Holy shit, we’ve made it. We made it to this beautiful day. The start of the 2021 MLB season. Opening Day is the second greatest day of the year only behind the opening of March Madness. If you don’t crack open a beer, and eat your body weight in hotdogs/brats, are you even American? You know who doesn’t enjoy Opening Day? Terrorists. That’s who.
Presumptions to start
As is the case in every sport, the beginning of a season is the hardest time to gamble. We are left to assume what each team will be based on rosters, and past player performances but I’m never going to complain about that. The trend of pitchers rarely going over 5-6 innings is what I’m most interested in seeing. Sure, we know the stud starters who can bulldoze their way through a lineup, but how will they be used? How short will the leash be? Hitters can start slow, or go into slumps, but as long as they are in the lineup you can at least predict opportunities, but pitching doesn’t give you that luxury.
Do we back established starters today? Or do we value bullpen depth in chances of a starter being pulled early and it becoming a game that we see 5 guys take the mound? My advice is that there really isn’t a set in stone answer to that. But fear not my loyal following of 3 readers, I have all of the picks you need. Sit back, throw in a dip, crack a beer, place some money on my bets, and watch some beautiful baseball!
The good stuff
Cardinals +100 vs. Cincinnati
After an offseason where we saw the Cardinals improve the middle of their lineup, I think they have been greatly undervalued. I don’t think the Cardinals will be putting up 7 runs per game, but they don’t have to here. Jack Flaherty can contain the Reds offense which is over valued, and the Cards can score enough to win this game. The Cardinals are going to win the NL Central, and getting an opening day win will set them on their way.
Giants vs. Mariners under 9
I genuinely like the Mariners more than most this year, but I’m very down on the Giants. Marco Gonzales will be taking the mound, and after a very good year last season I think he picks up where he left off and limits this Giants offense and the Mariners offense isn’t something we are worried about putting up a ton of runs. Clear under spot.
Mariners (-105) vs. San Francisco
This is due largely to the reason I previously mentioned with the under pick. Marco Gonzales was a shining light last year for Seattle, and I for see him picking right back up. This Giants team will roll out Kevin Gausman, and has a lineup made up of Yaz, Longoria, and Buster Posey, non of which really terrify me. Maybe I’m wrong but I just don’t see the Giants lineup having too much success, and for that reason I’ll take Seattle.
Cubs -210 vs. Pittsburgh
As much as I’d love to see the Cubs lose this game, I don’t see how. Kyle Hendricks on the mound against possibly the worst team in the National League? I’ll take that matchup every time. Hendricks is the king of efficiency, and I really think he controls this game from the first pitch. I’d love to lay the runs with the Cubs, but I still need to see this offense sustain the ability to score runs. After seeing the heart of this lineup struggle at times last year I’m not ready to lay anything. Take the Cubs, and I wouldn’t blame you if you took them -1.5.
White Sox -1.5 (+135) vs Angels
Even with the injury to Eloy Jimenez this White Sox team is still going to score runs. I talked to White Sox Dave from Barstool Sports, who is one of the most knowledgeable guys in the buisness on the White Sox, and although he said nothing good comes of this, he laid out a plan of attack that was Vaughn sliding in at left, Collins at first, and Abreu taking the DH role. The Eloy injury sucks, but that lineup doesn’t become bad because of it. Everyone who is forced to step up into bigger roles all have the potential to be great, and impact the team.
I’m not worried about facing Dylan Bundy if I’m this White Sox lineup, and with Lucas Giolito on the mound for the White Sox we know from experience that he can be extremely effective as we saw from his no hitter, while flirting with a second also. I’ll take the electric bats of the White Sox, and pitching ability of Giolito over this good Angels team.
Padres -1.5 (-106) vs. Arizona
Madison Bumgarner takes the mound for the Padres…yes, the Madison Bumgarner who has an ERA over 6.4 in his last nine starts. Yes the Madison Bumgarner who as many earned runs allowed as he does strike outs in 42 innings. This high ceiling, powerful Padres lineup should have no problem putting the bat on the ball and scoring runs. With Yu Darvish on the mound for San Diego I think this becomes a long day for this Arizona offense. Yu doesn’t typically get shell shocked, so with the run potential the Padres have in this matchup I’ll gladly lay the runs.
Red Sox -1.5 (+118) vs. Baltimore
I’m way higher on the Red Sox than alot of the media that I’ve seen. Obviously this squad isn’t as dangerous as they once were, but they still have enough pieces to be dangerous. Nathan Eovaldi is projected to start at the time I’m writing this, and although he isn’t a power house pitcher, he is more than capable of slowing down this lack luster Orioles offense, and joke of a franchise Baltimore has. With John Means the projected starter for the Orioles I really like this Sox lineup to put up 5-6 runs. Give me the Sox and I’ll give you the runs. This is probably my favorite bet of the day. Also don’t hate the Under 9.5 here either.
This time of year, going from March Madness, to opening day is absolutely great. Is there truly anything more American than hopping in your 80’s square body Ford, with the big boy 460 big block (not that sissy small block) screaming out of some 2″ straight pipes while Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard, or George Strait blasts out of some dirt covered speakers?
Then you drive the ol girl to the grocery store where you pick up a dirty 30, some charcoal, a few steaks, and some hot dogs (the generic brand ones because they taste better not because they are cheaper) then making some corny jokes to the kinda rude old lady working the cash register. You hop back in your truck, toss in the CD you burned back in 08 with “the boys are back in town” on it and blasting that banger on repeat so loud that your neighbors hear you pulling in off the highway.
After pulling into your driveway you toss some of the charcoal in the starter, go inside to put on your favorite cut off that has some holes in it, but makes your arms look bigger than they are so you still wear it, then head back out to cook your dinner and toss a few beverages back with your neighbor with the handle bar mustache. You polish off 19 or 20 of those 12 ounce cans that contain the nectar of the gods, and shovel 3 pounds of beef down your gullet, before you sit down to enjoy the afternoon and night games on Opening Day. After a shower, and some Advil to combat that headache you’ll have from drinking 26 beers tomorrow morning, you head to bed. Full. Happy. Pretty drunk……what a day that would be. No day has sounded so perfect.
To a great season!
Good luck to everyone with your bets! And if I have any readers from the Midwest (let’s be honest, I don’t have readers let alone any from a specific region of the country) remember that Opening Day also means that moral mushrooms will be popping in a couple weeks. Magical time of the year!