This article originally appeared on MLB.com: 5 bets to consider for Sunday Night Baseball showdown
This week’s edition of Sunday Night Baseball features a matchup between the San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs. Unfortunately, neither of these teams has had the year they were hoping for in 2022.
The Giants were coming off a massive 107-win campaign in 2021, but they have been unable to recapture that magic. They’re currently seven games under .500, so a return trip to the postseason is not happening.
Meanwhile, the Cubs are at the start of a rebuilding process. They’ve lost Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez over the past two years, leaving Willson Contreras as the only remaining stalwart from their 2016 World Series squad. They’ve won just 58 games this season, giving them the fifth-worst record in the National League.
Who has the edge on Sunday night? Let’s dive into five of my favorite wagers on DraftKings Sportsbook.
This total is set at a high 9.0 runs, but I still think it’s arguably too low. Both teams will have major question marks on the mound in this matchup.
The Giants are turning to John Brebbia in what will essentially be a bullpen game. Brebbia also started for the Giants on Tuesday vs. the Dodgers, and he ultimately lasted just one inning.
Bullpen games can provide a team with value – it’s often a better option than throwing a terrible fifth starter – but it helps if you have a good bullpen. The Giants do not. They rank 22nd in bullpen ERA this season, and they unsurprisingly surrendered six runs to the Dodgers on Tuesday. The Cubs are obviously not the Dodgers offensively, but they should be able to score some runs in this matchup.
The Cubs will send Wade Miley to the mound, and he owns a respectable 3.13 ERA over 23 innings this season. His advanced metrics are also solid, resulting in a 3.40 xERA.
The big problem is that he’s not going to pitch very deep into this contest. He’s thrown four innings or fewer in each of his past two outings, including one game where he had a shutout going. Once Miley departs, the Giants’ offense will have a nice edge against the Cubs’ bullpen. They’ve been even worse than the Giants’ bullpen this season, ranking 24th in bullpen ERA.
Additionally, the Giants’ offense has been significantly better against left-handers than right-handers. They rank 12th in wRC+ in that split, so they have the potential to score some runs off Miley as well.
If we’re looking at the over for the game, it makes a lot of sense to consider the over in the first inning as well. The first inning is almost always the highest-scoring inning in the league. It’s the only inning where both teams are guaranteed to have the top of the order come to the plate, and it often takes pitchers an inning or two to settle into the game.
In Miley’s five starts, he’s pitched to a 5.40 ERA in the first inning. He’s yet to allow an earned run in the second, fourth or fifth inning this season, while his ERA is just 3.60 in the third. Ultimately, he fits the narrative of a pitcher who struggles to start games.
On the other side, it’s tough to get a read on Brebbia because he almost never pitches the first inning. However, the Cubs have been one of the best first-inning offenses in baseball this season. They’ve scored a run in the first in 33.81% of their games this season, which is tied with the Astros for the third-best mark in the league. That figure increases to 38.03% when playing at home.
One of the reasons the Giants are better against southpaws than traditional pitchers is that they have a host of strong righty hitters. That includes J.D. Davis, who the team acquired from the Mets before the trade deadline. Davis has had just 77 at-bats as a member of the Giants, but he’s already launched five homers. That’s more than he had in 181 at-bats with the Mets.
Davis has had an interesting year. He’s struggled to make contact – he ranks in the second percentile in terms of strikeout rate – but he tends to hit the ball hard when he puts it in play. He ranks in the 93rd percentile for average exit velocity, 99th percentile for hard hit rate and 96th percentile in barrel rate. He can do a lot of damage when he squares it up, and Miley is not the type of pitcher who misses a lot of bats. He’s averaged just 6.60 strikeouts per nine innings against righties in particular, and he’s posted a 4.52 FIP in that split. I like the value with Davis to go yard in this spot.
On the other side, I’ll roll the dice on Happ to collect at least two bags. One of the best things about him is that he’s a switch-hitter, which provides more value than usual on Sunday. Since the Giants are going with a bullpen game, it’s hard to know how many innings will be allocated to southpaws and right-handers.
Fortunately, Happ fares well in both splits. He’s historically been a guy who crushes right-handed pitching, and he’s posted a 121 wRC+ against right-handers in 2022. However, he’s made huge strides in his ability against southpaws. They’ve given him trouble for much of his career, but he owns an excellent 131 wRC+ against left-handers this year.
Given that none of the Giants’ pitchers are particularly intimidating, I think Happ is underpriced at +120.
Let’s continue our theme of backing the offenses. If there are going to be runs scored in this matchup, it makes sense that Miley could get knocked out early. After all, he’s recorded less than 15 outs in three of his previous five starts.
Even if he is pitching well, it could make sense for the Cubs to get him out early. The Giants will likely have their lineup loaded with right-handed hitters, and they rank merely 20th in wRC+ against right-handers this season. Exploiting them with a traditional pitcher makes sense, so I’m happy to grab +125 on under 14.5 outs for Miley.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
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