There is something magical about opening day for baseball. For over one hundred years the start of baseball season has signaled the end of winter and start of spring in America.
Every team, no matter how good or bad they will be this season, is undefeated and hopeful about the season that lay ahead.
Every year we see some team we thought would be great finish in last and see another team that nobody expected anything out of, rise up as a contender. Today, everyone is a baseball fan.
Early season baseball betting is a balancing act. It is trying to figure out which teams made the best moves in the offseason to bolster their squad. Did they add to the bullpen? The rotation? Is their lineup balanced? Are they healthy?
The first month or so of baseball it is very hard to know who is who. We have some teams that are almost certain to be good this year, the Dodgers, Astros, and Yankees amongst them, but we don’t know just how good they will be until we see them on the diamond.
For this season’s first MLB betting pick I am sticking with a team that made some big moves in the offseason as well as returned a very good roster from the last season, the Boston Red Sox, as they take on the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Boston Red Sox travel to Tampa Bay for opening day to face the Rays. This is game one of a four-game series. Boston comes into the season with dreams of winning another World Series.
They brought in slugger J.D. Martinez to strengthen an already formidable lineup and are one of the favorites to win the American League Pennant this year.
For Tampa, the story is not a good one. They traded away or failed to sign many of their best players and are almost certain to finish last in the American League East this year.
The Red Sox send their ace Chris Sale (0-0 0.00 ERA) to the mound today to face the Rays Chris Archer (0-0 0.00 ERA). The Red Sox are -166 money line favorites. The game total over-under is set at 7 runs. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 PM PST from Tropicana Field.
The Boston Red Sox should be really good this year. They already had a great mix of young up and coming talent, like Xander Bogarts, Jackie Bradley Jr, and Mookie Betts. Combined with some great veteran leaders like Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez, this was always going to be a tough lineup.
But then they added slugger J.D. Martinez to the mix, and that might be the move that puts Boston over the top this year in a very good American League East Division.
Martinez has been one of the most consistent power hitters in the game over the last four years. Last year was a true breakout season for Martinez as he hit 45 homers and drove in 104 runs between stops in Detroit and Arizona.
When he got traded to Arizona last season at the deadline, the move sparked a huge run by the Diamondbacks that propelled them into the playoffs. Adding that level of bat to this already murderer’s row of a lineup is going to make it tough to stop the Sox this year.
For Tampa Bay, they have essentially thrown in the towel on the year, and it’s not even April yet. They traded away the face of their franchise, Evan Longoria, in the offseason for a box of rocks and spare parts and are clearly not focused on winning this year. They lost Alex Cobb in free agency as well as Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda. Their big offseason move was bringing in Carlos Gomez on a four-million-dollar deal.
My guess is the Rays saw what the Yankees and Red Sox were doing in their division and decided that they weren’t going to compete anyway, so they shut up shop for the year and started building for the future.
And, to be fair to the Rays, that is probably true. The Yankees look absolutely stacked this year as does Boston, and I’m not sure the Rays could have really done anything to compete. But it must hurt to be a Rays fan and see your team do so little during the offseason.
What is left for Tampa is a team that could lose a hundred games this year. Not because they are really that bad, but because their division is just that good.
I was shocked when I saw that Chris Sale was only -166 in this game. John Lester is -220 for Chicago, Justin Verlander is -172 for Houston, Kluber is -175 for Cleveland, heck, Kershaw is laying -300 for the Dodgers.
At -166 Sale seems like quite the bargain. I get to back an ace pitcher, that is always lights out in the season’s first half, against a Ray’s team that is trotting out a Triple-A level lineup? I am going to take that any day.
This game won’t be close. Sale will mow through this weak Rays team, and I expect the Sox to get to Archer at some point. Archer is a solid starter, he is no Chris Sale. I could see Sale easily racking up double-digit strikeouts enroot to a Red Sox win.
Give me the Boston Red Sox -166 today for my first MLB pick of the year!