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After a long winter, MLB Opening Day 2023 is here and I can finally have way too much at stake on a random Tuesday in the middle of the summer.
Hand up: 2022 in the MLB was my 1st losing season since I began betting baseball in 2016. I rattled off 11 straight MLB wins when I first joined OutKick in August and did well in the postseason. But, still, 2022 didn’t go my way.
MLB 2023 Futures and Opening Day Bets featuring David Troy
If you think this has my confidence shaken, you’re crazy. I stayed away from betting “sucker parlays” last year because I didn’t want my sharp card pulled. Expect my knucklehead parlays to be on OutKick.com eventually.
Two of my three MLB Opening Day looks are in the 4 p.m. ET window (Philadelphia Phillies at Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds) and the other is a nightcap (Cleveland Guardians at Seattle Mariners).
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Texas Rangers
- Moneyline (ML): Phillies (+115), RANGERS (-135)
- Run Line (RL): Phillies +1.5 (-205), Rangers -1.5 (+175)
- Total — 6.5 — Over: -115, Under: -105
- First pitch: 4:05 p.m. ET
- Venue: Globe Life Field
Phillies RHP Aaron Nola vs. Rangers RHP Jacob deGrom
This isn’t a newsflash but deGrom is really good when he plays. deGrom is 16-4 straight up (SU) all-time vs. the Phillies while pitching for the Mets with an average score of 4.8-2.9.
Since 2020, Nola is 3-10 SU as a a short-road underdog (+140 or less) with a -53% return on investment (ROI). deGrom is 2-1 SU vs. Nola in their careers and does better vs. Philly’s lineup than Nola vs. the Rangers.
Per Statcast, deGrom’s K-rate is 17.8% higher vs. active Phillies than Nola against active Rangers (37.8-20.0%). Those Phillies have a .194 expected batting average (xBA) vs. deGrom and the Rangers have a .284 xBA vs. Nola.
Philly’s lineup will be easier to navigate with superstar Bryce Harper and All-Star 1B Rhys Hoskins both on the IL. The Rangers were 4-0 SU vs. the Phillies in 2022 and Philly only scored seven runs in those four games.
Finally, the Phillies added significant arms to their bullpen this year and the Rangers didn’t. But, the gap between deGrom and Nola is bigger than the one between Philadelphia’s re-tooled bullpen and Texas.
MLB Best Bet #1: Rangers (-135) ML at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -150
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds
- ML: Phillies (+120), REDS (-140)
- RL: Phillies +1.5 (-175), Reds -1.5 (+150)
- Total — 8 — Over: -110, Under: -110
- First pitch: 4:10 p.m. ET
- Venue: Great American Ball Park
Pirates RHP Mitch Keller vs. Reds RHP Hunter Greene
Greene has one of the livest arms in MLB and Keller is perhaps the worst Opening Day starter for any ball club. Keller is typically a slow starter: 1-6 SU in March-April with a 7.43 ERA and 1.83 WHIP.
Last season, Greene turned it on down the stretch. From August 1st on, Greene had a 0.62 ERA and a 45/7 K/BB rate over 29 innings pitched. My 2023 projections have Greene as a fringe NL All-Star pitcher.
Furthermore, Greene’s K-rate vs. active Pittsburgh hitters is more than double Keller’s against current Cincy batters (35.1-14.8%), according to Statcast.
It’s a small sample size because the Reds were rarely favorites last year but Greene was 2-0 SU as a favorite in 2022.
MLB Best Bet #2: Reds (-140) ML at DraftKings, up to -145
Cleveland Guardians vs. Seattle Mariners
- ML: GUARDIANS (+100), Mariners (-120)
- RL: Guardians -1.5 (+190), Mariners +1.5 (-225)
- Total — 6.5 — Over: -115, Under: -105
- First pitch: 10:10 p.m. ET
- Venue: T-Mobile Park
Guardians RHP Shane Bieber vs. Mariners RHP Luis Castillo
The Guardians are my pick to win the 2023 World Series partially because of how good 2020 AL Cy Young, Bieber, looked down the stretch last season.
In fact, Cleveland’s pitching staff has a top-three potential with a top-10 floor. The Guardians’ relief pitching is elite and closer Emmanuel Clase is a Cy Young “sleeper” candidate.
The rule changes will help the Guardians the most. They had the highest contact rate in 2022 and are a great base-running team. With the limited pick-off attempts and banning of the shift, Cleveland’s offense will be more productive in 2023.
Finally, Castillo is a slow starter and Bieber does well in these spots. Castillo is 5-6 in March-April with a 4.58 ERA. Bieber is 3-1 as a short-road ‘dog (+120 or less) and the Guardians are allow just 1.3 runs per 9 in those contests.
MLB Best Bet #3: Guardians (+100) ML at DraftKings, down to -125
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