Lo Duca: The Magic of Opening Day, Plus Braves vs. Phillies Betting Notes

Lo Duca: The Magic of Opening Day, Plus Braves vs. Phillies Betting Notes article feature image
Credit:

Gregory Fisher, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Aaron Nola

Opening Day is finally here.

The best game in the world without a clock returns on Thursday with a 15-game slate.

People always ask me what it’s like to play on Opening Day and let me tell you, it’s really hard to describe how awesome it is to step out on that field for the first time.

You never get sick of Opening Day. It’s a holiday for baseball players, just like it is for baseball fans. Every team comes out of Spring Training thinking they can win the World Series.

Whether your team is expected to be good or bad, optimism is at an all-time high because you’re still 0-0 and you actually believe you’re going to the World Series. Your coaches will tell you that the experts are picking you to finish fourth in the division to inspire you, that really happens.

Younger players are especially excited. Those guys are just so excited that they made the big club, and if you’re a little older you’re excited to start collecting your paycheck.

It is the one day a season that bad teams and good teams get treated the same way and it’s really nice to hear your name get announced before the game.

The point is, even though only a handful of teams actually have a shot to win it all, the other teams spend the first week of the season trying to convince themselves they can pull off a miracle.

One thing to remember about Opening Day is that shadows play a huge role thanks to the odd start times. If it’s sunny out, the shadows will give the pitcher a huge advantage.

As for this Opening Day, there is one game I really like and it’s backed up by some Bet Labs data.

Favorites tend to perform very well on Opening Day. That makes sense if you think about it. A manager’s job is very easy on the first day of the season: You play your best lineup and start the ace of your staff, not to mention everybody is healthy and excited to get to the ballpark.

Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies Betting Odds

  • Moneyline: Phillies -180
  • Over/Under: 8.5
  • Probable pitchers: Julio Teheran vs. Aaron Nola
  • First pitch: 3:05 p.m. ET

This is my favorite game of the 15-deep slate.

I think this is a pitching mismatch as Julio Teheran takes on Aaron Nola.

Nola is coming off a break-out season that saw him finish third in the Cy Young race despite having the worst defense in baseball behind him. He’s got a much better ‘D’ behind him in 2019, thanks to the additions of Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen, while J.T. Realmuto is a terrific catcher.

Another thing I’m looking at here is each pitcher’s splits versus the opposing team today. I know these sample sizes aren’t big and pitcher vs. team splits aren’t all that predictive, but these numbers add more color to this pitching mismatch.

Nola sparkled against the Braves last season, pitching to a 2.30 ERA and giving up just one homer in five starts.

On the other side, Teheran was chewed up by the Phillies in 2018. He allowed 12 earned runs in 21 innings against the Phils in 2018 and that was without Harper, who owns a 1.125 OPS against Teheran in his career.

One last thing about Teheran — he seems to be a slow starter if you look at his career numbers. He doesn’t seem to like pitching in the cold, and I don’t expect him to be comfortable in the chilly weather.

Nola is the exact type of pitcher you do not want to see on Opening Day. His sinker will play in the cold and batters will all be pumped up and aggressive. He’s going to induce groundball after groundball.

The Bet: Philadelphia Phillies -180

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