The nightcap of MLB’s opening day features a matchup of old and bitter NL West rivals as the San Francisco Giants head south to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are heavy favorites with a moneyline of -310 while the Giants have a moneyline of +250.
Of course, the Giants are heavy underdogs, in general, coming into the season. The club’s veteran players are no longer in their prime or capable of carrying the load. The Giants have yet to move into a full-blown rebuilding period. That leaves them in a tough spot heading into the 2020 season.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers will open the season as the overwhelming favorites to win both the NL West and the National League. Los Angeles is coming off another disappointing postseason appearance in 2019 but doubled-down again over the winter by trading for Mookie Betts. With just 60 games to play, the pressure is on the Dodgers to start fast and seize control of the NL West right away.
Dodgers’ Ace Takes the Mound
As usual, Clayton Kershaw will get the start for the Dodgers on opening day. For the first time since his rookie season, Kershaw posted an ERA over 3.00 last year, but it was only 3.03. He did win 16 games, so it wasn’t a disastrous season by any stretch. Nevertheless, Kershaw might be starting to show the slightest effects of aging.
With that being said, Kershaw has always pitched well against the Giants, who don’t exactly have the strongest lineup in baseball. San Francisco’s lineup is also filled with lefties, including Brandon Belt, Mike Yastrzemski, and Alex Dickerson.
Even right-handed batters like Hunter Pence and Evan Longoria have had limited success against Kershaw. The only exception might be Wilmer Flores, who has an OPS of .813 against the lefty, albeit in just 15 at-bats.
Johnny Cueto will take the mound for the Giants on opening day. In the past, that job has gone to Madison Bumgarner, who signed with Arizona during the offseason. That means Cueto gets the nod on opening day. Cueto returned from Tommy John surgery last September and posted a 5.06 ERA over four starts. However, he’s had more time to recover from the surgery, so he should be in a better position to perform.
Of course, the Los Angeles lineup is one of the most potent in the majors. Cueto has struggled in his career against hitters like Justin Turner and Corey Seager. Mookie Betts is 3 for 4 with a double in limited action against Cueto while Cody Bellinger is 6 of 17 with three extra-base hits. Those numbers don’t create much confidence in Cueto’s ability to handle such a deep lineup.
The moneyline for each team says it all in this game. Given the questions about Cueto returning from surgery and facing such a lethal lineup, it’d be shocking to see the Dodgers lose this game. Even if Kershaw isn’t in mid-season form, the Giants don’t have a lineup that should give him too much trouble. While the payout isn’t much, play it safe and bet on the Dodgers to beat the Giants on opening day.
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