It has been a long wait but finally, we have baseball back and it feels great. Through the first two days of the season, we have seen all 30 teams take to the field with some interesting outcomes. As expected we have seen some mixed results, with some pitchers taking advantage of the rusty hitting that the start of any season brings. However, we have also seen some hitters take advantage of the warmer weather than they are used to at the beginning of a season, putting up some big numbers through the first two days. Entering the first Saturday of the season, we will see our first glimpse of a full daytime slate and just how that affects the balance between hitters and pitchers. The buzzword for betting MLB games this weekend is caution, but with a full day of to welcome us to our first weekend of baseball in 2020, what value can we find for the 7/25 slate?
A July Opening Day is something that was always going to be of interest in terms of how it would affect the totals. So far through two days, the results are fairly even, with the over sitting at 16-14-2. Often we can see the under tend to be the better play through the first couple of weeks of the season, so for the over to be hitting slightly more through two days is an interesting omen for the rest of the 2020 season. That will be something to keep an eye on through the first week or so and how the sportsbooks react.
It is too early to make any serious judgment on the form of teams with many having played just one game. Of the teams to have played more than one game, the Los Angeles Dodgers are 2-0 ATS having put up a total of 17 runs while allowing just two against the San Francisco Giants (0-2 ATS). That could be a common trend for both of those teams this season, but it has definitely been exaggerated due to the contrast between one of the best and worst teams in MLB.
7/25 Best Bets
Baltimore Orioles @ Boston Red Sox: Red Sox -1.5 (-108) & Over 10 (-118)
The Red Sox did not hesitate to blow the Orioles away on Opening Day, putting up 10 combined runs in the third and fourth innings, before tacking on a further three runs in the sixth to complete the rout of their division rivals. Now the Red Sox go up against Alex Cobb on Saturday, who has put up a 5.36 ERA through his first two seasons in Baltimore. The Red Sox had a lot of problems as a team last year, but facing right-handed pitchers was not one of them, as they put up the joint-best batting average (.274) and sixth-best slugging percentage (.470) in the league against righties in 2019. They were also strong at home last season, with the third-best batting average (.278) and fourth-best slugging percentage (.487) in the majors. They should have no problem getting after Cobb, who they took for 10 earned runs in two starts the last time he pitched in Boston back in 2018.
The Orioles were solid against left-handed pitching in 2019, but are without their best overall hitter of lefties in Trey Mancini. The Orioles should still be able to deal some damage Red Sox left-handed pitcher Martin Perez, with the likes of Hanser Alberto, Pedro Severino, Anthony Santander, and Renato Nunez all returning solid numbers against southpaws last season. Perez had a mixed 2019 season, starting the season strong before fading badly as the season progressed, with an ERA over five in each month from June through until the end of the season. He also had struggles against right-handed hitters, which should play into the hands of the Orioles that put up solid numbers against lefties in 2019. The Orioles lineup as a whole likely will not be able to do enough damage to make this game close but combined these teams should be able to hit the over, assuming the Red Sox do not do it on their own on what is expected to be a warm day in Boston.
Seattle Mariners @ Houston Astros: Astros -1.5 (-134)
The Astros flew out of the gate with an 8-2 demolition of the Mariners on Friday. Saturday sees them face Taijuan Walker, who has pitched a total of 14 innings through the last two MLB seasons. Walker is going to face an extremely tough task against an Astros team that ranked in the top-two in batting average (.284), slugging (.516), and ISO (.233) at home in 2019. Additionally, they crushed right-handed pitching, leading the league in batting average (.274) and slugging (.492), as well as ranking fourth in ISO (.218).
Lance McCullers will take to the mound for the Astros, coming off the back of a 3.86 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 128 1/3 innings in 2019. Seattle’s lineup was inconsistent on the road in 2019, struggling for batting average (.240), but taking full advantage power wise when they were given the opportunity, ranking in the top 10 in both slugging and ISO last season. Unfortunately for Seattle, McCullers is one of the least home run prone pitchers in the league, with a career average of 0.7 home runs per nine.
The Astros should have no problem winning this one going away against the team that will likely finish at the bottom of the AL West in 2020.
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Kansas City Royals @ Cleveland Indians: Indians -1.5 (-126)
This matchup could be a preview of one we see many times in the AL Central, as established ace Mike Clevinger takes on the Royals 2018 first-round selection Brady Singer. Singer was solid last year, progressing up to the Royals Double-A side, but it is then a big jump to the majors and a face-off with one of the best in the game in Clevinger. The Indians struggled massively in 2019, ranking in the middle of the pack against right-handed pitchers, and I do not expect they take Singer to pieces in this matchup. However, their lineup still contains a lot of good pieces that should be able to give Clevinger a nice cushion over the rookie.
Clevinger for his part is simply a stud, with a career 3.20 ERA and coming off a 2.71 ERA in 126 innings in 2019. His home splits last year were particularly impressive, as he posted a 1.78 ERA on his way to a 5-1 record in 10 starts. This Royals lineup contains a lot of similar pieces to 2019, and they managed just two earned runs in 18 1/3 innings against Clevinger last season. In 2019, when the Indians scored a minimum of three runs, Clevinger was 12-0 across 16 starts. That is a feat they should be able to achieve against Singer.
Look for Clevinger to keep the Royals scoring low and allow the Indians bats to win another potentially low scoring game.
Detroit Tigers @ Cincinnati Reds: Reds -1.5 (-109)
The Reds new-look lineup demonstrated how potent they could be in 2019 as they took the Tigers for seven runs on Opening Day. They were helped by some control issues for Matt Boyd in the first innings as he walked one and hit two batters to gift the Reds their first run with just one hit on the board. The Reds lineup was backed by a strong performance from Sonny Gray, and now they arguably have their most talented pitcher taking to the mound on Saturday.
Castillo’s 2019 season tailed off with a 4.78 ERA in the second half, but he posted an impressive 2.29 number in the first half of the year. However, given it was the first time he had gone over 170 innings in the major it is perhaps no surprise we saw some fatigue down the stretch. One of the keys to pitching success in Great American Ballpark, which is among the best parks in the league when it comes to allowing home runs, is keeping the ball on the floor, and Castillo was the second-best pitcher in the league when it came to GB% in 2019 (55.2%).
White Sox starter Ivan Nova also did a solid job at keeping the ball on the ground last season, ranking 25th among qualified starters. However, when he did allow flyballs he often suffered, with the 19th worst HR/FB rate of 15.8%. Given the way that the ball leaves the park in Cincinnati, that is a major concern against a lineup loaded with power hitters who like to put the ball in the air.
7/25 MLB Parlay
Each day I will look to do a parlay with four or five teams either on the Run Line or Moneyline as a small stake play.
- Phillies ML
- Reds ML
- Indians -1.5
- Red Sox -1.5
- Astros -1.5
Four of the five parts of the parlay are explained above. I am throwing the Phillies in as the fifth part as I cannot see them losing two days running at home to the Marlins. Miami starting pitcher Caleb Smith has a tendency to allow home runs, having allowed 1.9 HR/9 in 2019 and a career number of 1.7. He also has a 3.7 BB/9 average in his career. Bad walk and home run rates are usually not a good way to win games in parks that lean towards being home run friendly on a warm day with a slight wind blowing out from the plate.
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