Spring is officially in the air. The Masters is right around the corner, the weather is steadily improving, and people are slowly coming out of their winter slumber. Of course, the return of spring also means the return of baseball, and we have a full 15-game slate scheduled for Sunday.
Let’s dive into three of my favorite wagers on DraftKings Sportsbook for Sunday’s slate.
The Pick: Under 7.5 runs (+100)
The Mets and Marlins will wrap up a four-game series on Sunday, with the Mets grabbing two of the first three contests. The series finale will feature an interesting pitching matchup between two players with tons of upside: Kodai Senga and Trevor Rogers.
Senga will make his big-league debut after spending the previous 11 years in Japan, and he blossomed into one of the best pitchers in the country. He’s racked up an ERA of 2.67 or better in three straight years, including a sparkling 1.89 mark in 2022. He averaged more than a strikeout per inning as well, giving him plenty of upside against an exploitable Marlins offense. They were 22nd in the league in wRC+ vs. right-handers last season, and they’ve gotten off to a disastrous start offensively in 2023. They’ve managed just seven total runs through their first three outings, good for an average of just 2.33 runs per game.
Fortunately, the Marlins will have a shot with Rogers on the mound. He was a breakout star in 2021, making the All-Star game and finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting. He pitched to a 2.64 ERA and a 2.55 FIP while striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings.
However, Rogers took a big step back in 2022. His ERA dipped nearly three full runs, and he struck out less than a batter per inning. In two starts against the Mets, he allowed six earned runs across 9 1/3 innings.
That stands out as a bit of an outlier. The Mets were way worse against southpaws than traditional pitchers in 2022, dipping to 12th in wRC+. The Mets have already been shut down by a southpaw this season in Jesus Luzardo, and Rogers possesses equally electric stuff. New York didn’t add any real right-handed options to their lineup during the offseason, so don’t expect too much improvement in that split moving forward.
Add it all up, and this game figures to be low scoring. I’d love it if this number got to eight, but I’m happy to take the under on 7.5 at even money.
The Pick: Nationals Moneyline (+160)
The Nationals are another team that will have an intriguing young pitcher on the mound on Sunday. They’ll hand the ball to MacKenzie Gore, who was considered one of the top prospects in baseball at one point. He’s yet to find sustained success in the majors, but he was a key part of the deal that sent Juan Soto to San Diego.
Gore started to flash some of that upside during Spring Training. He faced the Yankees in his final two outings, and he allowed just three hits and zero runs over 9 2/3 innings. He managed 12 strikeouts in those outings while issuing just three walks, which have historically been an issue for Gore.
Meanwhile, the Braves will turn to Jared Shuster, who will be making the first MLB start of his career. He’s considered the Braves’ top prospect per MLB.com, but that’s not good enough to crack the top 100 list. He’s a decent prospect overall, but he struggled to a 4.25 ERA and a 5.62 FIP in Triple-A last season. His K/9 also dipped to just 7.21, and while he was strong during Spring Training, it’s still a bit surprising that he started the year as a part of the rotation.
The Braves have looked outstanding to start the year, but I think the pitching matchup makes this much closer to a coin-flip than the current odds suggest. I’ll take a flyer with the Nats as solid home underdogs.
The Pick: Diamondbacks Moneyline (+155)
One of my bold predictions this season is that the Dodgers won’t make the playoffs. That’s definitely a bit out there – they’ve made the postseason in 10 straight years – but it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. The Dodgers don’t have nearly the same level of depth and talent that they’ve had in years past in their lineup, rotation, and bullpen.
Case in point: they’ll hand the ball to Noah Syndergaard in just the third game of the season. Syndergaard was once one of the most feared pitchers in baseball, but those days are long in the past. He pitched to a 4.39 SIERA, and his strikeout numbers fell off a cliff. He managed less than 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings, and his whiff rate was in the 11th percentile. Syndergaard did do an excellent job at limiting the damage on balls in play, but that kind of profile makes finding sustained success difficult.
The Diamondbacks are also a team that could be vastly improved in 2023. The biggest addition was calling Corbin Carroll up for the start of the year, but they’ve made some other quality moves as well. Acquiring Kyle Lewis from the Mariners has already paid dividends, with the outfielder slugging a game-winning home against the Dodgers on Friday.
Zach Davies is nothing to write home about at pitcher, but the perception of these two teams is simply off at the moment. Until that changes, I expect to be fading the Dodgers pretty frequently.
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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.