5 best bets for Sunday Night Baseball

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Sunday Night Baseball features an interleague matchup between the Mets and the Angels. Both of these teams got off to fantastic starts this season, but both have hit a bit of a rough patch of late. The Mets have struggled through a tough West Coast road trip, posting a 4-5 record through their first nine games. That’s not an unacceptable number, but it has allowed the Braves and Phillies to make up plenty of ground in the National League East.

Meanwhile, the Angels recently snapped a long losing streak, which leaves them on the outside of the current American League playoff picture. They have plenty of time to right the ship, but they’re going to need to start playing better.

Can the Angels take care of business at home — or will the Mets finish their road trip at .500? Let’s take a look at some of my favorite wagers for Sunday Night Baseball on the DraftKings Sportsbook.

Los Angeles Angels ML (-115)

The Angels have not played particularly well of late. They’ve lost 15 of their past 17 and recently decided to part ways with manager Joe Maddon. They’ve dropped all the way from 10 games over .500 to three games below and they now trail the Astros by eight games in the AL West.

However, the Angels have started to turn things around, winning two of their past three games. They’ll also have Patrick Sandoval, who has been awesome this season, on the hill on Sunday. He’s pitched to a 2.81 ERA and a 2.85 FIP, which gives the Angels a solid advantage at pitcher. Sandoval also benefits from being left-handed. The Mets have been one of the best offenses in the Majors against right-handers this season, but they’ve been a bit more mediocre against southpaws. They’re not terrible in that split, but their 106 wRC+ against left-handers ranks 15th in baseball.

Meanwhile, the Angels should be able to do significant damage against Taijuan Walker. He’s been one of the worst strikeout pitchers in baseball, ranking in the fifth percentile in strikeout rate. With that in mind, it’s vital that Walker limits the damage on balls in play — but he hasn’t been particularly good at that, either. He ranks in the 25th percentile or worse in terms of average exit velocity and hard-hit rate and the Angels have plenty of bats that are capable of taking advantage.

Taijuan Walker under 4.5 strikeouts (-130)

Let’s continue to pick on Walker. This line seems way too high, with Walker averaging just 4.82 strikeouts per nine innings this season. He’s racked up four strikeouts or fewer in eight of nine outings, with the lone exception coming in a seven-inning start vs. the Rockies. The Angels are a generous matchup in terms of strikeouts — they own the third-highest strikeout rate against right-handed pitchers — but Walker is simply not good enough to take advantage.

Walker’s start could also be a bit shorter than usual. He’s given the Mets solid length this season, with four of his past six starts lasting at least 5 2/3 innings. However, most of those outings have come in strong matchups. The Angels are a very tough one, ranking eighth in wRC+ against right-handed pitchers. If he only lasts five innings or so, he has very little shot of racking up at least five strikeouts.

Over 0.5 runs first innings (-120)

Betting on over 0.5 runs in the first inning is one of my favorite wagers to target in baseball. The first inning is almost always the highest-scoring inning — and it’s the only inning in which both teams are guaranteed to have the top of their lineup come to the plate.

This matchup pits two of the top first-inning offenses against each other. The Mets have scored in the first inning 37.7 percent of the time this season — the third-highest mark in the Majors — while the Angels are tied for sixth in that department.

Walker has also been at his most vulnerable early in games. He owns a 4.00 ERA in the first inning and the top of the Angels’ lineup is lethal. Sandoval has been better in the first inning (2.00 ERA), but the Mets have a chance to scratch across a run, as well.

JD Davis to record first hit (+6000)

One of the newest props to consider on DraftKings Sportsbook is who will record the first hit. These props are obviously very dependent on the lineups. The players who bat first for the away team will have the greatest chance to record the first hit, followed by the players who bat first for the home team. As you go further down the lineup, the odds of getting the first hit in the game are slim.

That said, I’m willing to roll the dice with a long shot in Davis. He’s available at 60-to-1 and I would expect him to bat fifth for the Mets against a left-handed pitcher. That gives Davis a chance of batting in the top half of the first innings. The worst-case scenario would be an at-bat in the second inning and it’s possible that there are no hits in the game at that point.

Davis will have the splits advantage against Sandoval and he’s historically fared well against southpaws. He hasn’t been great in that split this season, but he owns a 113 wRC+ for his career. He’s also made outstanding contact this season, ranking in the 98th percentile for average exit velocity and the 100th percentile for hard-hit rate.

I’m happy to get a sprinkle on Davis to get the first hit at +6000 and the over on 0.5 hits is extremely appealing at -140.

Brandon Marsh to Record First Home Run (+2000)

This is another relatively new prop — and it’s another one that favors batters near the top of the lineup. Marsh hit first for the Angels on Saturday and he could be in the leadoff spot again on Sunday night. Marsh has displayed some pop against right-handers this season, posting a .156 ISO in that split. Overall, he’s clubbed five homers in 128 at-bats. That’s not an elite number by any stretch, but it’s not bad for a potential leadoff hitter.

The Angels also seem much more likely to hit a homer in this contest. Walker has been good at keeping the ball in the ballpark this season — he’s allowed 0.58 homers per nine innings — but his Statcast data suggests batters can hit the ball out if they get it in the air. On the other hand, Sandoval has yet to allow a single homer all season — and the Mets also rank just 22nd in ISO against southpaws.

Overall, Marsh provides the best combination of talent, matchup, lineup spot and odds. He’s the clear choice in this prop.

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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