2018 MLB Opening Day Underdog Betting Picks

2018 MLB Opening Day Underdog Betting Picks

Written by on March 9, 2018

Opening Day around baseball is March 29 and every team is in action. When entering an MLB season from a betting perspective, it’s important to remember which teams will start the season without injured players. For example, the Red Sox will be without second baseman and former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia for likely the first month at least following offseason knee surgery. Here are two underdog picks for MLB Opening Day. Check back for the latest MLB odds on the week of Opening Day.

2018 MLB Opening Day Underdog Betting Picks

Chicago Cubs at Miami Marlins

When: 12:30 PM ET, Marlins Park (ESPN)There’s absolutely no doubt that the Marlins will be the worst team in the majors this season and they have by far the lowest season win total at Mybookie.ag. New ownership, led by Derek Jeter, completed a total fire sale this offseason.In 2017, the Marlins had perhaps the best outfield in baseball. The trio of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich combined to hit 114 home runs and drive in 337 runs. Naturally, Miami got rid of them in separate trades to the Yankees, Cardinals, and Brewers, respectively. The club also sent second baseman Dee Gordon to the Marlins. The only player you have heard of that Miami got back in those trades was second baseman Starlin Castro from New York, and he’s not likely to be around all season.Both FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus are projecting the Marlins to be the worst team in the National League, pegging the club at 64 and 66 wins, respectively. So why would I pick the underdog Marlins here? For one, it’s probably the only game they will sellout all season so the players will actually care. Second, teams are likely to take them for granted as an easy win. This is still baseball, though. Every team wins at least 60 games.

Who Will Start for the Marlins?

Miami’s Opening Day starter is likely to be Dan Straily, who was decent last year at 10-9 with a 4.26 ERA. Not special numbers, but he made more than 30 starts for the second straight season and his 8.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 were career bests. And Straily has a chip on his shoulder, saying he wants to be cornerstone of the team’s rebuilding plans.“I really agreed with what happened,” said Straily of the trades. “I feel like with the pieces they brought in, this might flip around a little quicker than people realize. I’m not saying today, but I’m excited to be here and try to mentor guys coming into the big leagues for the first time.”The Cubs are favored to win the NL Central again and will start lefty Jon Lester. He was a Cy Young candidate in 2016 but slipped to 13-8 with a 4.33 ERA last year. Lester’s step backward coincided with his former personal catcher David Ross’ retirement following the 2016 season. He’s now 34 years old and posted the lowest average velocities of his career on his four-seam fastball and sinker last season as well as his highest wOBA allowed to right-handed hitters (.344).In addition, Lester has a phobia of throwing to first base. Lester’s issues throwing to bases are well documented by this point in his career, and many teams attack him through bunts and the running game. The Marlins, like many others, will take advantage.

Houston Astros at Texas Rangers

When: 3:30 PM ET, Globe Life Park in Arlington (ESPN)Usually, Major League Baseball tries to have the defending World Series champions at home but instead is having Houston open at bitter rival Texas. These teams hate each other and the Rangers would love nothing more than to rain on Houston’s parade in the opener.Last year to stoke the rivalry, Rangers manager Jeff Bannister was quoted as saying, “All I know is they get to put Houston on their chest, we get to put Texas on ours.” Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. would fire back on twitter stating, “It’s because nobody knows what Arlington is.”When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston last summer, the the Astros and Rangers could not negotiate swapping series, which forced the Astros to play a series of “home” games against the Rangers at Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. That irked the Astros big time. It surely irks Texas as well that it came close to winning the World Series a couple of times but still never has and now Houston owns the first World Series title in the state of Texas.Are the Texas Rangers a safe bet on Opening Day 2018?

Who Will Start for the Astros?

Houston has named Justin Verlander as the Opening Day starter – the Astros don’t win the World Series if they don’t acquire Verlander from the Tigers late last August. Verlander will get the ball over Dallas Keuchel, who has started for Houston on Opening Day in each of the previous three seasons. Verlander went 5-0 while posting a 1.06 ERA and 43:5 K:BB across 34 innings after being acquired by the Astros at the trade deadline last year. Counting the postseason, he had nine wins, a 1.66 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and 31.6 percent strikeout rate in his 10 starts for his new team.Texas hasn’t named its starting pitcher yet but it surely will be Cole Hamels, who was 11-6 with a 4.20 ERA last year. His 17.1 percent strikeout rate last season was easily the lowest of his career, while his 8.6 percent walk rate tied his second-highest.The Rangers are thinking about trying something that isn’t new, but is still controversial among pitchers: the six-man rotation. Hamels hates the idea: “It’s not part of baseball. I know that’s the new analytical side of trying to reinvent the wheel, but I was brought up in the Minor Leagues on the five-man, and that’s what I’m designed and conditioned for.”

Expert MLB Opening Day Betting Predictions

I won’t recommend the Marlins often, but they surprise the Cubs. The Rangers take joy in ruining Houston’s first game since the World Series.
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