We have another full day of baseball scheduled for Sunday, with all 30 teams set to take the field. That includes 10 games in the 1 p.m. ET window, four games in the 4 p.m. ET window, and Sunday Night Baseball.
Let’s dive into three of my favorite wagers on DraftKings Sportsbook for Sunday’s slate.
The Pick: Pirates Moneyline (+145)
Are the Pirates back? That remains to be seen, but they have jumped out to a 9-6 record through their first 15 games. This team hasn’t cracked 70 wins in a season since 2019, so at a bare minimum, they appear slightly improved in 2023.
They’ll send Mitch Keller to the mound for their series finale vs. the Cardinals, and he’s blossomed into a reliable pitcher. He posted a 3.91 ERA in 2022, and he’s followed that up with a 3.57 ERA through his first three starts this season. Keller boasts some of the top Statcast data in baseball, ranking in the 95th percentile in hard-hit rate and average exit velocity through his first three appearances. His strikeout numbers are also way up, racking up an average of 11.21 strikeouts per nine innings.
On the other side, the Cardinals will turn to Miles Mikolas, who has been roughed up to start the year. He owns a 10.05 ERA through his first three starts, and while he’s definitely been a bit unlucky, his 8.85 xERA is still dreadful. Unlike Keller, opposing batters have made elite contact against Mikolas this season, who ranks in the 13th percentile for barrel rate.
Ultimately, I’ll take my chances with Keller and the upstart Pirates as moderate road dogs.
The Pick: Under 7.5 runs (-105)
This matchup features two of the most exciting young pitchers in baseball. The White Sox will start Dylan Cease, who was in the AL Cy Young award conversation last year. He posted a 2.20 ERA and 2.70 xERA while racking up 11.10 strikeouts per nine innings. He also made 32 starts for the second consecutive year while pitching a career-best 184 innings.
Cease is off to another fantastic start in 2023. He’s allowed just three earned runs through his first three starts – one in each appearance – resulting in a 1.65 ERA. His K/9 is also up to a career-best 13.22. Overall, Cease is undoubtedly one of the best pitchers in baseball at the moment, even if he may not have the same name value as some of his colleagues.
On the other side, Grayson Rodriguez has the potential to be that type of pitcher for the Orioles. He entered the year as the No. 17 prospect per FanGraphs, and he was significantly higher entering 2022. He has not gotten off to a good start in the majors this season, but he posted a 2.20 ERA and 12.53 K/9 across 14 starts in Triple-A last year. His stuff definitely plays at the MLB level – he’s racked up a 10.61 K/9 through his first two starts – so I’m expecting improvement moving forward.
Add it all up, and runs should be at a premium in this contest.
The Pick: Rangers Moneyline (+170)
The Astros are in a bit of disarray at the moment. They’re currently sitting at just 7-8, putting them in a tie for third in the AL West standings. There’s obviously plenty of time for them to turn things around, and their pedigree suggests that’s what they’ll do.
However, this isn’t exactly the same Astros squad. Not only did they lose their best pitcher in Justin Verlander during the offseason, but they also lost Jose Altuve to an injury during the World Baseball Classic. Altuve turned in arguably the best season of his career in 2022, with his 164 wRC+ surpassing even his MVP-winning mark in 2017. He racked up 6.6 FanGraphs WAR, which was the eighth-highest mark in all of baseball.
They’ll have Framber Valdez on the mound on Sunday Night Baseball, and he’s pitched to a 1.89 ERA to start the season. However, his advanced metrics aren’t quite as impressive. He owns a 3.70 xERA and 3.25 SIERA, so he could be due for a bit of regression.
Andrew Heaney will get the ball for the Rangers, and his traditional numbers have been dreadful to start the year. That said, he’s struck out an elite 14.09 batters per nine innings, and he’s been very unlucky when the ball has been put in play. Ultimately, his 3.49 xFIP and 3.64 SIERA aren’t that much worse than Valdez's.
The Astros clearly deserve to be favored in this spot, but -200 feels like it’s based more on their reputation than anything else. I’ll roll the dice with the Rangers as a longshot in this spot.
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All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and I 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.