The wait is over. Major League Baseball is finally here.
After months of unknown circumstances, ridiculous posturing and callous negotiating, the 2020 MLB regular season begins its journey at 7 p.m. EST. The summer hasn’t been void of hot nights, fireworks or family time.
It has, however, been vacant of its most beautiful pastime. That all ends this evening, as the New York Yankees take on the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. The event will be followed by a West Coast tilt matching the Los Angeles Dodgers up against the San Francisco Giants at 10 p.m. EST.
Here is a quick rundown to help get you up to speed with recent developments and perhaps take you to the window. Ingest this information, sit back and enjoy the stars of summer. Oh yeah, and makes some money while you’re at it.
LAD RL (-140)
This may be the best play of the day, but it lacks promise of being a contentious game. The favorites of the National League take on a rebuilding Giants team that lacks firepower in the box and on the mound. Veterans Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria are starting the season on the IL for injuries unrelated to COVID-19. San Fran’s most prolific bat right now is, God love him, Hunter Pence. Their most talented player, catcher Joey Bart, isn’t on the Opening Day roster.
Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers look to rebound from a disappointing 2019 postseason. The veteran ace takes the mound riding quite a streak. Kershaw is 5-1 with a 1.05 ERA in his last eight Opening Day starts. He is also a Giant killer! The Cy Young award winner has performed the best against San Francisco than any other team. With a record of 23-12 and an ERA of 1.74, Kershaw proves to be above par when facing the Giants.
Add to the mix that Los Angeles just locked up Mookie Betts for 12 years and $365 million, and that’s one happy clubhouse who doesn’t need a boost to overwhelm the likes of San Francisco. Give me the Dodgers minus the 1.5 and I will rest easy.
NYY/WAS OVER 7.5
The first game of the night provides the most spark. The defending champs take on the Evil Empire from the Bronx. Two of the game’s best arms go against one another in Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole.
Mad Max is as hungry as ever despite coming off the high of winning a world championship. Reports are that Scherzer threw in simulated games with and against other veterans in an undisclosed location in Florida during the shutdown. This comes as no surprise. The three-time Cy Young Award winner relies on grit and fury to mow down batters and eat innings.
However, he is not quite his usual self against the Yankees. Mad Max holds a 4-3 record and 4.04 ERA against New York. And the way Yankee players have been hitting the ball during Summer Camp, I expect an uptick in runs. Especially at the hands of Scherzer who is not afraid to throw fastballs for strikes.
On the bump for the Yankees is the AL ERA champ from 2019, Cole. Perhaps the gunslinger is sour about not getting Cy Young. He certainly has to be bitter about not getting to close out the World Series against Nats.
This Washington team will look a bit different with the departure of NL MVP Anthony Rendon. As Jeff Passan reports, Juan Soto has tested positive for Coronavirus. That certainly doesn’t help matters. But their bats will still be lethal with the likes of Trea Turner and rookie Carter Kieboom.
Cole has a 1-2 record with a 4.41 ERA in three games at Nationals Park. These two pitchers may look electric at times, but thanks to a juiced lineup for the Yanks and triumphant return home for the Nats, this game will go over 7.5 total runs despite missing some pop.
NYY ML (-130)
It’s not hard to bet the Yankees blind in most cases. But this time, it gets tricky. For me though, it’s simple. New York averaged an MLB-best 5.8 runs per game in 2019. The Nationals were 6th, averaging 5.31. The Savages even turned it up a notch on the road, boasting an unbelievable 6.13 mark.
Ultimately, the never-ending lineup for New York should get to Scherzer to the tune of at least three or four runs. I think Cole on the other hand will fare better. Washington may be riding high off of the return home, but the absence of fans will deflate that energy quickly. Once New York gets to Washington’s bullpen, they should feast. The Yankees have won two out of the past three in this matchup. They keep that edge rolling here.