Fifteen games are on tap Sunday, but not every team is in action. Both weekend games between the Twins and Angels were postponed due to at least four positive tests for COVID-19 within Minnesota’s organization. We’re not out of the woods just yet, folks.
An exciting pitching day opens with Gerrit Cole, Aaron Nola, and Shane Bieber in early afternoon action before Trevor Bauer and Blake Snell later clash in a marquee NL West showdown. There are also some exploitable hurlers toeing the rubber, including a former stud who is fading fast.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Washington Nationals: O/U 9
It’s sad to say that an opening 8.5-run line in a contest scheduled to feature Madison Bumgarner and Stephen Strasburg still wasn’t high enough. Once aces at the pinnacle of MLB, they’re both floundering mightily early this season.
Those expecting Bumgarner to bounce back from a disastrous 2020 better not be holding their breath. He’s looked just as bad (if not worse) to start this year, permitting 33 baserunners (22 hits, eight walks, three hit batters) and 17 runs in three starts. Opponents are hitting .367/.458/.667 with a .472 wOBA — Mike Trout has a career .419 wOBA — against the southpaw, who is also on the hook for a 7.64 ERA and 28.3% line-drive rate since the start of 2020. Is Mason Saunders available to start for Arizona instead?
While panicking in April is rarely advised, Strasburg’s last start left loud writing on the wall. He fired his fastball at an average velocity of 93.9 mph in 2019, but it peaked at 92.9 mph (averaging 90.9 mph) Tuesday. Unlike his first start of 2021, he was unable to succeed with diminished stuff. Strasburg got struck for eight runs, including three homers and five walks. Much to his frustration, a camera caught him grabbing his shoulder in the dugout. It thus wasn’t a major surprise when the Nationals scratched him from Sunday’s start, instead placing him on the IL with right shoulder inflammation.
Before this news broke, the odds quickly shifted from a -105 opening line to -114 on FanDuel. The game reopened with a nine-run total at -120. Although less profitable, that’s still the optimal play.
Just five of Washington’s 12 games have reached a run total of nine or higher, but Kyle Schwarber just returned to the lineup this week. Ryan Zimmerman and Starlin Castro are also starting with the platoon advantage against Bumgarner. The bullpens aren’t particularly stout on either side, so this could turn into the type of long afternoon where the winning side single-handedly clears the over.
Pick: Over (-120 on FanDuel)
Total Runs by Los Angeles Dodgers (vs. San Diego Padres): O/U 3.5
On the heels of dueling gems from Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish, the oddsmakers are preparing for another well-pitched clash between Bauer and Snell. However, the Dodgers might not comply again. Even after Saturday’s 2-0 victory, they’re averaging 5.9 runs per game and leading the majors in wOBA. They have exceeded three runs in 11 of 15 contests, so don’t get scared off by Snell.
It turns out the Rays weren’t solely responsible for Snell not working deep into games. He’s pitched just 10.2 innings in three starts after getting chased out of the first by the Pirates on Tuesday. While baseball is weird, MLB’s premier offense has a good chance of scoring off Snell if he can falter against one of the game’s worst offenses. And although San Diego boasts an excellent bullpen, it had to handle 8.1 innings in Friday’s 11-6 loss that spanned 12 innings.
DraftKings rightfully appraised the over as the probable outcome, but the Dodgers are prolific enough to bite anyway. Look for them to perform better against Snell than they did last October.
Pick: Over (-141 on DraftKings)
San Francisco Giants vs. Miami Marlins (Moneyline)
There are enough unknowns to scare bettors away from this matchup. How will Alex Wood fare in his first start of the season? Can Pablo López rebound from Tuesday’s six-run pounding at Atlanta?
Wood is the largest variable. The crafty lefty brandishes a 3.45 ERA over his career, but he served up 31 earned runs (11 homers) in just 48.1 innings over the last two seasons. He also spent most of 2020 in the bullpen, never lasting more than three innings in a single outing for the Dodgers. The 30-year-old is thus unlikely to have a lengthy showcase at Miami.
Although López is consistently debilitated by blow-up outings, most occur on the road. Since making his MLB debut, the righty has registered a 3.14 ERA at home and 6.41 ERA on the road. His season has followed that pattern so far; he allowed two runs in a pair of stellar home starts against Tampa Bay and St. Louis. The Giants can attack with an array of left-handed platoon hitters, but that formula hasn’t yielded positive results yet. They possess a mediocre .288 wOBA and 29.6% strikeout rate against righties.
San Francisco’s bullpen remains untested beyond Jake McGee, who probably won’t be available after blowing his first save in a 35-pitch outing Saturday night. Five other relievers pitched yesterday, so Miami can once again flourish late if Wood only goes three or four innings in his 2021 debut.
Pick: Marlins (-120 on FanDuel)
Andrew Gould Overall Record: 4-3
Net Money (Assuming all wagers are $100): +$172.48
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)