The season-opener between the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees should be a fun battle between a couple of World Series contenders. The second game of the night may be a little less dramatic, to say the least.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, who are right there with the Yankees as the heavy betting favorites to win the World Series this fall, will host the San Francisco Giants in the nightcap. The Giants aren’t in the same stratosphere as the Dodgers from a talent perspective, which is evident in the odds for this game. Los Angeles checks in as a massive -315 favorite at Dodger Stadium for Thursday’s opener.
Kershaw’s Ninth Opening Day
Clayton Kershaw will be making his ninth Opening Day start in 10 years for the Dodgers, while Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the new-look Giants. This will be Cueto’s first Opening Day start in a San Francisco uniform, but the fifth of his career. He made four straight starts on Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds from 2012 until 2015.
Kershaw may not be at the peak of his powers anymore, but he’s still an upper-level pitcher at this stage of his career. The 32-year-old went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 29 outings a season ago. His 26.8 percent strikeout rate was three percent higher than it was in 2018. While he may not be Gerrit Cole or Max Scherzer when it comes to Ks anymore, Kershaw’s ability to miss bats is still one of his strengths.
The lefty did allow a career-high 28 home runs a season ago, but he’ll be facing a Giants lineup largely devoid of power in this one. San Francisco will be without Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria tonight, which leaves Hunter Pence as really the lone home run threat. Mike Yastrzemski and Wilmer Flores are at least capable of lucking into a long ball, but it would be a major surprise to see this lineup inflict a whole lot of damage against Kershaw.
San Francisco’s projected lineup posted a collective .322 wOBA with a .201 ISO against left-handed pitching last season, but we can take those numbers with a grain of salt. The lineup includes Pablo Sandoval and Mauricio Dubon, neither of whom played close to a full season in 2019. The bottom of the lineup, featuring Brandon Crawford, Tyler Heineman, and Yolmer Sanchez, is particularly punchless.
Rough Night Ahead for Cueto
As for Cueto, he’ll have his work cut out for him tonight. He’s made just 13 total starts over the last two years combined, including four last season. He was basically an average pitcher prior to his recent injury issues, and at 34 it’s tough to know how he’ll look moving forward. One thing we do know is that his best days are almost certainly in the rearview mirror.
Cueto hasn’t posted an above-average strikeout rate in six years. These days, he typically relies on generating ground balls and soft contact. He profiles as a right-hander that will likely struggle against left-handed hitters, which isn’t the ideal skill set for a pitcher going up against the Dodgers. LA is stacked with capable lefty power bats, including Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, and Corey Seager.
The Dodgers’ projected lineup posted a .260 ISO with a .371 wOBA against right-handed pitching last season. Even the right-handed hitters, like Mookie Betts, Justin Turner, AJ Pollock, and Will Smith, profile as well-above-average bats against same-handed pitching. The lone “weak” spot in the lineup may be Enrique Hernandez, but he’s still potentially a better hitter than the vast majority of those swinging the bats on the San Francisco side.
Where’s The Betting Value?
In case you couldn’t tell, this has all the makings of a lopsided affair. There’s no point in betting on the Dodgers at -315 to win the game outright on the moneyline, but the runline is more attackable. Los Angeles looks like a great bet to win the game by at least a couple of runs, and a blowout is very much within the realm of possibility.
That said, I think the most betting value lies in taking a shot on the over. Dodger Stadium may not be the most hitter-friendly park in the league, but the Dodgers’ offense is plenty capable of topping that total all by themselves. I definitely don’t have much faith in the Giants helping us too much here, but the over on 8 runs looks really appealing at -115.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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