Opening day started out with a bang as the first pitch of the season was sent into the stands by the Cubs Ian Happ. It was an exciting way to start the baseball season!
We picked up our first win of the season, one our first bet of the season, when we backed the New York Mets against the St. Louis Cardinals. Noah Syndergaard looked healthy and was throwing nasty stuff all afternoon long. I noted in my pick that if Thor is healthy that he is a top five starter in the National League and should be valued as such.
We got to back Syndergaard at just -133, but after this performance, we might see a lot steeper price on him his next time out. Syndergaard struck out ten in six innings of work and picked up the win for his efforts.
I like what both of these teams did in the offseason and expect them both to compete for the playoffs this season. I especially love where the Mets are at. They got healthy and brought in just enough talent to round out the roster.
You can expect me to take a hard look at the Mets a lot early in the season as many times the public takes a while to adjust to just how good a team is, especially when they were terrible last year. They are slow to adjust, and we won’t be.
Today I will stay in the National League as I break down the matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants are in Los Angeles Friday night for game two of a four-game series with the Dodgers. The Giants took game one last night 1-0, powered by a solid start from Ty Blach and four shutout innings from the bullpen. The lone run was supplied by Joe Planik, who hit a solo shot homer in the fifth inning off of Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
Today the Giants will start Johnny Cueto (0-0 0.00 ERA), and the Dodgers will start Alex Wood (0-0 0.00 ERA). The Dodgers are -164 favorites. The game total over-under is set at 7.5 runs. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM PST from Dodger’s Stadium.
I love what the Giants did in the offseason. They brought in a couple of very established veteran guys to bolster their lineup. They brought in former All-Stars Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria. Both guys might be just past their primes at this point but are still very productive.
It shows that the Giants want to win now. You don’t bring in multiple, expensive, and aging veterans, if you don’t want to win this year. Some analysts will tell you these were bad long-term moves, but if they win a ring this year in San Francisco, I am not sure anyone will care.
The Los Angeles Dodgers spent most of the first half of the season on a record-setting win pace. There was talk of this being the best team ever, and deep into the season, they had a shot at the 2001 Seattle Mariners all-time win record of 116 games.
Well, they cooled off considerably in the second half as they battled injuries and some of their rookie phenoms started to hit the rookie wall. But when it was all said and done the Dodgers ended up winning 104 games and getting all the way to the World Series.
The Dodgers mostly stood pat during the offseason as they liked their roster a lot and didn’t see the need to make big changes. They did bring back former fan favorite Matt Kemp, but the aging slugger is nowhere near the player they saw leave after the 2014 season.
The Dodgers were -300 favorites in yesterday’s game. That was an absurd number and shame on any of you that laid that type of wood on a game. The Giants came away with a win and spoiled opening day in L.A. But today the Dodgers will seek revenge as they once again have the best of the starting pitching matchup.
The Dodgers will trot out Alex Wood to the mound. Wood had the quietest 16-3 season ever last year. When you are sandwiched in the rotation by Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish, it can be hard to shine. Wood had a breakout year in 2017.
He produced a sub 3.00 ERA while getting named to his first All-Star team and finished in the top ten in the Cy Young voting in the National League. Wood doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he does more than enough to give this potent lineup a chance to win every time he pitches.
For the Giants, they will counter with Johnny Cueto. Cueto had a down year last season. He won just eight games and had the highest ERA of his career at 4.54. His WHIP was also the highest he has ever had at 1.44.
Cueto spent all season trying to strike guys out rather than pitching to contact. The right hander enjoyed the highest strikeout rate of his career, but came nowhere near his former All-Star level of performance.
At age 32 you have to wonder how much Cueto has left in the tank. Usually, when starting pitchers lose their touch, it goes away fast, and last season Cueto was barely above replacement level when it comes to wins above replacement (WAR).
Both of these lineups are much better than they showed last night. One run combined between the two of them isn’t going to happen again here tonight. We are clearly getting the better side of the starting pitching matchup by backing Wood.
And to me, the lineup is close to even. I would lean a little towards the Dodgers when it comes to the bats but dropping Longoria and McCutchen into the heart of this Giants lineup should pay big dividends this season.
This early in the season I am always going to lean on the starting pitching matchup more than later in the year. We just don’t quite know how all of the hitters are going to produce, and starting pitching is generally a more consistent benchmark to go off of.
So, I am going to back the Dodgers tonight. I think they are the better all-around team, and they have the better starter on the mound tonight. Give me the Los Angeles Dodgers -164 tonight at home!