We’re officially into the second half of the MLB season, and the first half provided plenty of surprises. There have been some major disappointments—looking at you Mets, Padres, and Cardinals—while others have exceeded expectations. What does the second half of the year have in store?
Let’s dive into three of my favorite wagers on DraftKings Sportsbook for Sunday’s slate.
Detroit Tigers at Seattle Mariners:
The Pick: Tigers ML (+150)
Sunday’s matchup between the Tigers and Mariners features a battle between two intriguing young pitchers. Bryce Miller will be activated from the IL and make his first start since June 30 for the Mariners, and he’s had an excellent debut season. He’s been a bit fortunate, with opponents managing just a .244 BABIP and an 8.6% HR/FB rate, but his 3.45 FIP is still fantastic. However, he has slowed down a bit over the past month, pitching to a 5.48 ERA in June.
On the other side, the Tigers will turn to Reese Olson. He wasn’t considered the same level of prospect as Miller, but his early MLB results have been eerily similar. He’s pitched to a 3.46 FIP and a 3.65 xERA while striking out 9.45 batters per nine innings. He hasn’t been quite as impressive since moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation, but his stuff is clearly good enough for the major leagues.
The Mariners have a clear edge offensively, but it’s not like their offense is a juggernaut. They’re just 15th in wRC+ against right-handers, and they boast the second-highest strikeout rate. Given Olson’s strikeout stuff, they could have a bunch of whiffs in this contest.
Ultimately, this matchup feels much closer than the current betting line indicates. The sharps seem to agree, with the Tigers receiving a whopping 96% of the dollars on just 53% of the bets.
Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets:
The Pick: Dodgers ML (+100)
At what point do the Mets just waive the white flag? It appears as though ownership and the front office are debating what to do before the trade deadline while the team continues to invent new ways to lose each week. They’ve managed just four hits in two games since returning from the All-Star break, and they’ve unsurprisingly lost both of those contests.
Things aren’t going to get any easier on Sunday. They’re taking on Bobby Miller, who entered 2023 as one of the game’s top pitching prospects. His 4.50 ERA isn’t all that intimidating, but his 3.89 xERA and 3.71 FIP are significantly better. His average fastball velocity checks in at an eye-popping 99.5 miles per hour, so he has the potential to be a frontline starter.
Meanwhile, the Mets will hand the ball to Max Scherzer. Scherzer was once one of the most feared pitchers in all of baseball, but those days appear to be in his rearview mirror. He’s struggled to a 4.31 ERA through 16 starts this season, and his 4.54 FIP is even worse. He’s surrendering a career-worst 1.85 homers per nine innings this season, which doesn’t bode well against a Dodgers squad with plenty of pop. They may not have the same star power offensively that they’ve had in years past, but they still rank second in ISO against right-handed pitchers.
Overall, it’s pretty easy to back the Dodgers at plus money in this spot.
Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels:
The Pick: Angels ML (+110)
The Angels got off to their best start in years, but they’ve dropped 10 of their past 12 games. That’s caused them to fall to just 46-47 for the year, leaving them well behind the Rangers and Astros in the AL West. With Mike Trout on the IL and Shohei Ohtani trade rumors swirling, it’s easy to write this team off.
However, they showed some fight on Saturday, managing to secure a walk-off win in the 10th inning. They’ll also enter Sunday’s matchup vs. Framber Valdez on the positive side of their splits. They’ve hit left-handers extremely well this season, ranking sixth in baseball with a 113 wRC+.
Valdez is obviously a very good pitcher–he’s the current leader in the clubhouse for AL Cy Young–but he hasn’t been nearly as unhittable as his 2.76 ERA suggests. His 3.89 xERA is significantly worse, and he ranks in the fifth percentile in average exit velocity and 14th percentile in hard-hit rate. Valdez does generate plenty of swings and misses, but the Angels aren’t a particularly strikeout-prone squad.
While Valdez seems due for some negative regression, Tyler Anderson is likely due for some improvement for the Angels. Last year’s 2.57 ERA with the Dodgers was clearly a fluke, but he’s fallen all the way to 5.25 in 2023. He’s never had a full-season ERA that bad, even though he spent the first four years of his career in Colorado.
This is another spot where the sharps are showing the underdog some love, so I’ll grab the Halos at better than even money.
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All odds are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds are 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.