Eventful MLB Opening Day hints at betting bedlam to come

By Jeff Fogle  (VSiN.com) 

July 23, 2020 11:38 PM

Handicappers and bettors will have their work cut out for them if the long-delayed “Opening Day” of 2020 Major League Baseball is any indication. 

*Bettors found out early that Washington Nationals star Juan Soto had tested positive for the coronavirus. A reminder that positive covid tests could wreak havoc with projected lineups all season long. Soto will be out of action until he clears protocol. Those who bet the Nats early as a home underdog vs. the New York Yankees were stuck rooting for a shorthanded team. The Bronx Bombers would eventually win 4-1 in a rain-shortened five-inning game (because a dark cloud seems to be handing over all of 2020 to this point). 

*Bettors found out later that Clayton Kershaw had been scratched from his start for the Los Angeles Dodgers with a stiff back. Those of you handicapping the Korea Baseball Organization will remember that many key players suffered stiffness and minor muscle injuries in the rush to get game-ready after a delay in that league. Recreational bettors in particular should be wary of laying big money lines on expensive pitchers who may not approach “regular season” health and form for a few more weeks.  

*Bettors hoping to finalize futures or Regular Season Win total bets still had no idea where the Toronto Blue Jays would be playing home games. They knew it wouldn’t be in Toronto or Pittsburgh. Baltimore, Hartford and Buffalo are possibilities.

*On top of all that, bettors received confirmation during the afternoon that the postseason would be expanding from 10 teams to 16. More than half the sport would make the playoffs! That threw a monkey wrench into bets already made on league favorites, all of whom will now have to open with a best-of-three sprint to qualify for the round of eight. 

VSiN hosts and guests will talk more about the expanded playoffs throughout Friday’s broadcasts. They’ll also talk about today’s busy slate, which is still “Opening Day” for everyone but the Giants and Dodgers.

Friday’s MLB Odds

Atlanta (Soroka) plus 134 at NYM (deGrom) -144…total runs 7

Detroit (Boyd) plus 163 at Cincinnati (Gray) -178…total runs 8.5

Toronto (Ryu) plus 142 at Tampa Bay (Morton) -152…total runs 7

Miami (Alcantara) plus 179 at Philadelphia (Nola) -198…total runs 8.5

Kansas City (Duffy) plus 193 at Cleveland (Bieber) -223…total runs 8.5

Milwaukee (Woodruff) plus 115 at Chicago Cubs (Hendricks) -125…total runs 8.5

Baltimore (Milone) plus 190 at Boston (Eovaldi) -220…total runs 9.5

Colorado (Marquez) plus 108 at Texas (Lynn)-118…total runs 8.5

Minnesota (Berrios) -107 at CWS (Giolito) -103…total runs 8.5

Pittsburgh (Musgrove) plus 170 at St. Louis (Flaherty) -185…total runs 8

Arizona (Bumgarner) plus 118 at San Diego (Paddock) -128…total runs 8

Seattle (Gonzales) plus 260 at Houston (Verlander) -310…total runs 8.5

San Francisco (Samardzija) plus 215 at LA Dodgers (Stripling) -250 …total runs 9

LA Angels (Heaney) plus 131 at Oakland (Montas) -141…total runs 8.5

Only one visitor laying odds, and that’s Minnesota in a virtual pick-em at the Chicago White Sox. Even in empty stadiums, home field advantage is still getting market respect…particularly with top contenders throwing quality starters. 

KNOCKOUT ROUND SET IN THE “MLS IS BACK” TOURNAMENT

A wild final day in group play at the “MLS is Back” tournament. 

*Vancouver shocked Chicago 2-0 in the morning matchup. That launched the longshot Whitecaps into the knockouts on goal differential. Chicago had opened its slate with an upset of strong Seattle, but still couldn’t reach the brackets.

Vancouver’s second goal proved huge. It provided the difference to win third place in Group B (both Vancouver and Chicago earned three points, but Vancouver won goal differential -2 to -3). It also provided the difference among tied third-place teams to advance. Vancouver’s -2 was better than the New York Red Bulls -3 (out of Group A). 

*The Los Angeles Galaxy scored on a penalty kick in extra time to forge a 1-all tie with the Houston Dynamo. That knocked Houston out of the tournament when a win would have put them through. 

*Tourney-favorite LAFC could only manage a 2-2 tie with Portland as a one-goal favorite. That was its second tie of the event, only good enough for second place in Group F. Portland wins the group, earning an easy knockout draw vs. longshot Cincinnati.  

The full knockouts are now set. There will be two games apiece Saturday through Tuesday. Here are the matchups, including our estimated “market” Power Ratings on a goal supremacy scale. We’ll update those daily as betting action firms up the game odds. 

Upper Half

Philadelphia (2.0) vs. New England (2.1)…Saturday

Kansas City (2.0) vs. Vancouver (1.1)…Sunday

San Jose (1.9) vs. Salt Lake (1.7)…Monday

Columbus (2.2) vs. Minnesota (2.1)…Tuesday

Lower Half

Orlando (1.9) vs. Montreal (1.6)…Saturday

Seattle (2.3) vs. LAFC (2.8)…Monday

Toronto (2.3) vs. NYCFC (2.1)…Sunday

Portland (1.9) vs. Cincinnati (1.3)…Tuesday

LAFC gave itself a much tougher draw by blowing its second-half lead over Portland late Thursday night. Monday’s battle with Seattle will be a championship-caliber matchup. Otherwise, a lot of virtual pick-ems on tap the next few days. 

WNBA SEASON ALSO BEGINS SATURDAY

The league has been overshadowed by other major sports, and the lack of any high profile exhibition games. But, the WNBA will come out of the gate fast this weekend with regular season action. 

Here’s a look at composite global futures prices posted at oddschecker.com…

*Top Threats: Seattle 3/1, Los Angeles 4/1, Las Vegas 6/1, Washington 6/1, Connecticut 6/1, Phoenix 6/1.

*Long Shots: New York 13/1, Chicago 18/1, Minnesota 30/1, Indiana 50/1, Dallas 60/1, Atlanta 66/1.

If you haven’t bet the WNBA in the past, be aware that sharps (professional wagerers) love this sport because markets typically react slower to important developments. 

COVID FATALITIES RISING AGAIN, RECORDS SET IN TEXAS, FLORIDA, AND CALIFORNIA

Most of our coverage regarding the coronavirus in this special daily feature through July has involved confirmed case counts in areas of interest to sports fans and sports bettors. While those continue to be of serious concern, we should also alert you to the fact that fatality counts are rising again after a long decline. 

The U.S. reported more than 1,000 confirmed covid deaths per day Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday after six weeks without a single total that high. Seven-day sums have increased roughly 50% over the past three weeks. Thursday, Texas reported an all-time one-day high of 212 (up from the previous record of 202 the day before), Florida reported a record 173, and California a record 157. 

Other Stories of Interest

*Masks can protect from more severe coronavirus (LA Times)

*Covid concerns in Alberta as NHL hubs take hold (CMOH Alberta)

*Korea Baseball to allow 10% attendance starting Sunday (Yonhap News Agency)

*Pac-12 releases revised college football schedule (San Jose Mercury News)

*Big 12 presidents could wait two or more weeks before deciding on season (Hook-em.com)

*Las Vegas Sands, other gaming corporations in a world of hurt (MSN.com)

VSiN Clips/Tweets on Betting Restarts and Football

*Mike North tells Mitch Moss and Pauly Howard he likes the White Sox Under their win total (Follow the Money)

*Adam Stanco and Danny Burke look at the Milwaukee Bucks (A Numbers Game)

*Ron Flatter talks to Patrick Meagher and Michael Lombardi about his Aussie Rules Football picks (Lombardi Line)

*Matt Youmans tells JVT home field isn’t worth much in MLB right now (The Edge)

*Troy Machir talks with JVT about popular NBA futures plays (The Edge)

*Learn more about VSiN Market Podcast with Josh Appelbaum

*Ben Fawkes joins the VSiN team!

See you for our next report Saturday morning.

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