A bunch of day games are on tap for tomorrow in Major League Baseball as a handful of teams open up the home portions of their seasons. It should be an interesting full day of baseball that should include some really good betting opportunities for the astute handicapper. Pitchers are getting a second turn through the rotation and those that aren’t are dealing some very long layoffs. That could be a wagering angle to profit from.
After a Sunday card that didn’t yield a whole lot of good possibilities, we’ll take a look at the Monday card and see what we can come up with that makes some sense from a handicapping perspective. There are sure to be some games that stand out to us.
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Pittsburgh at Detroit (-115); Total: 9
What was going to be a bad spot for Detroit is now a decent spot because they have a clear pitching matchup advantage and they aren’t coming off of the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game. The Tigers were slated to start at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday night, but Mother Nature had other ideas and so the Tigers should be ready and raring to go for Monday’s early first pitch.
Jon Niese has been a punching bag in interleague starts in his career with a .316/.372/.518 slash against when facing American League teams. The Tigers obviously have the right-handed bats necessary to do some major damage against a southpaw like Niese. It only makes sense to roll with the Tigers here in this spot, even if Justin Verlander isn’t the guy that he once was. Verlander is still a bit of a mystery to a Pirates team that doesn’t face him a whole lot.
San Diego at Philadelphia (-130); Total: 7.5
The Padres offense woke up a little bit on the road in Colorado, but oddsmakers aren’t expecting much for this Monday matinee at Citizens Bank Park. The Padres will send Andrew Cashner to the bump and the Phillies will counter with Aaron Nola. Cashner saw a good bump in his strikeout rate last season as he tried to deal with a terrible Padres defense. If that’s sustainable, the somewhat improved defense should allow Cashner to post an ERA in the 3.50 range. That, however, remains to be seen.
Aaron Nola is really fun and he’s a polished pitcher after working for a while at LSU before making the leap to pro ball. Nola should see some positive strikeout gains this season to go along with a lower home run rate thanks to improved command and more knowledge of hitters and their tendencies. The travel for San Diego is tough, especially early in the season, so the line is justifiable, but I’m not in a hurry to lay -130 on the Phillies against any team with a pulse.
Kansas City at Houston (-160); Total: 9
Big lines are the flavor of the day in Major League Baseball with a lot of Tums to swallow (the chalky taste, if you know what I mean) when betting on games. This line has seen a pretty significant overnight move on the home team. Chris Young battles it out with Collin McHugh, who was downright awful in his season debut against the Yankees. Perhaps the betting public decided that McHugh’s first start was taken into too much consideration by the oddsmakers. Or, it could be that Chris Young is not a good pitcher to have on the hill at Minute Maid Park. Whatever the case, I certainly wouldn’t want to try and make a supplemental income backing any team at -160 against Kansas City.
All my fears about the team could come to fruition this season. They are due for regression and there’s no doubt about that. However, they’re still a very good ballclub and catching them at +140 is a gift that we don’t often receive. I’m not saying I would do it, but they’re definitely the better value bet in this game.
Los Angeles (AL) at Oakland (-145); Total: 7
The Oakland Athletics have unquestionably moved into playable territory here for Monday night. Sonny Gray gets the pill against Nick Tropeano. The betting public has pushed this line down about 25 cents from open and that doesn’t seem right. The Angels continue to have a horrible offense and the Athletics have their ace on the mound, so they shouldn’t need to score a lot of runs. Concerns about the A’s offense are definitely merited, but it’s worth pointing out that lefties have done the majority of the shutting down against Oakland this season. Nick Tropeano does not throw with that hand.
The opening line probably was a little bit high, but if this game opened at this price, I’d advocate a play on the A’s. I’m not somebody to go over -140 all that often, but it’s a play worthy of a ticket here in this matchup.
One last note: those looking for a big upset pick on Monday are going to be hard-pressed to find it. David Price could struggle against a really deep Baltimore lineup in his Fenway Park debut, but Yovani Gallardo could also do the same thing against a quality Boston group. That’s really the only game that seems moderately attractive from an underdog standpoint.