MLB Picks and Predictions for Sunday 4/9
We have another full day of MLB action coming our way on Sunday, as April 9th’s lineup celebrates our first full 7-day stretch of pro baseball this year.
That has several pitchers making their second starts and we again get a few key matchups with explosive offenses, as well as some intense divisional rivalry clashes. It’s sure to be a fun day of baseball and it should also offer up some tantalizing MLB betting opportunities.
Should you plan to bet on MLB games on Sunday, peruse our preview of the game scheduled to lend a helping hand in your decision-making:
- Rick Porcello (1-0, 4.26 ERA) vs. Daniel Norris (4-2, 3.38 ERA)
- Weather: Partly cloudy, high of 72.
- Moneyline: Red Sox -118, Tigers -102
Rick Porcello toes the rubber for the Red Sox for the second time in 2017, hoping to get a win in Detroit and move to 2-0 on the year. Porcello’s stellar 2016 run for the most part went down at Fenway Park, where he delivered a solid 2.97 ERA during a blistering 13-1 run. His struggles were a little more transparent on the road (3.31 ERA, 9-3), so it’s fair to wonder if he could hit a snag in a hitter’s park against a very potent Tigers offense.
Detroit has the leg up in this series through two games (2-0) and will lead on the young Daniel Norris to help them get a third win in their four-game series with the Bo Sox. He could get a little help if luck breaks his way, as Boston has played this series without the help of stellar bats like Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts to this point.
This otherwise is not a friendly matchup for Norris, as Boston paced all of baseball when it came to contact against left-handed hurlers a year ago. It’s possible those numbers don’t translate in this game specifically, but Boston’s explosive offense isn’t a fun one to bet against.
Beyond the splits, Norris just wasn’t great against this Boston offense in 2016, putting up a bad 5.40 ERA in a loss the only time he faced them. It was even worse in 2015, when Norris displayed his volatile nature with a ridiculous 13.50 ERA given up across just three innings of work.
Boston’s health has factored into these first two games, so we’ll bank on them mending a bit and hopefully getting some key hitters up against the beatable Norris. Last we heard. Betts had met the team in Detroit and his return could provide the jolt the Sox need.
Ultimately, Boston has the pitching edge here and in a hitter’s park, it’s going to be very tough to bank on this game staying low-scoring.
- Marco Estrada (0-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 6.00 ERA)
- Weather: Irrelevant (Dome)
- Moneyline: Blue Jays -138, Rays +118
The Blue Jays and Rays face off for the third straight day on Sunday, where two solid pitchers in Marco Estrada and Odorizzi take the mound in search of wins. Estrada may need to be especially effective in this one, as Toronto’s normally explosive offense has been slow to show up early in the year.
That might not be too much to ask of Estrada, who was passable in a 3-2 loss to the Orioles five days ago. Estrada returns to toe the rubber at Tropicana Field, where he’ll get a Tampa Bay squad that is red hot at the moment. Fortunately, Estrada has enjoyed plenty of success against his bitter rivals, sporting a strong 2.68 ERA in his last 9 appearances against the Rays.
On the other side, we have Odorizzi, who got blasted for four runs on seven hits in a 5-0 loss to the Yankees on April 4th. It was a less than desirable 2017 debut for Odorizzi, who tends to run a little hot and cold. Odorizzi is still perfectly capable of controlling games, however, and ironically enough actually was very strong against the Jays (2.40 ERA in 5 appearances) last year.
The pitching could ultimately be a wash, making the big question whether or not the Blue Jays plans to show up consistently as an offense. That’s tough to buy, given the fact that the Jays struggled (24th in 2016) at connecting on right-handed pitching. Until Toronto starts flashing their offensive upside on a regular basis, we may have to roll with the Rays, who have been playing fairly well and will be comfortable at home.
- CC Sabathia (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Wade Miley (9-13, 5.37 ERA)
- Weather: Sunny, high of 70.
- Moneyline: Yankees -103, Orioles -117
C.C. Sabathia is back at it on Sunday, as he leads the Yanks into the fray for the second time this year – this time in Baltimore against a deadly Orioles offense. Sabathia was flat out solid in his 2017 debut, scattering just three hits with no runs allowed in five innings against the Rays.
The 36-year old Sabathia will look to keep the positive momentum brewing on Sunday, and the numbers suggest he’ll have a great chance at doing so. Baltimore was 29th in the league last year and hitting against southpaws, while Sabathia himself delivered in this matchup, scoring a strong 2.30 ERA across 31 innings against the Orioles in 2016.
Wade Miley may not provide much resistance on the other side of this matchup. Miley remains a strikeout threat and has a slider he can lean on, but he’s about as volatile as starting pitchers come. We certainly saw that when Miley went up against New York in 2016, when he posted a bad 5.73 ERA across 11 innings of work with the Mariners.
Miley is capable of getting hot, but he’s in a worse park then he was a year ago and it’s quite possible his offense won’t be able to support him here. If Sabathia can keep the ball rolling in the right direction, Miley could be playing from behind all day.
- Stephen Strasburg (1-0, 2.57 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (1-0, 1.80 ERA)
- Weather: Sunny, high of 67.
- Moneyline: Nationals -180, Phillies +155
Stras is back at it on Sunday, as one of the game’s best young hurlers makes his second start of the season in a showdown with Jeremy Hellickson and the Phillies. Strasburg looked plenty strong in his season debut, delivering a healthy 2.57 ERA in a win over the Marlins. Strasburg can sling it as good as anyone and tends to be weighed down only by injuries and some predictability to his game. It could also be a mild concern that the Phillies forced him into a sluggish 5.14 ERA in 2016.
It’s going to be hard not to get behind Strasburg here, as he looked good in his first start and he’ll be facing a Phillies offense that batted 29th against righties a year ago. On top of that, the Nats have one of the most stacked and balanced offenses in the majors.
That brings us to Hellickson, who also looked good in his 2017 debut, as he stifled the Reds by scattering six hits and one earned run across five solid frames. Hellboy has been a solid K producer and has done well to limit his walks, but he remains rather hittable and specifically struggled in this matchup in 2016. The Nats did as they pleased against Hellickson last year, erupting for five homers and 14 hits across four games.
Ultimately, this matchup boils down to two things: Strasburg is the more talented pitcher and the Nats have a way better offense. The Phillies can get hot at home and Hellickson isn’t a scrub, but it’s going to be hard to bet against Washington.
- Julio Teheran (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (0-1, 9.00 ERA)
- Weather: Mostly sunny, high of 73.
- Moneyline: Braves +115, Pirates -135
The Braves visit PNC Park on Sunday as we get a nice pitcher’s duel between Julio Teheran and Gerrit Cole. Cole’s Pirates are easy favorites to get this one going, even though Cole got blasted for 5 runs in his season debut against Boston. He could be in a far more enviable position in this showdown, of course, where he’ll get an Atlanta squad he’s absolutely dominated (3-0 with a staggering 1.73 ERA) over the last three seasons.
Cole’s potential could be curbed a bit by Teheran, who can be volatile at times but also has the goods to be deadly in the right setting. The 26-year old righty is coming off a gem on Opening Day, when he spun six scoreless innings against the Mets. Teheran will have a decent chance of keeping things together in his second start, when he gets a Pirates offense that he shutout in one game in 2016.
With the pitching talent fairly even in this one, it may come down to the offense. As erratic as the Pirates can be, they seem to have a little more balance across the board and should get a boost at home. The Braves have two mashers in Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp, but if Cole can successfully work around him, the Pirates look like a strong bet.
- Nate Karns (0-0,54.00 ERA) vs. Lance McCullers (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
- Weather: Partly cloudy, high of 81.
- Moneyline: Royals +180, Astros -210
Sunday offers an interesting matchup in Houston, where an extremely lethargic Royals offense will try to figure out their woes against a dangerous arm in McCullers. McCullers was lights out in his 2017 debut, slaying Mariners to the tune of 7 strikeouts and just one earned run in six innings of work. McCullers boasts a scorching fastball and the natural talent to blow the Royals out of the park, while his only career start against KC produced a staggering 1.29 ERA in a win.
Karns takes the mound on the other side for Kansas City and will make his second appearance of the year. Karns wasn’t good against the Twins on April 5th, giving up four runs in less than a full inning. He’ll try to resemble the guy that somewhat contained the explosive Astros in 2016, where he handed out a respectable 3.32 ERA across 19 innings versus Houston.
The pitching matchup certainly rests in Houston’s favor, while the Astros are stacked with lefty bats that could give the inconsistent Karns serious problems. Houston has the clear edge in all regards here, so we’ll side with them at home.
- Ervin Santana (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. Jose Quintana (0-1, 10.13 ERA)
- Weather: Partly cloudy, high of 74.
- Moneyline: Twins +114, White Sox -134
Jose Quintana will try to make up for a rough Opening Day outing by dispatching the Twins on Sunday, as he prepares to make his second start for a surprisingly strong White Sox team. Chicago has been solid in all regards early on in 2017 and could pose a threat for Ervin Santana, who started off the year right by destroying the Royals.
Quintana is by far the more reliable arm in this matchup, as the lefty has a lot of strikeout upside and is in general a tough matchup for a Minnesota offense that batted 18th versus lefties in 2016. This has been a solid matchup for Chicago’s ace overall, too, with Quintana displaying solid enough form (3.21 ERA) across 75 innings over the last three seasons. Quintana has also benefited from playing at home, as he went a solid 7-5 with a cool 2.77 ERA at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Santana isn’t exactly a pushover, but he’s proven to be fairly volatile. Despite some ability to contain offenses, the 34-year old righty wasn’t dominant against a middling Chicago offense a year ago. He did post a 3.80 ERA in four meetings, displaying his uneven play with a 2-2 record.
This could be a pretty even matchup to start if Santana brings his A game, but there is no denying Quintana is the more dominant pitcher. With Quintana at home and Chicago’s bats looking strong early in the season, the White Sox are fairly easy to support here.
- Jake Arrieta (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Zach Davies (0-1, 12.46 ERA)
- Weather: Mostly cloudy, high of 72.
- Moneyline: Cubs -180, Brewers +155
The Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs continue their heated rivalry at Miller Park on Sunday, as the two NL Central residents face off for the third night in a row. Jimmy Nelson got the Brew Crew on the right path by taking down the Cubs (2-1) in the first game, but the Brewers look to be in a brutal spot here versus one of the best aces in the majors in Jake Arrieta.
Before we even get to Arrieta, let’s talk about Zach Davies, who is very likely in way over his head with this matchup. Davies was not good in his first start of the year April 4th, when he gave up six runs while also walking six and giving up nine hits against the Rockies. That’s not an easy matchup in a hitter’s park, but more was expected of Davies, who has a nice changeup and a fairly balanced skill-set.
That wasn’t the case, and we may not to combine his early form with his history against these Cubs – a team that has forced him into a poor 4.18 ERA across 28 innings.
Davis isn’t a bright spot on paper here, while Arrieta understandably is. The Cubs hurler looked good in his first start of the year on Opening Day, when he ripped up the Cardinals, scattering four hits with no earned runs across six innings in a 2-1 win. Arrieta’s form has been about just as good over the last three years against these Brewers, as Arrieta has gone 5-3 with a solid 2.89 ERA in 9 appearances against Milwaukee.
Arrieta isn’t immune to falling flat as he proved last year, but he’s done well to hold the Brewers in check and this offense hasn’t exploded yet in 2016. It’s unlikely they do here against Chicago’s best arm.
- Scott Feldman (0-1, 5.79 ERA) vs. Carlos Martinez (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
- Weather: Cloudy, high of 78.
- Moneyline: Reds +175, Cardinals -205
Following a pretty sluggish start to the season, the Cardinals’ bats finally came alive on Saturday as they scored 10 runs to beat Cincinnati, 10-4. Aledmys Diaz homered twice as the Cards took home their second win of the 2017 campaign.
They’ll have their ace on the hill today for the series finale. Carlos Martinez looked every bit the part in the opener against the Cubs, striking out 10 over 7.1 shutout innings in an eventual St. Louis victory. His combination of strikeouts and ground balls makes him one of the elite young right-handers in the game. He should be able to have his way today against a largely punchless Reds lineup.
Scott Feldman started Cincy’s season opener, but didn’t fare nearly as well. The veteran journeyman allowed three runs on seven hits and lasted just 4.2 innings in a loss to the Phillies. He’s obviously nothing close to an ace at this stage of his career. Feldman also thrives on inducing grounders, which is how he’s been able to enjoy such a lengthy career at the big league level.
In a pitching matchup so obviously one-sided, it’s easy to just take the chalk and roll with Martinez and the Cardinals. He pitched better on the road than he did in his home yard last season, but that’s hardly cause for concern. STL appears set up for an easy W today.
- Sean Manaea (0-0, 6.00 ERA) vs. Martin Perez (0-1, 4.50 ERA)
- Weather: Partly cloudy, high of 82.
- Moneyline: Athletics -131, Rangers +111
Despite having their ace on the hill last night, the Rangers lost for the fourth time in fifth games to begin the season last night. Yu Darvish was solid (six innings, four hits, one run allowed), but the Ranger bats couldn’t do anything with Kendall Graveman. Oakland’s opening day starter, who stifled Texas to the tune of a run on just two hits over the course of seven innings.
Martin Perez and Sean Manaea will square off on Sunday afternoon in the rubber match. Perez is another arm that lives off the ground ball. While he didn’t do that so well in the opener, he was still solid in his debut against the Indians as he gave up three runs over six innings in an eventual loss. Perez went 2-1 in four starts against the A’s last season and allowed 15 runs in 27 innings of work.
On the other side, we have Manaea, who hopes to emerge as Oakland’s ace this season. The big left-hander was touched up for four runs last week against the Angels, and he had mixed success vs. Texas last season (4.18 ERA in four starts). While Manaea was excellent at home last season, he really struggled away from o.Co Coliseum, where his ERA was nearly 5.00. He also has a problem with getting righties out, and hitters from that side of the plate clubbed 17 homers against him last year.
We don’t have much faith in either of these arms today, especially in such a hitter-friendly environment down in Texas. It’s going to be warm and windy in Arlington, which means we should see plenty of runs get put on the board. Take the over, and give a slight edge to Texas as the home team.
- Kenta Maeda (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. Tyler Anderson (1-0, 7.94 ERA)
- Weather: Cloudy, high of 58.
- Moneyline: Dodgers -126, Rockies +106
Coors Field is the best hitter’s park in all of baseball. So, of course, it only makes sense that the Rockies and Dodgers have combined to score a whopping nine runs over the first two games of their series. To be fair, though, some serious talent has been on the mound in each of those games. That’ll be the case again today as Kenta Maeda and the Dodgers look to avoid the sweep at the hands of Tyler Anderson and the Rockies.
Keeping the ball on the ground and striking people out is really the only way to succeed if you’re pitching half of your games in this ballpark. As a rookie last season, Anderson had a ground ball rate of about 50 percent (league average is 44), and a K-rate of 20.7 percent. So, he checks both of those boxes. He also happens to be a lefty, and the Dodgers’ struggles against southpaws over the last season or so have been well-documented. He’s in a good spot today.
Maeda didn’t pitch poorly in a loss to the Padres last week. He clearly didn’t have his A stuff, but a bunch of weak contact bloopers and grounders also happened to find holes. He was lifted after just five innings and would go on to take the L. Despite being a rookie last season, Maeda was excellent in three starts at Coors. He went 2-1 with a tiny 2.12 ERA, and didn’t seem phased by the thin air of Denver.
The Dodgers appear to be set up to enjoy better success against lefties this season, but we haven’t seen it yet. They’ve dropped each of the first two games against left-handed starters this season, and Anderson is an above-average pitcher. We’ll see plenty of offensive explosions in this ballpark this season, but it seems doubtful one is coming today.
I’d take the under on this massive total and lean towards Colorado.
- Hisashi Iwakuma (0-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. Matt Shoemaker (0-0, 3.60 ERA)
- Weather: Partly cloudy, high of 75.
- Moneyline: Mariners +113, Angels -133
Speaking of sweeps, the Angels have gotten off to a very strong 4-2 start to 2017. They’ll be looking to sweep away the Mariners today on the shoulders of Matt Shoemaker, who looked pretty good in his first start since a liner to the face ended his 2016 season.
Shoemaker didn’t factor into the decision against Oakland, but struck out four over five innings and allowed two runs in an eventual win. He’s a solid strikeout arm (21.4 percent K-rate last season), though the Mariners did some damage against him in ‘16. In four starts against the Ms, Shoemaker went 1-2 and allowed 12 runs in just over 18 innings. Angel Stadium isn’t a good park for hitters, though, and Seattle’s potent bats have been slow out of the gates.
The Mariners will counter with veteran Hisashi Iwakuma. The 35-year-old fared well earlier in the week against Houston, surrendering just a pair of runs in six innings of action. All indications are that he’s on the down swing of his career, though. Kuma’s ERA has been gradually trending upward over the last several seasons, though he was excellent against the Halos last year (3.12 ERA in five starts).
This one essentially feels like a toss-up. I’d give Anaheim the slight edge on the mound, but Shoemaker isn’t exactly some dominant force on most days. The Mariners should be desperate to avoid a 1-6 start, so today feels like a day for their bats to wake up.
- Corey Kluber (0-0, 7.50 ERA) vs. Patrick Corbin (0-1, 4.50 ERA)
- Weather: Partly cloudy, high of 82.
- Moneyline: Indians -200, Diamondbacks +170
The NL West looks upside down right now. Both the Rockies and Diamondbacks are 5-1, while the Giants are just 1-4 and the Dodgers are 3-3. It’s safe to say nobody expects all of these trends to continue, but it’s been an interesting start. Arizona has looked potent at the plate in the first week of the season, and they lead the majors in runs scored by a wide margin. The D-Backs have plated 45 runs through the first six games, and the next-closest team (Philadelphia, of all teams) has scored 31.
They’ll be in for a stiff test today against Indians ace Corey Kluber. The Klubot struggled in his first start against the Rangers, as Texas touched him up for five runs in six innings. He’ll have the misfortune of going up against baseball’s hottest offense in perhaps its second-most hitter-friendly park, as well.
The Tribe’s bats will have to deal with lefty Patrick Corbin. He lasted just four innings in Arizona’s eventual 8-4 defeat against San Francisco last Tuesday, giving up three runs on seven hits in the process. He figures to be a weak link in the Arizona rotation, which is a shame considering the promising start to his career. The Indians own an explosive offense of their own that ranked seventh in the majors in wOBA against lefties last season.
While I don’t expect Kluber to come out and shut down Arizona, I do expect the Indians to get to Corbin early. Taking the over and taking Cleveland to avoid the sweep makes sense.
- Johnny Cueto (1-0, 7.20 ERA) vs. Clayton Richard (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
- Weather: Mostly sunny, high of 68.
- Moneyline: Giants -164, Padres +142
The Giants certainly didn’t expect this. They’re facing a sweep at the hands of the plucky Padres today and will be looking to avoid a dismal 1-5 start to 2017. Madison Bumgarner pitched a complete game last night, but wound up taking the loss as the Giants’ bats couldn’t get to Jhoulys Chacin, for some reason.
San Francisco will be leaning on co-ace Johnny Cueto to get the job done today. He’s the only Giants pitcher with a victory on the young season, but it didn’t come easily. Cueto lasted just five innings against the Diamondbacks and allowed four runs on six hits, including a pair of homers. He was, however, incredibly dominant against San Diego last season. In four outings against the Pads, the right-hander allowed just five runs and struck out 29 in 32 innings.
Clayton Richard baffled the Dodgers in his first start of ‘17. The lefty is one of the game’s preeminent ground ball pitchers, and it was on full display in that one. He shut out LA over the course of eight innings and induced 16 ground ball outs in the 4-0 win. We have enough data to known that he’s not actually ace material, but he’s in a solid spot again today against a SF lineup that has plenty of lefty bats.
It’s tough to see where the runs come from today. Petco Park leans in the favor of pitchers, and both starters today appear to have excellent matchups on paper. We’re taking the under here for sure, and, because the Giants have Cueto on the hill, we’ll take them to avoid the sweep.
- Edinson Volquez (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Noah Syndergaard (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
- Weather: Clear, low of 46.
- Moneyline: Marlins +160, Mets -185
Sunday Night Baseball features the series finale between the Marlins and Mets from Citi Field in Queens. Both starters in this one will be looking to build off of excellent 2017 debuts. Noah Syndergaard shut down a mediocre Braves offense on opening day, while Volquez did the same against a much more potent Nationals lineup.
Whenever Thor is on the mound you know what to expect: strikeouts. Lots and lots of strikeouts. The Marlins had no answer for him last season. In three starts, Syndergaard went 2-0 with a tidy 1.80 ERA and struck out 29 Fish in just 20 innings. That’s quality. Miami has some solid bats in the order, but this offense isn’t potent enough for me to be concerned about Syndergaard’s performance in this one.
Volquez’s performance has fluctuated wildly over the course of his career. Some years he looks like an ace, other years he’s a total gas can. He looked like an ace in the opener, but suggesting he’s capable of performances like that on a regular basis is foolish. The Mets don’t have the most fearsome lineup in the world, either, but it’s easy to see Volquez coming back to earth in this spot.
It’s going to be another cold night in NYC, which certainly helps pitchers. Assuming Thor’s blister doesn’t come back to haunt him, he should be able to cruise through this game.