The wait is finally over for major professional sports in North America. Thursday is the first day of meaningful baseball since the World Series in October. That was on October 30, 2019 in Game 7 between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros. The Nationals were 6-2 winners in Houston behind a standout performance by Max Scherzer.
Knowing what we know now with the Astros’ cheating scandal, Major League Baseball must be feeling awfully fortunate that the Nationals won. They were spending the offseason fanning down the flames over the controversy. The Astros’ 2017 World Series has been under a microscope. It would have been even worse if the Astros won another World Series this past season.
If there is any team in the majors that likes to see no fans at games, it has to be the Astros who would have never heard the end of it on the road. Nobody will be there to chirp them, but expect to see a batter or two get dinged with a pitch from time to time. Because this is a shortened season, every game and pitch is more important than ever. Pitchers aren’t going to target Astros’ batters in important innings.
One of the story lines during the lockdown was whether Mookie Betts was ever going to suit up for the Dodgers. We know he will on Thursday, and Betts will be with the Dodgers in Los Angeles in the future as well. Betts signed a 12-year $365 million deal with the Dodgers. That will take Betts all the way up to 39 years old, so essentially the Dodgers made sure he’s going to be with them for the rest of his career.
The Dodgers have thrown money around for the greater part of the last decade on big priced players. It hasn’t equated to a World Series, yet. The Dodgers have 12 years with Betts in their control. If they don’t win at least a couple of championships, then I can’t say the investment was worth it. One in 12 years? Meh. Even that doesn’t measure up for me.
The Dodgers begin their 2020 campaign against their rivals, the San Francisco Giants. It could be a rocky season for the Giants, but all they need to do is get hot for a few months. We see good teams start cold all of the time at the start of seasons. The mentality for those clubs must be different.
They have to try to get their minds around that this isn’t the start of the season, rather mid-season and everyone is tied with the same record. The clubs that do that are going to be in the best shape. Head below for our free San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers pick for July 23, 2020 in MLB. For more MLB reading, check out our MLB power rankings going into the season.
San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers MLB Baseball Betting Odds:
San Francisco Giants vs. LA Dodgers Prediction:
It’s best to go a bit light with units early on this season. Just see how things play out over the first week or two before increasing bet sizes. Overall, I could see some pitchers struggling to give way to see high-scoring games.
It might take a minute before pitchers get into a groove. Exhibition games are nothing like the real thing, so try not to use that as a barometer for how things will go in the regular season. As far as Clayton Kershaw is concerned, he may not have to be perfect on Thursday against the Giants. The Giants’ hitters may do most of the world for him.
The Giants are going to struggle to score runs this season. I’m fairly confident they’ll have one of the worst offenses in the league. The fact that Buster Posey opted out of playing this season hurts even more. Along with no Posey in the lineup and behind the dish, the Giants lost out on re-signing Kevin Pillar.
Pillar signed a deal with the Boston Red Sox, so that’s one of their most potent bats from last year gone. Along with Pillar gone, the Giants will not have the services of Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt to open up the 2020 campaign. Longoria and Belt are both injured, so they hope to get them back at some point this season. They will not be in the lineup tonight, though.
For a bit of nostalgia, the Giants brought back fan favorites Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence. While neither are what they were in their prime, both should provide a lift in the locker room. And Pence had a resurgence with the Texas Rangers last season. He recorded a .297 average with a .358 OBP and 18 home runs. Pence can still provide something for the Giants’ offense, which is really lacking firepower at the moment.
Kershaw is coming off yet another fantastic regular season. That much is a given for Kershaw, who posted an ERA of 3.03 and 1.043 WHIP in 29 games. He still has plenty of juice left on his arm. Whether he will deliver in the postseason this year is up for debate, though. Fellow veteran, Johnny Cueto, will counter for the Giants. With Madison Bumgarner signing elsewhere, Cueto becomes the No. 1 guy for the Giants.
Cueto pitched just four games in 2019 before leaving with an elbow injury. The previous season, Cueto appeared in just nine games because of injuries. He notched a 3.23 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 2018, then exited 2019 with a 5.06 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in four outings. The former Cincinnati Reds’ ace was one of the hottest hurlers in the majors from 2011 to 2015. However, since then, he’s been an inconsistent pitcher that has had to deal with multiple injuries.
He needs run support from the offense, but it’s unlikely going to happen with the Giants’ lineup. A game against Kershaw out of the gate doesn’t bode well for their offense on Thursday. Expect the Giants to keep things close through the first-half of this contest, with the Dodgers pulling away late for a 6-3 or 5-2 victory at Dodger Stadium in Game 1 of the 2020 season.