Jose Miranda, right, of the Minnesota Twins is congratulated by Joey Gallo after hitting a home run against the Boston Red Sox during a spring training game at Jet Blue Park on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. The Twins won. Twins Win004
After a 3-0 sweep moved Dalton Brown to 7-2 on MLB plays this season, he’s back with another three-pack for Sunday’s action.
12:40 p.m. CT: New York Mets at Miami Marlins
The Pick: Mets moneyline (-120) at DraftKings
New York completes its four-game series against the Miami Marlins on Sunday afternoon from LoanDepot Park, and I like the Metropolitans to win their third out of the four. Kodai Senga makes his MLB debut for the Mets after a 10-year career in Japan. The 30-year-old was coveted by many big league clubs and enters Sunday’s game with lofty expectations. There is always variance afoot when backing a pitcher making his major league debut, but I think we’ll look back weeks from now and wonder why the market wasn’t higher on Senga to begin with. I’m also backing the Mets with confidence because of what we saw from Marlins starter Trevor Rogers last season. Rogers had a poor season overall but was especially poor versus the Mets. New York scored seven runs – six of them earned – against the southpaw in 9.1 innings. There is a very strong chance that the Mets have the better of the two starting pitchers in this matchup, and it is no secret that New York boasts a better bullpen and lineup. The Mets should clearly be a bigger favorite.
12:40 p.m. CT: Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds
The Pick: Reds First 5 Innings moneyline (-135) at BetMGM
I am going back to the well for the second consecutive day with the Reds in the first five innings. Cincinnati will take on Pirates starter Vince Velasquez, who was hit hard all season in 2022. Velasquez has produced well below-average results throughout his career, and like Rich Hill, I’m not expecting that a move to Pittsburgh will turn his career around. Last season, Velasquez’s barrel rate and average exit velocity allowed were worse than any pitcher in Major League Baseball. On a warmer, sunnier day in Cincinnati, the Reds should be able to score plenty in the early innings. Cincinnati sends Graham Ashcraft to the mound – and while Ashcraft’s results were poor at times last season, a quick look at his advanced metric profile shows he’s due for positive regression. Ashcraft posted a 4.89 ERA for Cincinnati last season, but Baseball Savant data shows that his expected ERA was 4.02. He doesn’t create a ton of swings-and-misses but prevents barrels at an 88th-percentile rate. In spring training, Ashcraft pitched to a 2.60 ERA while striking out 25 batters and walking just two. I think he’ll do enough to stake the Reds to a lead heading into the sixth.
1:10 p.m. CT: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals
The Pick: Twins First 5 Innings -0.5 (-105) at FanDuel
The Kansas City Royals have played two games this season, and have yet to score. They will eventually, but it might take them a while with second-year starting pitcher Joe Ryan toeing the rubber for the Twins. Ryan carved up the Royals over four starts last season, pitching 24 innings while allowing just three runs. In two starts on the road at Kauffman Stadium, Ryan completed 11.2 innings while allowing just one run. The Royals are turning to Brad Keller on the mound, who lost his spot in the starting rotation last season due to poor performance. Keller’s two starts against Minnesota played a part in that demotion – the Twins demolished the righty for 10 runs over 11 innings. Minnesota has a clear advantage, especially early on in Sunday’s game. Through five innings, I think the Twins will be well on their way to a sweep.