This article originally appeared on MLB.com: 5 bets to consider for Padres-Dodgers Sunday night Clash
The top two teams in the NL West will square off this week on Sunday Night Baseball. The Dodgers have had a historically good season, racking up a 91-41 record and a +289 run differential. They’re currently on pace to win more than 110 games, and they have an outside chance to break the record of 116 wins.
The Padres have had a solid season in their own right. They’ve had to deal with the year long absence of Fernando Tatis Jr., but the acquisitions of Juan Soto, Josh Hader and Brandon Drury still have them poised for a playoff position. FanGraphs currently gives them an 85.4% chance of making the postseason.
Can the Dodgers continue their dominance on Sunday night, or can the Padres pull off the upset? Let’s dive into five of my favorite bets for Sunday Night Baseball.
Betting against the Dodgers is always scary, and it doesn’t work out very often. Still, I believe the Padres are the correct side in this contest.
The Padres definitely have the pitching advantage in this matchup. They’ll hand the ball to Mike Clevinger, who has been solid in his first full year with the Padres. He owns a 3.59 ERA, and while his strikeout numbers have declined, his Statcast data is above average. He ranks in the 71st percentile in average exit velocity and the 53rd percentile in hard-hit rate.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers will go with a bullpen game. Caleb Ferguson will make his first start of the year, and he owns a dominant 1.85 ERA as a reliever. However, Ferguson is only expected to last around an inning before handing the ball to Ryan Pepiot. Pepiot has struggled in the big leagues, posting a 4.54 xERA and a 5.71 FIP across 31 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers obviously have the edge offensively, but the gap has narrowed significantly since the All-Star break. They rank fifth in wRC+ over the past 14 days, while the Padres rank 10th.
The Dodgers have been an absolute unit in the first inning this season. They’ve scored in the first inning 38.64% of the time, which is the top mark in baseball. That figure increases to 42.86% at home, which is the second-highest mark in the league.
However, they’ll face a tough test vs. Clevinger. He’s been at his best the first time through the lineup this season. He’s limited opponents to a .162 batting average and a .522 OPS in their first plate appearance, and he’s posted a stellar 1.12 ERA in the first inning.
On the other side, the Padres have been one of the worst first inning teams this season. They’ve scored in the first frame just 24.63% of the time, which ranks 23rd in the league. Combined with Ferguson’s dominance, it seems unlikely that the Padres will find the scoreboard.
Ultimately, the NRFI being priced at better than even money seems like a strong value.
If you think the Dodgers aren’t going to get on the board in the first inning, it makes sense to take a look at the under on their team total. It’s set at 5.5 runs, which is pretty high considering the matchup vs. Clevinger. He’s not an elite starting pitcher, but he’s certainly not bad. The Dodgers have averaged 5.36 runs per game, so it’s reasonable to expect them to be a bit below their usual average on Sunday.
Once Clevinger departs, the Dodgers will have to navigate a tough bullpen. The Padres don’t jump off the page in terms of bullpen ERA, but their backend relievers are very good. Nabil Crismat and Tim Hill both have 2.75 ERAs, while Hader is one of the best closers in the business. His struggles of late have been well documented, but he started the year with 19 consecutive scoreless appearances. He also hasn’t allowed a run in two of his past three outings, so it’s possible he’s turned things around.
First hit props are a relatively new offering on DraftKings Sportsbook. You can wager on which player will get the first hit of the game, so lineup order is extremely important. The first batter for the away team will have the first crack at it, so he has the shortest odds. As you move down the order, each batter will have worse odds simply because they may never get a chance at the first hit.
I’ll take a shot with Machado, who is expected to get the third plate appearance of the game. He’ll be facing a left-hander in Ferguson, which is something that Machado specializes in. He owns a 126 wRC+ against southpaws for his career, and while Ferguson has dominated against right-handers this season, I give him the edge in this matchup. Ferguson has been extremely fortunate against right-handers, pitching to a miniscule .179 batting average on balls in play.
Once Ferguson departs, the Padres’ left-handers should have a field day against Pepiot. He has been absolutely brutal in that split this season, surrendering a .412 wOBA to left-handed batters. He’s allowed three homers in just 13 2/3 innings pitched against lefties, and his FIP jumps to 7.44.
The Padres don’t have many intimidating lefties, but Soto is an obvious exception. His Padres’ tenure hasn’t gotten off to the best start, but he’s still arguably the best pure hitter in baseball. He’s racked up a 143 wRC+ in each of his MLB seasons, and he’s posted a 167 mark against right-handers this year. Soto has also launched 17 homers against traditional pitchers, good for a .259 ISO.
If no one has homered by the time Soto gets a matchup with Pepiot, I like his chances of getting on the board.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
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