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MLB Picks for May 21: Baseball Best Bets, Predictions, Odds on DraftKings Sportsbook

Matt LaMarca gives his best bets on DraftKings Sportsbook for Sunday’s MLB betting card.

MLB: New York Mets at Cincinnati Reds Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

We have another full slate of baseball scheduled for Sunday, with action spread throughout the day. There’s an 11-game main slate starting at 1:35 p.m. ET, a three-game afternoon slate at 4:05 p.m. ET, and a Sunday Night Baseball matchup between the New York Mets and Cleveland Guardians.

Let’s dive into three of my favorite wagers on DraftKings Sportsbook for Sunday’s slate.

Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels:

The Pick: Under 8.0 runs (-115)

Sunday’s matchup between the Twins and Angels features one of the better pitching matchups on the slate. The Angels will send Shohei Ohtani to the bump, and while he hasn’t been as dominant as he was last year, he’s still been quite good. He’s pitched to a 3.23 ERA while striking out 12.06 batters per nine innings. When you’re missing that many bats as a pitcher, good things are going to happen. If Ohtani can show a bit of progression in his HR/FB rate – which currently sits at a career-worst 20.0% – he should return to last year’s borderline-Cy Young numbers.

The Twins will turn to Pablo Lopez, who is turning in a typical Lopez year. He’s actually striking out a career-high 11.0 batters per nine innings, and most of his ERA indicators are in the mid-threes. That includes a career-best 3.30 SIERA.

Both of these offenses are respectable, but neither of them is anything to write home about. The Angels are 12th in wRC+ vs. southpaws, while the Twins rank 10th against right-handers. Given the quality of pitchers that they’re facing, under 8.0 runs seems pretty reasonable. The sharps also like the under in this matchup, garnering 76% of the dollars on just 40% of the bets.

Miami Marlins at San Francisco Giants:

The Pick: Marlins Moneyline (+115)

The Giants’ offense was shut down yesterday by left-hander Braxton Garrett. He allowed just one hit and one walk over 6 1/3 scoreless innings, adding eight strikeouts. The Marlins offense wasn’t good enough for Garrett to get the win, but the Giants’ struggles against left-handers are nothing new. They rank just 27th in wRC+ in that split this season, and they boast the fourth-highest strikeout rate.

They’ll face an even better left-hander on Sunday, with Jesus Luzardo making the start for the Marlins. Luzardo was always expected to be a high-end starter, ranking as high as No. 5 in the FanGraphs prospect ratings in 2020. He hasn’t quite lived up to those lofty expectations, but he’s started to put things together in the big leagues. He pitched to a 3.32 ERA across 100 1/3 innings last year, and he owns a 3.16 ERA through his first nine starts this year. Luzardo has also averaged at least 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings each year in the majors, so he should be able to pile up the whiffs in this matchup.

Alex Wood will start for the Giants, and while his 2.87 ERA is impressive, it’s across just 15 2/3 innings. He also has a 4.70 xERA and a 5.10 xFIP, so he hasn’t been nearly as good as his traditional metrics suggest. He’s a strong regression candidate moving forward, so I’ll take my chances with the Marlins as small dogs.

Cleveland Guardians at New York Mets (Game 2):

The Pick: Over 8.0 runs (+100)

The Guardians and Mets will play a doubleheader on Sunday, with the second game coming on Sunday Night Baseball. That matchup will feature two former Cy Young award pitchers squaring off, with Justin Verlander taking the mound for the Mets and Shane Bieber taking the mound for the Guardians. That said, neither pitcher is nearly as impressive as they were in their prime.

Verlander has made just three starts for the Mets, but his numbers to start the year are awful. He owns just a 4.76 ERA, and his 5.48 FIP is even worse. He’s striking out less than eight batters per nine innings, and he’s allowing more homers than he has in any of his previous full seasons. He may turn things around over a larger sample size, but it’s also possible that he’s simply not the same pitcher at 40 years old.

The decline with Bieber is arguably even worse. He’s gone from a guy who posted a 14.20 K/9 in 2020 to just 6.87 in 2023. Batters are also making loud contact when they put the ball in play, with Bieber ranking in the second percentile in average exit velocity and sixth percentile in hard-hit rate. He’s managed to survive so far, posting an ERA of 3.20, but his xERA of 5.00 suggests there’s plenty of room for regression.

With both bullpens potentially getting taxed in the first game on Sunday, there could be more offense than expected in the nightcap. The Mets’ offense has also shown signs of life recently, scoring 21 runs over their past three games, and these two squads combined for 19 runs in the first game of this series.

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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.