The Major League Baseball season opens up on Thursday, April 1st, for 2021 Opening Day. The league has gone back to the old-school format of all 30 teams opening their season on the same day, meaning that Thursday will feature a 15-game slate.
This means that we’ll get roughly 12 hours of baseball. With that in mind, here is a three-pack of picks that deserves strong consideration both individually and as a small parlay.
2:10 pm ET – Minnesota Twins at Milwaukee Brewers (-110) O/U: 8
One of the more intriguing matchups on Opening Day is an interleague matchup between these 2020 playoff teams. The Twins are expected to battle the White Sox all season long for the American League Central crown. The Brewers are expected to be the biggest competitor of the Cardinals for the National League Central crown.
The way to dissect this game from a betting standpoint is to target the over/under total of eight runs, with two dark-horse Cy Young contenders in Kenta Maeda and Corbin Burnes on the mound with fully-rested bullpens on the back end to close out the game. Milwaukee has hard-throwing right-hander Devin Williams and wipeout lefty Josh Hader likely to pitch following Burnes, which should keep the game low-scoring.
The Twins led the league in home runs last season, but their biggest power hitter Nelson Cruz will be out of the lineup on Opening Day. Both teams are phenomenal defensively and should be able to limit the scoring for all nine innings. Take the under of eight runs in what should be a pitcher’s duel from start to finish.
3:05 pm ET – Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies (-110) O/U: 7
The reigning National League East champion Atlanta Braves open the 2021 season against the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park on Thursday afternoon. The Braves were a few innings short of a National League pennant last postseason. The Phillies were far from playoff contention last season, but they have aspirations for a much better 2021 season.
The Atlanta starting rotation had a 5.51 ERA last season, which ranked 28th in the MLB. Philadelphia had a team ERA of 5.14 last season, which ranked 27th in the MLB. The Braves found their success last season at the plate, with three MVP candidates in Marcell Ozuna, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Freddie Freeman providing plenty of offensive fireworks.
The Phillies also boast a deep lineup with star right fielder Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, and Alec Bohm. Both teams are incredibly familiar with the opposing starting pitchers on the other side, and that should come to fruition in the way of multiple runs crossing the plate on Thursday afternoon. Take the over of seven runs in a game that features two deep lineups.
10:07 pm ET – Houston Astros (-115) at Oakland Athletics O/U: 8.5
The two favorites in the American League West battle each other on Thursday night to start their seasons. It is a battle of two aces on the mound. Oakland will be throwing Chris Bassitt, who put together a great season in 2020 with a 2.29 ERA, while Houston has Zack Greinke toeing the rubber. Grienke did not have his typical season last year. But he is one of the most professional pitchers in the entire league, and it is safe to assume he will return to form.
Oakland had one of the best bullpens in baseball last season, and it led them to the AL West crown last season. But their top reliever Liam Hendriks left for the White Sox in the offseason. The Athletics added Sergio Romo and Trevor Rosenthal to fill the void, and it should play a factor on Opening Day. The biggest loss for the A’s is the loss of All-Star shortstop Marcus Semien, as they were forced to replace him with Elvis Andrus.
*Odds courtesy of MyBookie