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Baseball is back boys and girls.
For the next six months, there will be downtowners, Texas leaguers and day games. We’re here for it all.
We can wax poetic about the pastime for hours, but let’s break down all 13 games on the Opening Day slate (sadly two have already been rained out) so we can win some money.
All odds as of Thursday morning.
Chicago Cubs (-190) @ Miami Marlins (+170) | O/U: 8 | 12:40 p.m. ET
Probable Pitchers: Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33 ERA) vs. Jose Urena (14-7, 3.82 ERA)
Betting Market: Bettors are all over the Cubs in today’s first ballgame. Eighty-seven percent of the bets and 81% of the money has driven the line from -190 to -215 at Bookmaker. – Mike Marsh
Baseball Bounce Pass: What am I most looking forward to in this game? Miami getting runners on first base. I’m praying one of them will bait Lester into showing us his new and improved method of transporting the baseball from the mound to first base via bounce pass. Praying. – Danny Donahue
Smoke And Mirrors: If you covered up the names of these two pitchers and had to guess which one was a four-time All-Star and the other was Jose Urena, you’d probably get it wrong. Somehow, Urena was able to put up a solid ERA despite very poor peripherals last year. The 26-year-old had a 5.20 FIP, a 5.99 K/9 and a 3.39 BB/9 in 169.2 innings last year. It’s honestly impressive that he was able to keep his ERA in check in 2017, but it’s also very concerning. – Michael Leboff
Lo Duca Comin’ In Hot: How do you not play the Cubs here? Lester takes the hill in what will essentially be a HOME game. Even when I played and the Marlins were relevant, Cubs fans were a lot louder than Fish fans. Yes, I know Lester may not be the same pitcher he was a few years ago, but he still struck out a batter per inning in 2017 and he’s facing a roster straight out of Major League — a team slated to lose 100 games. Plus Lester is unique in a way. You don’t face a lot of starting southpaws who rely on a cut fastball. On the other hand, Jose Urena, who is coming off his worst outing of the Spring, is a COMFORTABLE at-bat for any hitter. Urena does not strike out many batters and usually sits around the zone, even though his control has been questionable at times. — Paul Lo Duca
Trends: Since 2009, Jon Lester is 13-23-11 (36.1%) on the first-five-inning moneyline in the months of March and April, making him the second-least profitable pitcher in that span behind Francisco Liriano. That record includes Lester’s 11-22-9 record when he’s listed as the favorite in this spot. – Evan Abrams
Lefties, lefties and more lefties: This game features a ton of lefty hitters: Our projected lineups have two left-handers in the top four for Miami and five in total for Chicago (including a lefty pitcher in Lester hitting ninth). Unfortunately, they’re all playing in Marlins Park, which is one of the worst places for lefties to hit, evidenced by their Park Factor of 1 (on a scale of 1-100) in FantasyLabs’ MLB Models. Neither of these pitchers were exactly inspiring last season, and Lester in particular showed concerning signs with his fastball, which was down nearly 2 miles per hour to 91.7 — easily the lowest mark of his career. The hitters in this one should make contact — Urena is one of the lowest strikeout pitchers going tomorrow — although it’s still not enticing for fantasy purposes given the field dimensions and low probability for many home runs. – Bryan Mears