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For the first time in nearly 10 months, we have a full slate of MLB games. After Thursday’s two-game appetizer, every other squad will commence its 2020 season Friday. While the 60-game campaign will certainly be unpredictable, fans and bettors are nonetheless eager for live sports. With help from our friends at the newly launched Fade The Noise, Pitcher List is joining the sports betting scene. Here’s a look at some appealing wagers to kick off the season.
It’s a bit curious to see this game assigned the day’s second-highest over-under line on FanDuel behind Baltimore vs. Boston. The Rockies aren’t hosting the Rangers at Coors Field. Nor is the contest taking place in Globe Life Park in Arlington, as the Rangers will debut their new stadium. While it’s not yet certain how the new venue will play, Joey Gallo expressed some concern about his new home favoring pitchers.
Globe Life Field will feature an unheralded pitcher’s duel in its infancy. Although Coors Field claimed him as yet another victim last season, German Marquez posted a 3.67 ERA and 0.94 WHIP on the road. Lance Lynn, meanwhile, matched that 3.67 ERA throughout 2019 alongside a 3.15 FIP and 28.1% K rate. He’ll face a Rockies lineup that faltered away from Coors, finishing only ahead of the Marlins in wRC+ (74) on the road. Barring a bullpen meltdown, this matchup should comfortably hit the under.
Pick: Under (-114 FD, +102 DK)
The oddsmakers favor the Cubs to the Brewers. According to Fade The Noise’s Prop Shop, the Cubs flaunt a higher preseason over-under wins tally and are given a higher probability across the board to win the division. This is despite the Brewers besting them in the 2018 and 2019 standings.
While it’s nice to see someone appreciate Kyle Hendriks, this matchup is far closer to a toss-up when eliminating any actual home-field advantage. The Cubs went 51-30 at Wrigley Field last season, but does any of that edge translate without fans? Since Milwaukee receives slightly favorable odds, let’s find out.
The Brewers won’t counter The Professor with a slouch. Brandon Woodruff wielded a 3.62 ERA and 3.02 FIP in a breakout 2019. He’s backed by a bullpen that tied Boston for an MLB-high 26.6% K rate despite missing Corey Knebel last year. While the DH doesn’t unleash any significant Chicago sluggers (Kyle Schwarber would have started in the outfield anyway), the Brewers can now unleash left-handed masher Justin Smoak against Hendricks.
The bullpens could swing this close contest, and the Cubs possess few reliable relief options. Milwaukee is on the only betting underdog projected to win by Fade The Noise’s MLB Optimizer.
Houston Astros Total Runs (4.5 FD, 5.5 DK)
The Astros scored 5.7 runs per game last season. The Mariners allowed 5.5. Houston pulverized left-handed pitchers to an MLB-best 131 wRC+ in 2019. That dominance extended to Marco Gonzales, who surrendered a 5.66 ERA and 1.84 WHIP in four starts against the AL champs. Wondering if the starting southpaw doesn’t even go five frames in his season debut? Seattle’s bullpen also ranked 22nd in ERA and 24th in FIP last year.
There are a few intriguing betting avenues to explore. Houston could cover an overwhelming majority of FanDuel’s 7.5-run game line, but the -120 odds don’t provide much profit potential. If trusting an Astros rout, there’s far more upside (+215 DK, +185 FD) to them winning by at least four runs. A reasonable compromise is taking Houston’s run tally. Since FanDuel’s safer choice comes at -122 odds, don’t be afraid to go up a run for a +112 line on DraftKings.
Pick: Over (+112 DK)
Pirates vs. Cardinals: Total Runs After 3 Innings (O/U 2.5, -105/-118 DK, -108/-114 FD)
OK, so this might be too obscure given the limited payout. Hear me out. Jack Flaherty, who allowed 10 runs after the All-Star break, also yielded just 10 runs the first time through the batting order in 2019. That played out to a 0.99 ERA and .177 opposing wOBA. St. Louis’s ace should start strong against a listless Pittsburgh lineup.
Speaking of starting strong, Joe Musgrove initially looked like 2019’s breakout star. The righty went three outings before a relinquishing run and ended April with a sparkling 1.54 ERA before his season suddenly went south. His struggles rarely occurred early in games; Musgrove twirled a 2.49 ERA the first time through the order. The Cardinals, who are not yet welcoming Dylan Carlson to the majors, could dearly miss Marcell Ozuna in the middle of their middling lineup. Expect a low-scoring affair, and consider betting on this early outcome since the Pirates and Cardinals enter Friday without potential closers Keona Kela and Giovanny Gallegos, respectively.
First Mets Player to Hit a Home Run in 2020 Season (FanDuel)
Mike Soroka stymied fellow righties to a .281 slugging percentage and just five home runs last season. Against 300 left-handed batters faced (101 fewer than RHP), he served up a .419 SLG and nine long balls. Since he’s toeing the rubber for Atlanta on Opening Day, it makes sense to take one of the Mets’ left-handed hitters for this FanDuel prop. Besides, where’s the fun in taking betting favorite Pete Alonso (+250) as the first Met to touch them all in 2020?
Jeff McNeil is still perceived as an old-school contact hitter, but he altered that reality with a power-laden second half. After making his first All-Star appearance, he proceeded to clobber 16 homers in the final 57 games. He batted .320/.387/.564 with a 150 wRC+ against righties, and it certainly helps that he’s almost certain to open from the lineup’s first or second slot. Throw a small sum on the Flying Squirrel.
Pick: Jeff McNeil (+700)
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Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)