Opening Day bets

The Top 2 Opening Day Bets You Need To Place

Opening Day is here, and with sports betting being legalized in many states recently, many people will be looking forward to placing their Opening Day bets. Here are two plus-money wagers to consider as America’s pastime kicks off Thursday.

Two Opening Day Bets You MUST Place For Thursday:

1. Run Scored in First Inning – Giants-Yankees (+118)

Plus money for our first of two Opening Day bets. The New York Yankees are coming off a 99-win season headlined by AL MVP Aaron Judge and his 62 home runs last year, while the San Francisco Giants are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2022 campaign after their outstanding 107-win 2021. I expect fireworks in the first inning of this one as both teams look to start the new year right.

New York led the majors in runs scored in the first inning last year and also led the bigs by scoring a first-inning run 35% of the time just by themselves. On the other hand, the Giants were the best in the majors at preventing first-inning runs and one of the worst at scoring them, which is probably why this is the best value of the Opening Day bets.

Logan Webb, the San Francisco ace, takes the mound for the Giants on Thursday. He was sensational in 2022, posting a 2.90 ERA, but that number jumped to 3.38 when only considering the first inning of his starts. Also, FIP, which aims to measure what a pitcher can control, pegs him at a 3.71 in the first inning, almost a full one run up from his ERA. And as I mentioned earlier, with a top four of DJ LeMahieu-Judge-Anthony RizzoGiancarlo Stanton, they are well positioned to take advantage of any mistake Webb happens to make.

And if you weren’t sold already, the Yankees are solid favorites to win this game. In every Opening Day win they’ve had since 2011, New York has homered in the first inning.

On the other side, Gerrit Cole toes the bump at home for New York against an iffy at best top of the San Francisco lineup. However, Michael Conforto and Joc Pederson will likely be hitting against Cole in the first inning, and they’ve experienced success against the Yankees ace, with Conforto hitting .286 with a homer and a 1.089 OPS on seven ABs, and Pederson hitting .444 with two extra-base hits and a 1.212 OPS over nine ABs.

The main struggle with Cole last year was his issues in the first inning, starting on Opening Day where he gave up three to the Red Sox, and most notably in June where he gave up three straight solo shots to the Twins to start the bottom of the first. In 2022, Cole’s ERA jumped from his normal figure of 3.50 to 4.91 in the first inning, giving up an outstanding 10 home runs.

Given the familiarity the Giants have with Cole, they’ll be looking to jump on his weakness early and put New York in a hole before they get to bat. Cole’s first-inning struggles combined with the Yankees’ tendency to jump on opposing starters in the first frame makes this one of the Opening Day bets you have to put down.

2. Cardinals ML vs Blue Jays (+102)

As for the second of our Opening Day bets, The St. Louis Cardinals look to start the 2023 season off on a high note against the Toronto Blue Jays. Alek Manoah will take the ball for Toronto, while Miles Mikolas counters for the Cards. The Blue Jays are likely favored because of Manoah, who had a superb 2022 season with a 2.24 ERA and 3.35 FIP. The underlying numbers for Manoah were not nearly as good, with a 3.31 xERA and 3.97 xFIP. While those are still good numbers, they’re much more on par with Mikolas’s 2022 splits.

And looking at the lineups, there’s certainly a mismatch here. First, the Cardinals are much fresher than the Blue Jays. Thirteen players on the Cards’ 40-man roster took part in the World Baseball Classic, compared to only three from the Jays. Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Lars Nootbaar, and Tyler O’Neill will all be ready to jump on Manoah after taking part in the WBC. Mikolas was also excellent in spring training, not allowing a run over 12 innings.

The Cardinals are simply the fresher team here, and that combined with them being at home makes this a valuable play at plus money. In terms of Opening Day history, the Cardinals are known for coming out hot, as they’ve won their last three Opening Days and five of their last seven. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have the worst recent Opening Day record out of any big league team, as before last year’s 10-8 win over the Rangers they had lost 10 straight Opening Day games. And, do you really want to bet against a 3-4-5 of Goldschmidt, Arenado, and Willson Contreras? Lock in the Cardinals at valuable plus-money odds here. 

Those are my two favorite Opening Day bets, and I’ll be tracking my progress on these as the season continues. Let’s hope for fireworks in New York and a red storm in St. Louis!

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