MLB Opening Day Picks: Back Strong Pitching with Cleveland and St. Louis

One of the greatest days of the year has come a bit later than expected, but that doesn’t take away from the beauty of Opening Day. Of course, following Opening Day is a long and grueling MLB season, and that applies to betting on baseball as well. The start of the season especially can be a feeling out process for what these teams may be in the new year. For now let’s pick on some established trends and lean on the familiar in a new season.

CLE F5 ML (-136) vs. KC, 4:10p 

Welcome back baseball and welcome back Shane Bieber! Dealing with a shoulder injury last season, Bieber only pitched in 16 starts with just under 100 innings. However, in that time Beiber tallied up impressive numbers especially at the start of the season in which he recorded a 2.76 ERA in the month of April.

Bieber is by far the better pitcher in this matchup against a regressing Zack Grienkie. Both offenses were bottom third of the league in wOBA and wRC+. The edge offensively does slightly lean towards the Guardians. If they can secure just a couple of runs for Bieber, that should be enough to take home the F5 winner.

PIT vs. STL RL -1.5 (+112), 4:15p

It’s not often that you’ll see me take a run line, but it just so happens that this is a really good spot to do so. The Pirates are really bad and they start the season on the road against a pitcher that dominated them last season. In four games Adam Wainwright posted a 14.50 SO/W, allowing just a .321 OPS with a .128 batting average. In fact, he pitched against the Pirates 3 times in the month of August last season and allowed 0 runs and just seven hits in 24 innings. Just insane dominance that can’t be ignored.

Add in the fact that the Cardinals lineup should tee off on JT Brubaker, who posted a 5.36 ERA last season, this should be a fun home opener for the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

HOU ML (+108) vs. LAA, 9:38p

This is one of those bets early on where a new season could bring different results. Houston is still good, but do take a step back offensively this season. Not to say the lineup is bad, but it’s going to be hard to repeat last year’s incredible performance this season, especially without Carlos Correa. And on the other side of that, the Angels are coming into the season healthy and that lineup at full strength is dangerous.

What I’m leaning on here is for Houston to continue it’s dominance against RHP and it will be a tough first start for Ohtani. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ohtani and think he’s a phenomenal pitcher, but Framber Valdez is also a very good pitcher as well. Also, don’t fear betting against great pitchers. Jacob deGrom doesn’t win very many games and Ohtani doesn’t either. In fact, the Angels lost every game Ohtani pitched in the month of May last season and he didn’t pick up his second win until the beginning of June. Houston is the better team and I like a little bit of plus money here.

SDP vs. ARI F5 ML (+128), 9:40p 

This was at a much better price earlier, so know you’re not getting the best value here, but this is a spot I do like. The pitching matchup, believe it or not, the Diamondbacks may have a slight advantage in the pitching matchup here. In the last three months of the regular season Madison Bumgarner actually posted a better ERA than the Padres starting pitcher Yu Darvish. At the end of June, Darvish sported a 2.44 ERA, but ended the season with an ERA of 4.22. 

Does Darvish start the season as bad as he ended it? It’s not a guarantee, but it was concerning seeing Darvish fall apart at the end of the season because it’s happened before in 2018. Although the Diamondbacks were the worst team in baseball against RHP, they were still able to best Darvish twice in the last three games they faced him. The last two games in particular, Darvish was chased out in the third inning and allowed five earned runs in each of those two games.

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