This article is part of our MLB Betting series.
Only the Astros and Athletics are off Sunday, meaning there are a lot of games to choose from for some action. Three aces are set to take the mound, two of which, Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw, square off against each other. Otherwise, the majority of matchups feature back-end starters, leaving bullpen analysis and positive hitting context as particularly important factors when evaluating the slate.
Detroit at Cleveland, 1:10 p.m. EDT
The Pick: Cleveland -1.5 (+108) (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Cleveland has a slight advantage in a couple aspects, beginning with starting pitching. Urena has completed five innings in only three of his last six starts (dating to 2020) and was crushed by the Twins in his first outing of 2021. Detroit has a 6.08 ERA this season, with only Pittsburgh and Oakland behind it. The bullpen has a lot to do with that, as it has a 7.08 ERA in 34.1 innings. Given Urena's deficiency in both skills and his difficulty working deep into games, even Cleveland's subpar offense should have the chance to tee off.
That stands in contrast to the pitching situation in Cleveland. While Allen is no sure thing, Cleveland won a blowout Saturday. Most important, Aaron Civale worked 7.2 innings, leaving each of the team's highest-leverage relievers — Nick Wittgren, Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak — rested and available to protect any lead.
Royals at Chicago White Sox, 2:10 p.m.
The Pick: White Sox -1.5 (+145) (DraftKings Sportsbook)
This isn't likely to be a pretty pitching matchup on either side, so give me the White Sox bats in any potential shootout. Dating to last season, the White Sox have a 143 wRC+ against southpaws, the highest mark in the league. While both Eloy Jimenez and Tim Anderson are absent, the middle of the team's order should still feast. Yasmani Grandal (177 wRC+), Jose Abreu (138 wRC+) and Luis Robert (136 wRC+) have track records of hitting southpaws.
Colorado at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m.
The Pick: Colorado +110 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Marquez has done well preventing runs in each of his starts this season — both of which have come at Coors Field — maintaining a 3.60 ERA. Sunday will mark his first chance to work on the road where he's excelled throughout his career. The Rockies were 5-2 in Marquez's road starts last season. Marquez faces a Giants team that has managed only a 78 wRC+ against right-handed pitching this season.
The pick is a bit precarious based on the Rockies' own struggles to score on the road. However, DeSclafani's success in his first start appears to be fool's gold, as seven of the 16 batted ball events against him exceeded 100 mph. Nine of his 16 batted ball events had an xBA of .360 or more, yet four turned into outs.