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MLB 2021 Opening Day best bets: Expect Yankees to prevail, Dodgers slugfest at Coors Field, more

With the start of the 2021 Major League Baseball season comes my return to best bets. I started doing this daily during the playoffs and ended up going 26-18 with an 8-4 record in the World Series and game and over/under bets while hitting some longshot home run picks as well. 

Some great success was found in the “stick with what works” lane and we won’t be straying this season, once we actually find out what does work. 

Something you’ll see me preach a lot this year is winning over value. That is, who cares about getting good “value” on odds if you lose? You still lost. Pick winners. Yes, we’d love to find winners with better value, but at the end of the day, we’re trying to win. 

We’ll be here on a weekly basis throughout the season on Fridays, but with this being opening day — along with an abbreviated schedule on Friday — there was an adjustment for this week. Let’s get off to a good start, gang. 

Pick(s): Over 11, Dodgers win

Go nuts and take the Dodgers here even at -213 and on the run line because they’ll almost certainly win by more than 1.5. The odds on the over at -105 and have the best payout here. 

First things first, yes, we know the ball is supposed to be more dead this season and it’s why I’m dubious on looking at several of the run totals. It’s tough to know what to expect. The thing about Coors Field being a hitter haven, though, is that it isn’t because of excessive home runs nearly as much as it is the spacious outfield dimensions increasing the batting average on balls in play. The Dodgers offense is so good and deep that I’m expecting a hit parade here. 

In addition to the ballpark being so hitter friendly, Rockies starter German Marquez gets beaten up at home. In 13 2019 starts in Coors, he had a 6.26 ERA and allowed opposing hitters to slash .317/.354/.495. Last year those figures were 5.68 and .296/.345/.414. The Rockies’ bullpen isn’t very good either. 

Now, with an April 1 game in Denver, we might worry about it being freezing cold and that’s fair. Only the weather report right now says a high of 70 degrees and it’s a day game (the first pitch is scheduled for 2:10 local time). 

In all honesty, my biggest fear here is a Dodgers 11-0 or 10-1 win screwing me out of the over. They are gonna win and score a lot. If you agree, the Dodgers’ total runs on their own are listed “more bets” and then “runs” and you can get +119 odds for over seven runs, +140 over 7.5, +180 over eight and +205 over 8.5. 

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Pick: Yankees -1.5 (+120)

Latest Odds:

New York Yankees
-1.5

The balls are deadened and it’s supposed to be cold, so there’s potential for a duel here in the Bronx with Hyun-Jin Ryu getting the ball for the Blue Jays against Gerrit Cole and the Yankees. I really wanted to grab the under here, but the total is 7.5 runs. Are we really confident in these two offenses combining for seven or fewer runs even in cold weather against aces? It’s certainly still enticing, but I’m gonna go with Cole here. He’s susceptible to the longball, yes, but he keeps guys off base and strikes out a ton. Even if he makes a few mistakes, the most likely bad scenario for me is a solo homer or two. 

For what it’s worth, Cole’s last two outings in the regular season in 2020 came against the Blue Jays. Both times he went seven innings and allowed just one run. 

Ryu’s last outing of 2020 came against the Yankees and he worked seven scoreless innings, but his previous time out he allowed five earned runs in five innings, courtesy of three Yankees’ homers. The Yankees are righty-heavy and while they were worse against lefties last season, I’m willing to write off some of the 60-game small sample. In 2019, the Yankees wore out lefties with pretty similar personnel. 

And if it comes down to the back-ends of the bullpens, I feel more safe with the Yankees even without Zack Britton. I feel like they’ll get seven from Cole and then finish with Chad Green and Aroldis Chapman

The Yankees’ money line is -177 and if you want that — like I said, I’ll always stress winning over “value” — take it. I think we’re safe on a multi-run win, though, so I’m going with the run line at -1.5 with better odds. 

Rays at Marlins, 4:10 p.m. ET

Pick: Marlins win (+135)

Latest Odds:

Miami Marlins
+135

Something else we’re going to openly discuss in this space this year is that we aren’t betting on series. Even then, betting on baseball is tough when trying to dig into every number. Betting on individual games? That’s not a hard-and-fast science. We can play odds, note tendencies and everything else that I’ve already done here. It’s still incredibly predictable, which means at times I’m just gonna throw a gut prediction out there. 

Here’s all I have if we were pretending there wasn’t some gut feel involved. 

  • Tyler Glasnow is really talented and will get plenty of swings-and-misses. He also had a 4.08 ERA in 11 regular-season starts last year. In six playoff starts, he had a 6.28 ERA. 
  • The Marlins have some offensive players capable of getting to him and if they do, the Rays’ bullpen was hurt late in the spring with the injury to Nick Anderson
  • Marlins’ starter Sandy Alcantara had a nice, albeit totally abbreviated, season last year and though he was shelled on Aug. 30 against the Rays, it was his first start returning from having COVID-19. Next time out, he faced the Rays again and dominated. In his last five starts, he had a 2.30 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings. 

There’s a reason the Rays are favored here. They are better. It’s also a single game and funky things happen on opening day. The three bullet-points above give me enough reason to like the Marlins to take this one at home as they attempt to build off their feel-good playoff run last season. 

SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh has crushed MLB picks over the last three seasons, returning $3,178 to $100 bettors. He’s shared a huge five-leg parlay for Opening Day featuring his top picks from Thursday, including one nearly 2-to-1 underdog to win outright! Get Oh’s Opening Day parlay only at SportsLine.

Bonus pick: Bryce Harper homers

Unfortunately I’m not finding the props odds on William Hill, but I’m recommending this in case anyone can find it anywhere. Hell, bet a friend if you can get the proper odds (5-1 or so, maybe, as a starting point in negotiations). 

Harper homered twice on his first opening day in 2013. He also homered on opening day in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Though it’s been a few years, in 2019 he actually homered in games two, three and four. In 2018, he homered twice in game three and then once each in games four and five. Last season he hit his first homer in game three. 

For whatever reason, he likes to storm out of the gate with power. 

Now, some might worry about the opposing pitcher being Braves stud Max Fried and that’s fair, especially with Fried being a lefty-lefty matchup here. While Harper is certainly worse against lefties, his career splits aren’t extreme. He’s also 4 for 13 (.308) with two homers in his career against Fried. 

Best of fortune to all bettors! 




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