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The top two teams in National League West will face off this week on Sunday Night Baseball. The Dodgers have had an all-time good season, amassing a 91-41 record and +289 point differential to date. They are currently on course to win over 110 games and they have an outside chance to break the record of 116 wins.
The Padres have had a solid campaign in their own right. They’ve had to deal with the absence of Fernando Tatis Jr. all season, although the acquisitions of Juan Soto, Josh Hader and Brandon Drury still put them in playoff position. FanGraphs currently gives them an 85.4% chance of making the playoffs.
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 Sunday Night Baseball bets on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Betting against the Dodgers is always scary and it doesn’t work very often. Still, I believe the Padres are on the safe side in this contest.
The Padres definitely have the pitching advantage in this game. They’ll hand the ball to Mike Clevinger, who was solid in his first full year with the Padres. He boasts a 3.59 ERA – and while his strikeout count has declined, his Statcast data is above average. It ranks in the 71st percentile in average exit speed and 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 boasts a dominant 1.85 ERA as a reliever. However, Ferguson should only last about an inning before handing the ball to Ryan Pepiot. Pepiot struggled in the majors, posting a 4.54 xERA and 5.71 FIP in 31 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers obviously have the advantage offensively, but the gap has narrowed considerably since the All-Star break. They are fifth in wRC+ over the past 14 days, while the Padres are 10th.
The Dodgers have been an absolute unit in the first inning this season. They scored in the first inning 38.64% of the time, which is the best mark in baseball. That figure rises to 42.86% at home, which is the second highest rating in the league.
However, they will face a tough test against Clevinger. He’s been at his best the first time in the lineup this season. He held opponents to a .162 batting average and .522 OPS in their first plate appearance and he posted an excellent 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 scored in the first frame just 24.63% of the time, which ranks them 23rd in the league. Combined with Ferguson’s dominance, it seems unlikely the Padres will find the scoreboard.
Ultimately, the price of NRFI being better than even silver seems like a strong value.
If you think the Dodgers won’t be on the board in the first inning, it makes sense to take a look at their team’s total. It’s pegged at 5.5 points, which is pretty high considering the game against Clevinger. He’s not an elite starting pitcher, but he’s certainly not bad. The Dodgers are averaging 5.36 points per game, so it’s reasonable to expect them to be a little below their usual average on Sunday.
Once Clevinger leaves, the Dodgers will have to navigate a tough bullpen. The Padres aren’t jumping off the page in terms of ERA relievers, but their backend relievers are very good. Nabil Crismatt and Tim Hill both have 2.75 ERAs, while Hader is one of the best closers in the business. His recent struggles have been well documented, but he started the year with 19 consecutive scoreless appearances. He also hasn’t allowed a point in two of his last three outings, so it’s possible he turned things around.
First-shot props are a relatively new offering on DraftKings Sportsbook. You can bet on which player will get the first move in the game, so the order of build is extremely important. The first batter of the away team will have the first chance, so he has the shortest odds. As you go down the order, each batter will have worse odds simply because they may never have a chance on the first hit.
I’m going to take a chance on Machado, who should get the game’s third home plate appearance. He will face a southpaw in Ferguson, which Machado specializes in. He owns a 126 wRC+ against left-handers for his career – and while Ferguson has dominated against right-handers this season, I’m giving the Padres third baseman the advantage in this game. Ferguson was extremely lucky against right-handers, throwing to a miniscule .179 batting average on balls in play.
Once Ferguson is gone, the Padres’ left-handed hitters should have a field day against Pepiot. He’s been absolutely brutal in this division this season, giving up a .412 wOBA to left-handed hitters. He allowed three homers in just 13 2/3 innings pitched against left-handers and his FIP jumps to 7.44.
The Padres don’t have many intimidating southpaws, but Soto is an obvious exception. His Padres tenure didn’t get off to the best start, but he’s still arguably the best clean hitter in baseball. He racked up a 143 wRC+ in each of his MLB seasons and he posted a mark of 167 against right-handers this year. Soto also threw 17 homers against right-handers, good for an ISO .259.
If no one has homered by the time Soto gets a game against Pepiot, I like his chances of being on the board.
I’m a promoter at DraftKings and I’m also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and may occasionally play on my personal account in the games I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view of the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the views of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment to create queues. I can also deploy different players and strategies than those I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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