The long wait is finally over. MLB Opening Day 2020 is here.
This year's baseball season is unlike anything we've seen before. Instead of 162 regular-season games, we have a shortened 60-game schedule. As a result, each game takes on more meaning. Essentially, the playoff race begins on Day 1.
In terms of rule changes, one massive difference is the universal designated hitter. For the first time in history, National League teams will enjoy the luxury of a DH instead of having to let the pitcher hit. We'll also see extra-inning games start with a runner on second base in an attempt to cut down on marathon overtime games.
And of course, no fans will be allowed at games. This automatically decreases home-field advantage. Schedules are also designed based on geographical location. Each team will play 40 division games and then the AL East will play the NL East, AL Central will play NL Central and AL West will play NL West. With no fans in the stands and travel drastically diminished, this could provide an increased edge for road teams.
Without further ado, let's discuss where the action is going for the two Opening Day games for tonight.
For an updated breakdown of Yankees-Nationals and Giants-Dodgers betting action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at Noon ET.
[Eds. note: This was published before news that Juan Soto tested positive for COVID-19 and is out of tonight's game.]
7:08 p.m. ET: New York Yankees at Washington Nationals
The top dog in the American League against the defending World Series champions. We couldn't have asked for a better Opening Day matchup. New York sends newly acquired Gerrit Cole (20-5, 2.50 ERA in 2019) to the mound to make his pinstripes debut. Washington counters with veteran ace Max Scherzer (11-7, 2.92 ERA). These two studs faced off in Game 1 of the World Series in 2019. Scherzer (5 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 7 strikeouts) outdueled Cole (7 innings, 8 hits, 5 runs, 6 strikeouts) as the Nats defeated the Astros 5-4.
The Yankees opened as -130 road favorites with the Nats a + 120 home dog. The public is all over New York with roughly two-thirds of bets laying the short moneyline price on the Bronx Bombers. This heavy betting pushed the line up to Yankees -140, Nats + 130. That's when value minded wiseguys got down on Washington at an inflated payout. The line has since come back down to the opener. Essentially, we are looking at a sharp line freeze on the Nats. Washington has value as a contrarian home dog in a heavily bet, primetime game.
The total is 7.5. Some books are showing some liability on the under (-115 juice), which makes sense with two studs toeing the rubber. The forecast calls for low 80s, high humidity and possibly some rain and thunderstorms. The wind could also be a factor. It's expected to blow out to right-center and 5-10 MPH.
10:08 p.m. ET: San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers
While the early game is a heavyweight bout between two of baseball's elites, this National League opener is the epitome of a lopsided affair. The Giants went 77-85 last season, finishing 29-games behind the 106-56 Dodgers in the division. Johnny Cueto gets the start for San Francisco. Cueto missed most of last season after recovering from Tommy John surgery. Cueto went 1-2 in four starts with a 5.06 ERA in 2019. The Dodgers counter with ace Clayton Kershaw (16-5, 3.03 ERA), who will make his 9th Opening Day start for the Dodgers.
This line opened with the Dodgers listed as massive -285 favorites and the Giants a big + 245 dog. Roughly three-out-of-four bets are laying the wood with Los Angeles, which has pushed the Dodgers up to -300 or even -310 at some books. It appears to be a combination of both sharp and public betting on Los Angeles. While it's difficult to back the Giants in this one, San Francisco does have value as a super contrarian road divisional dog with an inflated price (+ 245 to + 270). If you're worried about laying the big number with the Dodgers, you could take them on the spread, also known as the run-line, at -1.5 (-150).
The total opened at 8. Roughly two-thirds of bets are taking the over, yet the line has remained frozen. Some books are even juicing up the under 8 to -115 or -120, signaling under liability. It will be a perfect night for baseball at Chavez Ravine, with temperatures in the low 70s and a slight 4 MPH breeze to center.