MLB Opening Night 7/23/20 – Nationals vs Yankees

Betting Line – Yankees -141 | Nationals +123. Total 7.5

The 2020 MLB regular season is finally here. There was speculation for quite some time on there not being a season, but we are ready to go!

I’ll tell you this much, coming into this year if there was ever a season to take it slow from onset, it’s this one. There is absolutely no need to risk the IRA, the kid’s college fund or the nickels underneath your couch just to have action early on. With plenty of added variance this year, why stack your own added risk on top of that? Finding edges and betting just to fill a rush are two totally different things. Moral of the story, be the tortoise early on, not the hare. Otherwise, you’ll likely be a homeless hare.

What a match-up to start the season. The Yankees new golden boy Gerrit Cole against Nationals aging ace Max Scherzer. Here’s one thing you can throw away coming into this game: prior match-ups/numbers between these two. They mean next to nothing here. This is literally game one of a baseball season in the middle of a pandemic in front of no fans. You don’t think this will be a bit of a mental hurdle for at least some players (especially pitchers), maybe even all? With that said, why would any recent pitching performance like game 1 of the World Series mean anything to project this game’s outcome. I know a voice inside your head is saying “small sample size” as it should be. I’m as much of a numbers junkie as you’ll find betting MLB, but how can you truly define an edge with everything else taken into consideration. So, if we’re throwing recent numbers out, how are we approaching this game from a handicapping perspective?

Let’s start with some facts.The Nationals lost Anthony Rendon to the Angels, who was a huge cog in the middle of that lineup and heavily responsible for their World Series run last year. Tough guy to replace especially when you consider Starlin Castro was their move. This lineup is still respectable, but this bullpen is once again a red flag. The Yankees lineup figures to be one of the best (if not the best) in MLB. Gary Sanchez will be hitting 6th which should say enough to the depth of talent. Speaking of Sanchez, I think Cole will regress a bit from his Astros stay having Sanchez frame pitches for him. Last year and even years prior, Sanchez has been one of the worst framers in the game behind the dish. Cole is coming from a pitching environment in the Astros who have sported one of the better frame rates as a team in MLB, so this will be a back-step. I can’t stress enough how much framing matters in MLB and it can quietly be a brutal stat for pitchers. Contrary to that, it can quietly be an incredible stat for pitchers also.

Scherzer gets rocked in his last spring training start against the Phililes last week, but it’s like I said about numbers right now, who cares. Especially in spring training, where pitchers are focused on isolating certain pitches/locations and not always focused on their “best” stuff. Cole’s been good thus far in the spring for the Yanks, but again, what does this really mean? You obviously give the lineup edge and bullpen edge to the Yanks here though. Cole and Scherzer are truly a toss-up, where I’d lean Scherzer personally and the game is being played in Washington. Don’t downplay the no fans thing. Pitching at home is still anadvantage and we know how pitchers can be creatures of habit.

Here’s where my heads at for this game betting wise. I can’t lay north of 140 with a road team throwing out a newly acquired pitcher vs a proven ace in Mad Max at home. I get it, the Yanks will be a top team this year, and the Nats likely will not, but this is one game. I think what happens here as we approach tomorrow evening is the betting market moves this line further in favor of the Yanks. If this line climbs into the -150/-160 neighborhood, this will open up a +1.5 run-line in favor of the Nats at about -135. At that price, I’m getting Max Scherzer at home at an egregious dog price or +1.5 runs. This would be my target, but I wouldn’t bet it flat like that. I would bet 1/4 unit on Nats +140 and 1/4 unit on Nats +1.5 at -135 to total 1/2 unit risk. You’ll often see this from me where I make bets that slide into range. We’re not in that range yet and if we don’t get there I’ll be off, but if the market helps us out, I’ll fire a total of 1/2 unit on the Nats with both combined bets. With this said, the Yankees would become a 1/2 unit play for me if they slide down to -120. Neither move may fully happen and that’s fine. Stick to numbers and if the markets don’t fall into them, it’s plenty fine to avoid.

To recap, I’d bet the Yanks if I can get -120 on them OR I’d bet the Nats if I can get +140 on them. I’d also slightly hit the run-line for the Nats if +1.5 -135 opens up. Limited unit action regardless. The middle ground for me is off and do realize the closer those lines get to either team would be where I at least lean (ex. if line moves to Yanks -150 | Nat +130, I’d then lean Nats. As for the F5 or total, a F5 isn’t really a target this early for me knowing we are getting a limited game off a layoff betting in this fashion. Argument could be made for Nats value with not needing to touch the pen, but Cole is still Cole at not at a crazy price. Do realize, that almost all Cole starts this year will be at least -200 or above and here it’s far lower. As for the total at 7.5, it’s hard to justify one way or the other, and I’ll be completely off. Competent bats on both ends vs great starters. I’ll simply avoid in this one.

This early in the year, you’re crazy to be throwing one unit or more on any wager. As I’ve said, start slow, we have a shorter than normal MLB season, but it’s still going to last 3+ months. Ease into it and once you have a larger sample of data, you can open up the playbook more. I’ll add a video play on our YouTube Channel ( for Dodgers/Giants, so be sure to also check that out.


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