In the 2020 bizarro version of baseball, bettors have had to adjust to a number of different rules that impact a game’s scoring. From the universal designated hitter to placing a runner at second base to start extra innings, bettors are likely just now adapting to how these changes have played out over the small sample thus far.
Today brings our first look at MLB’s newest adopted rule: a seven-inning doubleheader. Since yesterday’s Reds-Tigers game was rained out, the two teams will play two games of seven innings each. Keep this in mind when wagering on either game of this twin bill, especially when it comes to their totals.
Here are my top MLB betting plays for Sunday (Odds courtesy DraftKings Sportsbook).
YTD: 19-13-1 (+5.43 units)
Atlanta ML (-104)
I cannot in good conscience wager on the New York Mets at this point. So far this series, and this year, all the momentum has been on the Atlanta Braves’ side when facing the Mets. New York’s only win in five tries against Atlanta was after getting an Opening Day masterpiece from Jacob deGrom. Since then, they have found every way to lose games against their rivals, from straight-up blowouts to squandering huge leads.
It does not bother me that New York’s starter, David Peterson, pitched so well in his debut compared to Atlanta’s Kyle Wright. This pick is all about how the teams are playing right now, and the Braves are the right side after winning four straight. Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson (.382 BA) and outfielder Marcell Ozuna (7-for-15 over the last five games) have been sizzling of late, and this offense looks ready for another explosion.
San Dieg0-Colorado UNDER 7.5 runs First 5 Innings (-112)
I will admit there is a little feeling of being snake-bitten behind this pick. I was on the over 12.5 runs for these two teams yesterday, but never came close to cashing since the Padres’ bats never got going. Yes, the opening game of this series had 15 runs scored, but 13 of them came in the sixth inning or later.
With the line set at 7.5 runs for the opening five innings, that represents more than half of the full-game line of 13. I am aware the over is 9-2 in these teams’ last 10 meetings in Colorado. However, seeing as the bullpens will likely be largely responsible for many of the runs scored, there’s value in betting just the first five innings.
Texas Rangers First 5 Innings ML (-103)
The public has heavily backed the San Francisco Giants in the first two games of this series, and they laughed their way to two easy victories. The Giants have dominated the Rangers to this point, winning the first two games by a combined 16-5. So the question that needs to be asked is, why is San Francisco only a -114 moneyline favorite while going for the series sweep?
The best answer may be a lack of faith in starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija. Over the last five years, Samardzija has had a penchant for giving up the long ball. He has ended a season with a sub-3.80 ERA just once in this span, and the 35-year-old’s “stuff” is clearly in decline. I’ll side with the unknown factor that comes with Rangers lefty Kolby Allard. The California kid should be dialed in and keep the Giants’ hitters off balance the first couple of times through the lineup.
Texas used five different relievers yesterday after started Jordan Lyles labored through four innings. Thus, instead of taking a chance that a taxed Rangers bullpen falters late, wager on them jumping Samardzija early and leading after five innings.
Los Angeles Dodgers-Arizona OVER 9.5 runs (-103)
For Arizona to earn a split of this four-game series against Los Angeles, it will have to beat ace Clayton Kershaw in his season debut. Any time Kershaw toes the rubber, the under is going to entice bettors. However, there is a strong chance Kershaw is on a pitch count as he continues to work back to full strength. In addition, his numbers have not been great against Arizona even when fully healthy. Kershaw went 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in two starts in Arizona last year.
The Diamondbacks will turn to Merrill Kelly, who will look to build upon his strong start to the season. Kelly opened with 6.1 innings of no-hit baseball against the Rangers before exiting with seven strikeouts after 7.2 innings. However, the Dodgers offense is a different beast, and Kelly has only lasted 10 combined innings in two career starts against the Dodgers.
Houston-Los Angeles Angels UNDER 9.5 runs (-106)
We end the Sunday slate of picks with a contrarian play on what the “average bettor” will think. Angels starter Shohei Ohtani failed to record an out in his first start of the season, walking three batters and allowing hits to the other three. The first two games of this series have seen 15 and nine runs scored, respectively, and a number of trends point to the over being the right side. The over is 6-1-1 in Houston’s last eight games against AL West opponents and 7-3-1 in the last 11 meetings between these two teams.
Thus, the public backing will surely be on the over. However, the Angels may still be without the services of Mike Trout. In addition, another one of their best bats will be out of the lineup since Ohtani is on the mound. I will not play Houston on the moneyline since the Angels have the pitching edge in the matchup against Josh James, so I’ll instead stick with my gut of playing the under.
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