MLB Opening Day Betting Bonanza: A Three-Pack of Picks

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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.

The first pitch of the opening game is at 1:05 pm ET, and the last game begins at 10:10 pm ET.

 

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.

The Pick:
Under 8 Runs

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.

The Pick:
Over 7 Runs

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.

Please Note:
Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman are likely to bounce back in 2021. And if they do, then the Astros will find themselves in the playoff mix this year. The issue for Houston in this matchup is that their bullpen will be without its two best arms in Josh James and Framber Valdez due to injuries, while newly-added Pedro Baez is sidelined.

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.

The best bet for this game is to back Oakland’s pitching staff to keep Houston in check long enough to secure the victory.
The Pick:
Oakland Athletics

*Odds courtesy of MyBookie

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Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.