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MLB Opening Day Odds, Picks & Projections: Expert Betting Breakdown for Thursday’s 7 Opening Day Games

MLB Opening Day Odds, Picks & Projections: Expert Betting Breakdown for Thursday’s 7 Opening Day Games article feature image
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Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images. Pictured: Shohei Ohtani

  • We've got a seven-game Opening Day slate in Major League Baseball and plenty of betting value.
  • Sean Zerillo -- the engine that drives our daily MLB projections -- gives out how he's betting each of today's games.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown and betting picks as the 2022 season gets underway.

Welcome to the 2022 MLB season! Despite some weather postponements, we still have a seven-game slate for Thursday.

I wanted to provide a brief outline of the opening day games, provide how I’m betting them, and show examples of my process for arriving at those selections.

First, if you’re new here, you can find my preseason bets at the following links:

Furthermore, you can find my projections for every MLB game in the Action Network App (on both the Pro Projections tab and the game pages) and our Projections Hub (which you should bookmark).

Using those projections, where can we find actionable value on Thursday?

Odds tables via Caesars. You can shop for the best MLB lines all season long via our MLB odds page.

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs

Corbin Burnes vs. Kyle Hendricks

Brewers Odds -170
Cubs Odds +150
Over/Under 10.5 (-120/+100)
First Pitch 2:20 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Brewers probability: 61.8% (fair odds of -163)
  • Cubs probability: 38.2% (+163)
  • Projected total: 10.26

On a weather-neutral day at Wrigley Field, this total would be 7.5 or 8 (projected 7.7); but with 15 mph winds blowing out to center for Opening Day, the total inflated more than 30%.

I might be interested in playing a contrarian under in this matchup. That said, I’d prefer to wait for the total to climb to 11 (-118) or better before jumping in at a 2% betting edge.

Alternatively, bet an Over up to 9.5 (-110).

I don’t project any value regarding the First Five Innings, or “F5” total (projected 5.49).

The Brewers were the value side at opening odds of -130, but the full game moneyline is out of range.

That said, Milwaukee offers value on the F5 moneyline (projected 67.9% or -212 implied, vs. -175 listed at BetRivers), and I would place that bet up to -190 (65.9% implied).

Kyle Hendricks (4.99 xERA in 2021) and Corbin Burnes (2.00) are trending in opposite directions.

Hendricks’ struggles have continued this spring. Hopefully, Burnes can jump out of the gates hot like he did last season (6.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 11 K in his first start; 49 K and 0 BB through his first five starts).

Recommended Bets

  • Brewers F5 Moneyline (-175) at BetRivers (bet to -190)
  • Under 11 (bet to -118)
  • Over 9 (bet to 9.5, -110)

New York Mets at Washington Nationals

Tylor Megill vs. Patrick Corbin

Mets Odds -135
Nationals Odds +115
Over/Under 9 (-110/-110)
First Pitch 4:05 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Mets probability:  52.9% (fair odds of -112)
  • Nationals probability: 47.1% (+112)
  • Projected total: 9.45

Like the Brewers, I show a more significant edge on the Mets’ F5 odds, as opposed to their full game odds, since I view Tylor Megill (3.84 xERA in 2021) as a better pitcher than Patrick Corbin (5.66).

Corbin has shown signs of life this spring. Still, my base projection prefers Megill by more than one-third of a run per game (4.16 projected ERA for Megill; 4.54 for Cobin), and I show a betting edge on the Mets F5 moneyline (projected -117, listed -105) as a result.

You can bet the Mets F5 line up to -108 (52% implied) at just under a two percent edge compared to my projection (53.98%).

Furthermore, I show a very slight betting value on the Over 9 (projected 9.45) at -110 or better. It’s just a tiny edge (1.4%) — but if I weigh in Corbin’s 2021 performance, as opposed to a pure projection, I can make this total 9.78.

I like both of these lineups, dislike both bullpens, and Nationals Park is an underrated venue for hitters (108 Park Factor; fifth in MLB over the past three seasons), so taking the flat 9 seems logical too.

Recommended Bets

  • Mets F5 Moneyline (-105) at BetRivers (bet to -108)
  • Over 9 (bet to -110)

Cleveland Guardians vs. Kansas City Royals

Shane Bieber vs. Zack Greinke

Guardians Odds -125
Royals Odds +105
Over/Under 8 (-120/+100)
First Pitch 4:10 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Guardians probability: 52.8% (fair odds of -112)
  • Royals probability: 47.2% (+112)
  • Projected total: 7.93

I don’t see betting value on this matchup from any perspective, though it’s worth noting that Zack Greinke looked like a shell of himself at the end of last season.

Greinke’s second-half metrics (4.32 xFIP, 4.39 xERA, 5.34 ERA) indicate positive regression may lie ahead. Still, he didn’t pass the eye test, and Houston tried to avoid using him in the playoffs.

Shane Bieber’s performance also dipped (3.76 xERA) last season after winning the Cy Young in 2020 (2.54 xERA). Still, his award-winning sample in a pandemic-shortened season looks like the outlier than his 50 starts on either side of that campaign (3.64 xERA in 20219).

Depending on which criteria I weigh, I could make Cleveland as low as -104 or as high as -117 for this matchup.

Still, I don’t see actionable value at my current number, and the F5 adjustment also seems appropriate for both the moneyline and the total.

Recommended Bets

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Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals

JT Brubaker vs. Adam Wainwright

Pirates Odds +180
Cardinals Odds -210
Over/Under 8 (-110/-110)
First Pitch 4:15 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Pirates probability: 38% (fair odds of +163)
  • Cardinals probability: 62% (-163)
  • Projected total: 7.12

The Pirates are an underdog value side for Thursday, at roughly +180 (35.7% implied) or better, though I need closer to +190 to bet their F5 line. 

I am slightly high on the Pirates’ win total (projected 67.8). Everyone is low on the Cardinals (projected 79.9; market projected 78.7), so I anticipate betting on the Pirates in these head to heads more often than not.

Defensive excellence bolsters the Cardinals. Make St. Louis a neutral defensive team, and I’d lower its projection for this game to -136 (57.7% implied), more than a 4% decrease.

Defense is especially vital behind the ageless Adam Wainwright (3.87 xERA and xFIP in 2021).

However, the Pirates can play some defense, too — particularly third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes and new catcher Roberto Perez.

The Cardinals performed much better against lefties (115 wRC+, 3rd) than righties (92 wRC+, 17th) last season, and I expect the trend to continue this season, given the split data on their hitters.

With the Cardinals stuck in their lesser split, playing against another good defensive squad, I show value on the Under 8 (to -115).

Moreover, I found a juiced F5 Under 4.5 but would play the F5 Under to 4 (-110), compared to my projection (3.61).

Recommended Bets

  • Pirates Moneyline (+188) at BetRivers (bet to +180)
  • Under 8 (bet to -115)
  • F5 Under 4 (bet to -110)

Cincinnati Reds vs. Atlanta Braves

Tyler Mahle vs. Max Fried

Reds Odds +180
Braves Odds -210
Over/Under 8 (-120/+100)
First Pitch 8:08 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Reds probability: 39.4% (fair odds of +154)
  • Braves probability: 60.6% (-154)
  • Projected total: 8.70

The Reds are my second underdog value side for Thursday at +170 (37% implied) or better. However, the F5 adjustment appears correct, so this only looks like a full game wager.

While I also show a slight lean to the Over 8.5 (projected 8.7), I’m high on both Tyler Mahle (3.76 xERA in 2021), and Max Fried (3.50) for 2022, including a wins leader bet on Fried at +2500 (projected 14, second among pitchers).

And I would need plus money to take an Over 8.5 compared to my projection, anyway.

The Reds have at least one top-end reliever like Art Warren (1.71 xERA in 2021) and some intriguing options behind him. They can keep any offense in check if their starter cooks and their bullpen is fresh.

Art Warren’s slider has the sixth lowest xwOBA against in baseball behind only Aaron Ashby, Aaron Bummer, deGrom, Liam Hendriks, and Blake Treinen. #Reds pic.twitter.com/jVYmhUo5BU

— OnBaseMachine (@RedsFan_Brandon) September 25, 2021

Unfortunately, the Reds’ offense projects much better against righties (105 wRC+ in 2021, 8th) than lefties (80 wRC+, 28th), and I expect that to continue this season based on my splits projections.

I would make the fair line closer to -140 for this matchup if Fried were right-handed. Still, there’s enough value in the line to bet against the reigning champions on opening night.

Recommended Bets

  • Reds Moneyline (+188) at BetRivers (bet to +170)

Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels

Framber Valdez vs. Shohei Ohtani

Astros Odds +110
Angels Odds -130
Over/Under 8.5 (-110/-110)
First Pitch 9:38 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Astros probability: 48.4% (fair odds of +107)
  • Angels probability: 51.6% (-107)
  • Projected total: 8.79

Houston is my third underdog value play for Thursday, at +115 (46.5% implied) or better; just under a two percent edge compared to my projection. I would need +120 to bet the F5 moneyline.

I’m exceptionally high on Framber Valdez — who I bet to lead the league in wins (+2500) and as a longshot Cy Young candidate (100-1). Valdez might be the most underrated pitcher in baseball — averaging nearly one strikeout per inning (career 8.7 K/9) with a league-leading 70.3% groundball rate.

Moreover, I often find myself betting against Shohei Ohtani, the pitcher. The public loves to support the Japanese star, and I often project value in betting on the other side of his matchups.

I still rate Ohtani (3.51 weighted ERA) as a superior pitcher to Valdez (3.81 weighted ERA).

I also show slight value on the Over 8.5 but will wait for plus money at that number or for an Over 8 (-118 or better) to pop up.

Recommended Bets

  • Astros Moneyline (+115) at WynnBet (bet to +115)
  • Astros F5 Moneyline (bet to +120)
  • Over 8 (bet to -118) or Over 8.5 (bet to +100)
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San Diego Padres vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

Yu Darvish vs. Madison Bumgarner

Padres Odds -155
Diamondbacks Odds +135
Over/Under 8.5 (-120/+100)
First Pitch 9:40 p.m. ET

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Padres probability: 58.1% (fair odds of -139)
  • Diamonbacks probability: 41.9% (+139)
  • Projected total: 8.76

Arizona currently falls outside my value benchmark (typically two percent) for Thursday. I assume this line will move past my price target of +150 (40%) implied) at some point, which would force my hand at a two percent edge.

I’m not particularly eager to bet on Madison Bumgarner (7.79 xERA in 2020; 4.96 in the second half of 2021), and Yu Darvish (4.22 ERA, 3.75 xFIP, 3.49 xERA in 2021) seems like a tremendous bounce-back candidate — after allowing 1.52 HR/9 last season (career 1.15).

His flyball rate (45.3%) has never been higher — representing nearly a 15% increase year over year — so if he can correct his batted ball profile, the homers should dissipate.

The value side of the F5 moneyline tilts towards the Padres (projected -168, listed -167. I would have to jump in at -155 or better.

Both totals align with my projections, so I’m inclined to pass on this game unless we get a reasonable buy-back price on the Snakes.

Recommended Bets

  • Padres F5 Moneyline (-145) at BetMGM (bet to -155)

Bets (April 7)

  • Astros Moneyline (+115) at WynnBet (bet to +115)
  • Brewers/Cubs, Over 9 (bet to 9.5, -110)
  • Brewers F5 Moneyline (-175) at BetRivers (bet to -190)
  • Cardinals/Pirates, Under 8 (bet to -115)
  • Cardinals/Pirates, F5 Under 4 (bet to -110)
  • Mets F5 Moneyline (-105) at BetRivers (bet to -108)
  • Mets/Nationals, Over 9 (bet to -110)
  • Padres F5 Moneyline (-145) at BetMGM (bet to -155)
  • Pirates Moneyline (+188) at BetRivers (bet to +180)
  • Reds Moneyline (+188) at BetRivers (bet to +170)

Watching (April 7)

  • Astros F5 Moneyline (bet to +120)
  • Astros/Angels, Over 8 (bet to -118) or Over 8.5 (bet to +100)
  • Brewers/Cubs, Under 11 (bet to -118)

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