5 best bets for Sunday Night Baseball

Staff report


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This article was contributed by DraftKings. For more sports betting insights, check out DraftKings.com.

We’re nearing the end of the regular season, but we have another Sunday Night Baseball matchup on tap. This week’s edition will feature a longtime historical rivalry, with the Dodgers heading to San Francisco to take on the Giants. These were the two best regular-season teams in baseball last year and they combined for a dramatic National League West division race. The Dodgers won 106 games, but the Giants won 107.

Unfortunately, things have not been nearly as competitive this season. The Dodgers have cruised to a 100-44 record — the best mark in the Majors — while the Giants sit at just 69-76. The Dodgers have already clinched the NL West, while the Giants have virtually no chance of making it back to the postseason.

Can the Giants pull off an upset over their division rivals or will the Dodgers continue to steamroll toward the playoffs? Let’s take a look at five of my favorite wagers on DraftKings Sportsbook.

It’s always scary to take an under when the Dodgers are involved. They boast the best offense in the league and their average of 5.42 runs per game ranks first in baseball by a wide margin. No other team averages more than 4.94 runs per game.

Still, the pitching should have the upper hand in this spot. The Giants will turn to Alex Cobb, who is one of the most underrated starters in baseball. His 3.48 ERA is solid, but his 2.88 FIP is excellent. He hasn’t exactly thrived against the Dodgers this season, but he has at least managed to keep them at bay. He’s limited them to three earned runs in each of his past two outings.

On the other side, Andrew Heaney should have a significant advantage over the Giants’ offense. They’ve been OK against southpaws for most of the year, but they’ve dipped to just 26th in wRC+ in that split over the past 30 days. The team traded away Darin Ruf at the All-Star break, who was one of their best hitters against left-handers during the first half.

Heaney has also been wonderful for the Dodgers. He’s racked up an absurd 13.26 strikeouts per nine innings and he owns a 2.84 ERA. Batters have made decent contact when they’ve put the ball in play, but that simply doesn’t happen all that often.

Ultimately, the Giants have managed just two runs in the first two games of this series and I expect similar production on Sunday.

If you’re looking for a slightly better payout on the under, you can roll the dice on this game parlay featuring the under and the Dodgers moneyline. That pays out at +215 — which is actually pretty decent odds, all things considered. The true odds on a parlay of -115 (under 7.5) and -175 (Dodgers moneyline) should pay out just under +194, so we’re actually getting a bit of value here.

The first-hit prop is a relatively new offering on DraftKings Sportsbook and it’s pretty self-explanatory: You have to pick the player who will get the first hit in the game. The top hitters for the away team have the best odds, followed by the top hitters for the home team. The farther down the lineup you go, the worse your chances of getting the first hit of the game.

However, there is a potential error here with Estrada. He batted leadoff for the Giants on Saturday, which was against another southpaw in Julio Urías. There’s a chance Estrada maintains that spot in the lineup on Sunday, which would make him massively underpriced at +3000. If Cobb can keep the Dodgers out of the hit column in the top of the first — which is a tall task — Estrada could have the opportunity for the first hit of the game.

That should theoretically give him the best odds of all the Giants’ hitters, but he’s not currently priced that way. In fact, he owns merely the fifth-best odds on the Giants, trailing Lewis Brinson, Wilmer Flores, J.D. Davis and Evan Longoria. I’ll take a flyer on Estrada on the off chance he bats leadoff again.

The first-homer prop is similar to the first-hit prop, but batting-order position isn’t quite as vital. It still helps to hit early in the lineup, but the first homer in a game can come in any inning.

However, in some games, it might not come at all. I’m willing to bet on this being one of those contests. Cobb is an extreme ground-ball pitcher, generating grounders on 61.2 percent of his batted-ball events. His fly-ball rate sits at just 20.5 percent, which would be the second-best mark in the league if he had enough innings to qualify. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that it’s been tough to take Cobb yard: He’s allowed just 0.63 homers per nine innings.

Heaney has been more vulnerable to the long ball, but the Giants’ offense hasn’t displayed much power against left-handers of late. They rank just 21st in ISO in that split over the past 30 days, so they’re not the type of team to take advantage.

This might be my favorite bet on the slate. Heaney has been one of the top strikeout artists in baseball this season and he’s generated at least eight punchouts in four of his past five games. That includes eight strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings vs. the Giants earlier this month.

He doesn’t typically pitch past the sixth inning, but Heaney can do significant damage against the Giants in limited at-bats. They’ve been one of the best matchups for left-handers as of late, posting the second-highest strikeout rate over the past 30 days. They’re whiffing in 28.5 percent of at-bats in that timeframe — and that number should be amplified against Heaney.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) 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 do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. 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.

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