpaws.
The hottest hitter for the Red Sox is Xander Bogarts ($9,400). He homered in New York yesterday and has at least 11 DKFP in seven of his past nine games. The issue I have with him is the price tag. Despite the recent performance, we should expect Betts and Martinez to outscore Bogarts on most night. For the salary, he is a pass for me. The same goes for Rafael Devers ($10,000), who is the most expensive hitter on the team. Given the splits of Sabathia, I am more focused on rostering right-handed hitters against him.
On the cheap end, former Yankee Eduardo Nunez ($5,000) is a good value play if he starts. He isn’t the most exciting player to roster, but he’s been decently lately. Nunez has reached base in each of his past four starts and averaged 7.0 DKFP over that span. The reality is that finding cheap bats from this game is difficult, however we don’t need to save a ton of money if avoiding David Price as the most expensive player in the game.
New York YankeesMentioned above, Sabathia is starting for the Yankees. New York is activating him off the IL for today’s game, but there are still red flags regarding his health. This is the final season of his career and he admitted yesterday that he will require knee replacement after the season if over. As is, Sabathia doesn’t work deep into games. He’s made it through six innings once all season, limiting his upside. Sabathia has been held under 17 DKFP in all but one of his eight starts. Given how tough the Red Sox offense can be, it’s hard to believe Sabathia has much upside since he won’t be pitching in the later innings.
Carrying the Yankees offense lately, Gary Sanchez ($10,200/$15,300) has come through with All-Stars Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge on the IL. El Gary struggled last season and is regaining the form that took the league by storm in his rookie campaign. In 39 games, his 18 homers have equaled his total from last season and he’s homered in six of his past nine starts. For New York, Sanchez is my favorite pick for the captain spot.
Typically the lead off hitter, DJ LeMahieu ($7,400) is reasonably priced. Coming into the season, I thought his numbers would dip moving away from Coors Field and I was wrong. LeMahieu is having one of the best seasons of his career and his counting stats are propped up by playing in a strong offense. He’s been extremely consistent, reaching base in 13 straight games. He’s also homered in two of last three games and he leads the Yankees with a .438 wOBA against left-handed pitching.
One of the strangest part of the Yankees’ season is that every replacement-level player they sign becomes productive. They have had to dig deep due to all the injuries they have suffered and Gio Urshela ($6,600) has been an unexpected gem. I keep expecting him to cool off, but it never really happens. He’s second on the team with a .368 wOBA against lefties and like LeMahieu, he rarely has an off game. He’s reached base in 19 consecutive games.
THE OUTCOMEEven though the Red Sox (-122) are the favorites, I am picking the Yankees to win tonight. I am leaning on historical struggles of Price against the Yankees. New York is a good spot if it can get a few decent innings out of Sabathia. The plan is likely to have him pitch through the order twice and then hand the game over to the bullpen. The Yankees have a day off tomorrow and can afford to stretch the bullpen tonight.
Final Score: New York 5, Boston 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.