MLB Top Picks for Opening Day: Remember The Name of Chicago’s Starter

Top-rated sportsbooks have released their MLB odds for Opening Day action.

Three games interest me: Pirates vs. Marlins, Blue Jays vs. Rays and Tigers vs. White Sox. For your best bets, I will recommend investing in Marlins ML, Rays ML and White Sox RL.

Picks Summary

  • Marlins ML at (-135)
  • Rays ML at (-135)
  • White Sox RL +1.5 (-110)

*All odds from Bet365 (check our Bet365 Review)

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Miami Marlins

Thursday, March 28, 2024 – 04:10 PM ET at loanDepot Park

Miami’s Starter

Jesus Luzardo starts for the Marlins today. Luzardo really came alive in 2022 when he dropped his ERA by over three points relative to what it was in 2021.

His improvement is largely a consequence of his ability to figure out how to enhance his command, especially of his fastball, which is by far his favorite pitch to throw.

While his ERA did decline a bit last year, he is still a good pitcher with his unique velo, his ability to change locations, his ability to whiff batters especially with his slider and changeup, and his strong command, which he shows in his low walk rate.

Luzardo is especially solid at home, where his ERA last year was 2.99.

Pirates vs. Lefties

The crucial detail about Luzardo is that he is a lefty. Last year, Pittsburgh ranked 27th in slugging against left-handed pitchers.

It will improve insubstantially, if at all, because it made insufficient changes to its roster. Having a mediocre guy like Andrew McCutchen fully healthy isn’t going to change much.

Rowdy Tellez could add some pop to the lineup, but he is a lefty who prefers to hit righties.

Mitch Keller’s Negative Trend

I dislike Pirates starter Mitch Keller because he tends to struggle in his first game of the season.

  • Last year, he was hit hard in Cincinnati.
  • Two years ago, he struggled in St. Louis.
  • Three years ago, the Cubs thrived against him.

MLB Pick: Marlins ML (-135) at Bet365

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Thursday, March 28, 2024 – 04:10 PM ET at Tropicana Field

Jose Berrios’ History

Jose Berrios starts for the Blue Jays today.

Berrios’ last start in Tampa Bay was a good one but only in a surface-level sense. His ERA in that game was good, but his FIP (like ERA but factors out fielding) was 4.97, which shows that he actually performed poorly.

He simply benefitted in that start from yielding a fortunately low BABIP (batting average of balls in play). While that start looks good on the surface, it therefore actually confirms what we already know about Berrios, which is that he is especially likely to perform poorly in Tampa Bay.

At this venue, he suffers a 6.66 ERA in five career starts.

Tampa Bay’s Starter

Zach Eflin is in a good spot today because he regularly thrives in his first start of the season. In the last three years, he’s allowed a combined total of two runs in his first start of the season. He even locked down the Braves.

Eflin’s outlook against Toronto is already good because he owns a strong track record against Toronto’s most dangerous weapon, Vlad Guerrero Jr., who is 1-for-7 against him.

MLB Pick: Rays ML (-135) at Bet365

Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox

Thursday, March 28, 2024 – 04:10 PM ET at Guaranteed Rate Field

Ridiculous Odds

The Houston As…no, it’s actually the Detroit Tigers who are being favored so heavily by oddsmakers.

Seeing the annual losers Detroit chalked like this should make one suspicious. Bettors tend to lay excessive emphasis on starting pitchers. Detroit does trot out Tarik Skubal, who is certainly a bigger name than his White Sox counterpart.

Let’s talk about Detroit’s lineup and Skubal in order.

Detroit’s Lineup

With Detroit favored so heavily, the only reasonable play on the Tigers would be the run-line option. But can one even reasonably expect the Tigers to score enough runs to win? The Tigers ranked 27th in runs per game last year, and the deck is stacked against them at the moment.

They like to rely on Spencer Torkelson, but he has a tendency to start slow. His March/April BA is .200 in his career. In Spring Training, his BA was .137. New acquisition Mark Canha is supposed to give the offense a boost, but he looks uncomfortable in his new uniform. In Spring Training, his BA was .196.

The new faces can’t be relied upon to improve Detroit’s offensive outlook.

Slow-Starting Tarik Skubal

I dislike Skubal because he is a slow-starter.

In his career, his ERA is by far its worst in March/April – it is 5.06, whereas it is .46 better in every other month.

Chicago’s Starter

Unlike Skubal, Chicago’s starter is ready to go.

Garrett Crochet excelled in Spring Training, earning praise from scouts who observed his dominance. Crochet achieved a 2.13 ERA, achieving a strong ratio of strikeouts to walks.

He throws heat with his fastball, has a breaking ball that gets a lot of praise and he commands these pitches well.

Chicago’s Bullpen

Chicago’s bullpen is worth mentioning here because it might invite concern from bettors who are concerned with last year’s stats.

While the Sox bullpen struggled last year, it has received a substantial overhaul.

  • Michael Kopech will prove a great addition to the bullpen where, in terms of FIP, he thrived in his last season in which he primarily served as a reliever.
  • John Brebbia and Tim Hill will be helpful especially if they regain their form from two years ago.
  • Bryan Shaw is back as a big clutch piece for the team.

This will be a better group of relievers, not one against which Detroit could be said to have an edge.

MLB Pick: White Sox RL +1.5 (-110) at Bet365

*The line and/or odds referenced in this article might have changed since the content was published. For the latest information on line movements, visit OddsTrader’s free betting odds tool.

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