MLB is back! After our first full slate of games yesterday, we are back into the swing of things. Here I am looking at my favorite bets on DraftKings Sportsbook for the games being played Saturday.
Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies: UNDER 9 runs (-115)
The top of the Marlins’ pitching rotation is likely much better than the public thinks. After Sandy Alcantara pitched into the seventh inning of last night’s game and only allowed one earned run, Miami is sending Caleb Smith to the mound tonight. Even though he isn’t an ace, Smith has shown promise and has the ability to strike hitters out. When looking at Smith’s ERA last year, it has to be taken into account that he was injured toward the end of the season and that pitching at less than full health inflated his ERA. In the first half of the season, Smith posted a 3.50 ERA and that’s a good indicator of his actual talent.
On offense, it’s tough to expect much from the Marlins this season. They also have a tall task facing Zack Wheeler, who is making his Phillies debut after signing a big contract in the offseason. A flamethrower, Wheeler has come into his own since making his way back from arm injuries which plagued his 2015 and 2016 seasons. Over the past two seasons, Wheeler has a 3.64 ERA. Since there are two quality pitchers on the mound, I think the total is a half run too high in this game.
Colorado Rockies at Texas Rangers: UNDER 9 runs (-110)
Something we have to take into account with the Rangers is that they are playing in a new ballpark, and it’s not clear whether it’s going to be favorable to pitchers or hitters. If looking for narratives, Joey Gallo complained prior to the season that he thought the park played to pitchers too much and the first game of the season finished with a 1-0 final score. At the very least, there is reason to think the Rangers’ new park won’t be nearly as hitter friendly as the old park.
In addition to this potentially being a pitcher’s park, there are two solid pitchers on the mound. Jon Gray had a 3.84 ERA last season despite making half his starts at Coors Field and Mike Minor had a 3.59 ERA last season despite making half his starts at the Rangers’ old hitter-friendly park. One other fact that plays into the favor of this being a low-scoring game is that the Rockies have an awful offense on the road. Playing away from Denver last year, Colorado had a 74 wRC+.
Atlanta Braves at New York Mets: Braves (-110)
I don’t think there’s been a pitcher or player that I have bet against more often in my life than Steven Matz. A former top prospect, Matz has never really panned out, but the books have never really adjusted to him being a less-than-good baseball player. The same goes for DFS since Matz always seems to have a price tag a bit too high in my opinion.
The biggest issue Matz has had in his career are injuries. He no longer has the same velocity he had coming into the league. Breaking into the league, Matz had a fastball that sat at 95 mph and now he’s more in the 93 mph range. This led to him posting a 4.21 ERA and a 4.60 FIP last year. Against a good Braves offense, I don’t see Matz having much success and this game is lined even on both sides. Atlanta should be a favorite in this spot.
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Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics: Athletics (-136)
Oakland has a much bigger pitching advantage than the odds indicate. Despite coming off of shoulder surgery, Sean Manaea pitched really well for the Athletics when he returned toward the end of last season. In five starts, he posted a 1.21 ERA and his stuff didn’t appear to be compromised. Manaea struck out 9.10 hitters per nine innings and showed good command by only walking seven hitters in his five starts. I am assuming he is once again a top of the rotation pitcher.
I have the same amount of confidence in Bundy that I do in Manaea. Just as I am confident that Manaea is great, I am confident that Bundy is not at all good. The past two years, Bundy has posted ERAs of 5.45 and 4.79. While getting out of Baltimore should help him, I don’t think this will turn his career around. On the road, Bundy had a 4.63 ERA last year, so it’s not as if all of his struggles were the result of pitching home games in a hitter-friendly park.
Moneyline Parlay: CLE/CIN (-101)
With elite starting pitchers on the mound, I think Cleveland and the Reds are the two safest picks to win this evening. Cleveland is sending Mike Clevinger to the mound against a weak Royals offense, and Luis Castillo is on the bump for the Reds coming off of a breakout season. Clevinger has gotten better each year that he has been in the MLB and capped last season with a solid 2.71 ERA. He’s one of the frontrunners to win the AL Cy Young. Castillo has always had great stuff, and he finally started to harness it last year. He finished with a 3.40 ERA and was dominant at times. Castillo struck out 10.67 hitters per nine innings and his 15.9% swinging strike rate was one of the best marks in the league.
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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.