Whether the weather wants to cooperate on Opening Day or not across the country, baseball begins Thursday afternoon. If it feels like MLB is starting early this season, it isn’t just because you’re imagining things. Instead of having an opening night on Sunday, and then a full card the following day, every team is going to be on the diamond Thursday. People will be celebrating Easter on Sunday and Monday, so I imagine MLB wanted to get the opening slate of games out of the way now.
Depending where you are, it hasn’t been baseball weather outside. If you have the privilege of living in a sunny state, then you have no idea what I’m talking about. For the rest of us, it’s been rather chilly and miserable for baseball. It is still March, after all. Yes, it is March, so don’t get crazy and lose your bankroll with poor money management. It happens at the start of every season. People go nuts and unload their bankroll right away. Baseball, more than any other major sport in North America, is a marathon from spring to fall. The moral of the story is to just pick your spots and avoid getting into a hole.
We’re heading out west to open the season, where the Cleveland Indians will look to get back to the World Series after a failure in the postseason a year ago. The Indians may have broken a regular season record for most wins in a row, but it failed to translate to what their ultimate goal was, a World Series.
The Tribe were bounced by the Yankees after blowing a 2-0 series lead. The Yankees got better this season, they’re going to be a tough out, but the Indians didn’t make any waves. Nonetheless, their core is largely intact and they’re going to be contenders in the American League again, or at least they should be. Corey Kluber will get the nod against Felix Hernandez in Seattle tonight. Head below for our free Indians vs. Mariners pick to open the MLB season.
Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners Pick
Corey Kluber (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Felix Hernandez (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
The Mariners found a stroke at the plate last season, but then the pitching had to take a serious hit in the injury department. If it weren’t for the pitching going through the wringer, the Mariners were going to be a playoff team. Iwakuma was out of commission early in the year, and then there was Felix who had to sit down. The final dagger was an injury to James Paxton, who entered ace territory in 2017. Paxton has the opportunity to become a household name in 2018. Hernandez had the worst season of his career in 2017, posting a 5.02 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. His previous worst was the year before, where he boasted a 4.63 ERA. The Mariners are confident he’s going to have a bounce back year, though. Felix has had 16 appearances against the Indians in his career and they’ve managed to hit him for .239.
Hernandez had the worst year of his career, while on the other side, Kluber won a Cy Young. He concluded the regular season with a 2.25 ERA and 0.87 WHIP. The Indians 22 game win streak was due in part to his dominance on the hump. Opposing teams were hitting just .193 off him in 2017. He looked on point this spring training as well, as he finished with an ERA of 2.29 and 0.81 WHIP, pretty well even with his numbers from the entire 2017 season.
He unfortunately blew up in the ALDS and was of no help for his team in the postseason. The Indians’ bullpen was a force in 2017, and should be again this season, but they did lose Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith in the offseason. There are plenty of capable arms in the bullpen still, though, so they’ll be fine . They’re going to have an elite unit that ranks in the top-5 again. Felix Hernandez isn’t who he used to be, however, I expect him to come out tonight looking to prove something in the opener. He must feel some pride getting the opening nod, rather than Paxton. I’m going to dabble on the UNDER in this matchup which should be a 4-2 or 4-3 ball game.