Expert MLB best bets, picks and predictions today, 3/28: Zach Eflin gets it done

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Zach Eflin (24) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals in the third inning at Kauffman Stadium.
Photo of Caleb Wilfinger

Caleb Wilfinger


Show Bio

Deputy Editor for Pickswise with years of experience handicapping and giving out winning picks. Lover of all US sports and Southampton FC. For Caleb Wilfinger media enquiries, please email
Read more about Caleb Wilfinger

The long wait is over! After an eventful offseason that featured plenty of moves that shook up the sport, the MLB regular season is finally here. The Pickswise MLB team was profitable on the diamond once again last season, as we went 141-115-4 on our best bets during the 2023 campaign. With a fresh 162-game slate ahead of us, I’ve scoured through the odds board and targeted a best bet in the AL East on Thursday’s loaded slate.

But before we dive in, don’t forget to check out our MLB picks for today’s Opening Day games. You can also check out our 2024 MLB Betting Guide, which features win total futures, best bets on the MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year, division winner selections and World Series predictions from our team of experts. Let’s get into my best bet for Opening Day.

Tampa Bay Rays ML over Toronto Blue Jays (-130)

Odds available at BetMGM Sportsbook at time of publishing. 

It seems like a yearly occurrence at this point, but the market is low on the Tampa Bay Rays heading into a season once again. This is a team that has consistently exceeded expectations in the regular season year over year and they’re still doubted and not assessed properly each spring. Either way, that gives us good opportunities to bet on Tampa Bay while there’s still value to be had on the Rays, and that’s exactly what we’re getting here in their home opener against the Blue Jays.

Zach Eflin (16-8, 3.50 ERA, 1.02 WHIP in 2023) gets the ball for Tampa Bay, and he’s been a pitcher that I’m looking to back once again in 2024. The Rays ace posted terrific expected numbers last season, ranking inside the top 7% of all qualified pitchers in xERA (3.02), chase rate (34%), and xWOBA. What looks even better is his extremely low walk rate (3.4%), which put him among the top 1% in that metric in 2023 per Baseball Savant. Eflin has tossed 14 innings of 1-run ball to go along with 9 strikeouts in his last 2 starts against the Blue Jays, and I expect that success to continue in Thursday’s outing, especially at home.

On the other side, Jose Berrios will get the ball for Toronto to open the season. While he had a respectable year in 2023, his underlying numbers left much to be desired (4.51 xERA, .397 xWOBACON, .437 xSLG). Starting a season off against a Rays lineup that was quietly a borderline top 5 unit in the league last season certainly won’t be easy. There’s also the matter of the Blue Jays bullpen, which is missing Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson to start this season due to injuries. Given Eflin’s prowess, the home-field advantage and a clear bullpen edge for Tampa Bay, it’s hard not to side with the Rays in this matchup. Let’s back Tampa as short home favorites.

Read our full Toronto Blue Jays vs Tampa Bay Rays predictions

By signing up you agree to our terms and privacy policy