Expert MLB best bets, picks and predictions today, 3/30: Back the Braves on Opening Day
Welcome to Opening Day! But this is not a normal Opening Day, as all 30 teams are playing on the first day of the season for the first time since 1968. Before we get into the games, let me introduce myself. My name is Keith, and I finished up +62.6 units in the regular season last year with my Pickswise picks. For this year, I will be posting my Pickswise picks as normal, but I will also be providing my best bets in an article like this several times a week.
It’s a loaded slate of 15 games today, and with it being the first game of the season for each team, the pitching matchups are top tier. Here are my best bets for Opening Day, but be sure to also check out our MLB picks and our MLB betting guide, which has links to all of our comprehensive baseball season preview package.
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Atlanta Braves -1.5 (-135) over Washington Nationals
Available at DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing
Would it really be Opening Day if we didn’t get to fade Patrick Corbin? The lefty was one of the worst pitchers in baseball last season, and while I don’t want to rely on historical data too much, his Spring Training starts did not give me any confidence that Corbin has improved. He allowed 10 runs and 21 hits in 18 innings, and he was throwing way too many strikes. That may sound weird, but as a starting pitcher you want to mix it up and not throw just strikes during the at-bat. Of the 128 pitches he threw in Spring Training, 109 were strikes, and that resulted in opponents having a .288 batting average. The southpaw will face a Braves lineup that is all too familiar with him, as Ronald Acuna Jr., Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, Eddie Rosario and Orlando Arcia are a combined 44-for-117 (.376) in their careers against Corbin.
It only gets worse for Washington since Max Fried will toe the rubber for Atlanta. Fried was outstanding last season and he continued his success in Spring Training. He threw 14.1 innings without allowing an earned run and surrendered only 6 hits while striking out 19 in his Spring Training starts. His success originates from his ability to command the zone and not get barreled, as he finished in the 94th percentile in walks and 90th percentile in hard-hit rate in 2022. Atlanta should dominate the young Washington team that lacks experience and quality bullpen arms, but above all, it’s Corbin pitching.
Check out our +701 MLB mega parlay for Opening Day
Minnesota Twins ML (-141) over Kansas City Royals
Available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing
Opening Day features some of the best pitchers in baseball, but this is one of the most lopsided pitching matchups of the day. Pablo Lopez will make his Minnesota debut against Zack Greinke, who will be starting his second straight Opening Day for the Royals. Lopez made only 3 starts in Spring Training because he was part of Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. He made 1 start against a stacked Puerto Rico team and allowed 1 run and 2 hits while striking out 6 batters in 4.2 innings.
Meanwhile, Greinke was showing his age in Spring Training. The 39-year-old had a 7.02 ERA in 5 starts, which included 18 hits in 16.2 innings, so it’s good to see that Greinke is still as hittable as ever. And being hittable will be a bigger disadvantage than usual this season. Greinke had a 12.5% strikeout rate last season, which was the lowest rate among qualified starters, and he ranked in the 2nd percentile for whiff rate, so hitters were rarely missing when they swung. Without the shift, those balls put in play are more likely to find a hole. And considering the Minnesota lineup, putting the ball in play seems more than feasible. The Twins have several players who will benefit from the shift ban, but nobody more than Joey Gallo. The rest of their lineup includes Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, Jose Miranda and Christian Vasquez, to name a few, and they should be able to get to Greinke early and often.
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Los Angeles Angels -1.5 (-118) over Oakland Athletics
Available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing
Remember how I said the Pablo Lopez against Zack Greinke matchup was one of the most lopsided today? Well, this matchup takes the cake. Shohei Ohtani is widely considered the best player in baseball, and he will be facing Kyle Muller, who was a piece in the Sean Murphy trade. Muller wore out his welcome in Atlanta after several disappointing seasons. Muller made 11 starts in 2 years for the Braves and accumulated a 5.14 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 49 innings. But Muller is still young, and Oakland is a developing team, so they decided to take him in with hopes to fix him. However, they must have forgotten that they’re the Athletics and not the Rays because Muller only got worse in Spring Training. The lefty allowed 18 runs and 30 hits in 18 innings while also surrendering 3 home runs and 4 walks. He finished Spring Training with a .370 opponent batting average, and now he will travel to Oakland to face a new-and-improved Angels lineup.
It looks like the Angels will have Ohtani, Taylor Ward, Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Gio Urshela, Hunter Renfroe, Luis Rengifo and Brandon Drury as their 1-8 hitters on Opening Day, and that’s a solid lineup. A healthy Los Angeles lineup is a dangerous one, and it helps to have Ohtani on the mound. The Japanese star won the World Baseball Classic with Japan, and pitched 9.2 innings during the tournament and surrendered just 2 runs and 5 hits with 11 strikeouts. This Opening Day nod will be his 7th start in Oakland, and so far, he has a 3.72 ERA paired with a .174 opponent batting average in the Oakland Coliseum. Los Angeles has the advantage in every aspect of this game which should result in a big win on Opening Day.
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