MLB Opening Day best bets: Blue Jays to start fast in St. Louis
Baseball is back! Opening Day has finally arrived, and every team in the majors is set to take the field.
Let's waste no time in getting to our best bets.
A lot of arms aren't fully stretched out at this point in the year, which means I'm going to focus heavily on the first five innings as the season begins.
I think the Twins are in a really good spot here to get things going early. First and foremost, they have a significant pitching advantage with Pablo Lopez set to counter Zack Greinke.
Lopez is one of the more underrated arms in baseball. He consistently flirts with a strikeout per inning, doesn't give up much hard contact, and has good command over the plate.
The Royals have seven batters in their projected lineup with K rates above 20% - and only two that walk at an above-average clip - so that should feed right into Lopez' strengths.
He is also at his best pitching against righties, and the Royals' biggest offensive threats (Salvador Perez and Bobby Witt Jr.) hit from that side of the plate. I expect Lopez will be able to hit the ground running with his new team and keep the Royals' offense in check over the first half of the game.
On the flip side, I see the Twins' offense getting to Greinke. He does not miss many bats and just posted an xERA of nearly 5. Not to mention, his fly ball rate allowed was the highest it's been in more than a decade.
Led by Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa, this Twins lineup has real pop and is more than capable of plating runs against an aging and declining arm like Greinke.
I expect the Twins to win the first five outright but would recommend the moneyline rather than the -0.5 run line for insurance.
Bet: Twins F5 moneyline (-145)
The Toronto Blue Jays mash right-handed pitching. That's what they do. Although there were some notable trades made this past offseason, the core of the offense remains the same.
That means most of the batters responsible for the team's second-place ranking in wOBA, and third-place finish in slugging percentage, are still on the team.
While Miles Mikolas isn't an ideal opponent for a team reaching its ceiling in terms of generating hard contact, I still think the Blue Jays have a good chance of doing some damage against him.
For one, Mikolas doesn't strike out many batters. In George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Alejandro Kirk, among others, the Jays have a bunch of guys who don't strike out. There should be a lot of extended plate appearances, which could force Mikolas out of the game early.
Mikolas also fares noticeably better against lefties, which isn't ideal when facing Toronto. The majority of its lineup - including Bo Bichette, Springer, Guerrero, Kirk, etc. - hit from the right side.
The Blue Jays have one of the league's better offenses, and, with respect to Mikolas, he is not exactly an ace. I think this Jays team is going to plate a few runs in the early going, which should put them in prime position to win the first half with Alek Manoah on the bump.
Bet: Blue Jays F5 moneyline (-115)
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.