Yankees vs Astros Odds, Prediction | MLB Opening Day Pick

Yankees vs Astros Odds, Prediction | MLB Opening Day Pick article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Judge and Framber Valdez

Yankees vs Astros Odds, Prediction | MLB Opening Day Pick

Thursday, March 28
4:10 p.m. ET
Yankees Odds
-120o / +100u
Astros Odds
-120o / +100u
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Here's everything you need to know about Yankees vs Astros on Thursday, March 28 — including odds and a prediction.

The latest Yankees vs Astros odds have the Astros as -155 favorites on the moneyline with an over/under set at 8.5 total runs. The over/under is key to my Yankees vs Astros prediction.

Last season did not go according to plan for the New York Yankees. Injury woes and a struggling lineup contributed to an 82-80 record and the club missing the playoffs for the first time in eight years. The Yankees are dealing with a few notable injuries with Gerrit Cole and DJ LeMahieu beginning the season on the IL. However, there's still plenty of optimism in the Bronx, though the Yankees will face an early season test when take on the Astros on Opening Day.

At this point, American League teams know that to get to the World Series, they must go through the Astros. Houston reached the ALCS in each of the last seven seasons. Three times in that span, they have defeated the Yankees. Consequently, that has created quite a bit of bad blood between these teams, particularly following the 2017 ALCS.

Continue reading for my Yankees vs Astros pick and preview for Opening Day.

Check out our MLB Betting Hub for more previews from today's slate.

New York Yankees

In 2022, Aaron Judge set the American League home-run record with 62 homers and won his first AL MVP. While he hit 37 homers last season, he only played 106 games. The team cratered offensively in his absence, averaging just 4.1 runs per game for the season. The Yankees finished 25th in the MLB in runs scored despite ranking ninth in home runs – a sign there were not a lot of men on base even when Judge did play.

The Yankees finished 29th in the MLB in team Batting Average and 27th in On-Base Percentage. As a result, 64 of Judge's 99 home runs over the last two seasons have been solo shots.

To rectify that, the Yankees traded for one of the game's best hitters in Juan Soto. He will be expected to join Judge in hitting a lot of home runs this season, but Soto also draws a lot of walks and has a .421 On-Base Percentage for his career. Soto is expected to hit second — just ahead of Judge in the Yankees lineup for the season opener and much of the season.

The Yankees will also be hoping for better health from Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo along with a breakout sophomore season from Anthony Volpe. The 22-year-old shortstop proved his glove is MLB-ready by winning a Gold Glove as a rookie and showed flashes at the plate with 21 home runs and 24 stolen bases. However, he also had a .209 Batting Average and .666 OPS, landing below the league average.

On the mound, Nestor Cortes will get the ball for his first career Opening Day start. Cortes may enter the season as a forgotten man in the Yankees rotation with the attention on Cole's elbow and whether or not Carlos Rodón has a better second season in the Bronx. However, Cortes went 14-7 with a 2.61 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 266 strikeouts in 251 innings and 42 starts across the 2021 and 2022 seasons, earning an All-Star nod in the latter year.

The Yankees will be hoping for a return to form from him as well after his numbers elevated to a 4.97 ERA and 1.25 WHIP as injuries limited him to 12 starts. However, that bounce back may not begin against the Astros. Cortes has a 6.86 ERA in seven appearances (four starts) in his career against Houston. He also threw 75 pitches in his final Spring Training start, so I would expect him to go four to five innings on Thursday.

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Houston Astros

Without any notable injuries, the Astros enter 2024 by returning the heart of one of the game's best lineups with Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker at the top of the hitting order. The Astros ranked in the top seven in the majors in runs scored, home runs, Batting Average and OPS last year. That was despite only having Alvarez in the lineup for 114 games, which was still enough time for him to hit 31 home runs and drive in 97 runs.

Tucker carried the team for stretches last season, particularly after Alvarez went down. He finished with 112 runs batted in, a .886 OPS and came up one home run shy of both his third consecutive 30-home-run season as well as a 30-homer, 30-stolen-base season. He has the potential to get there this season, and the Astros will also be eyeing continued production from Chas McCormick and Yainer Diaz after breakout 2023 seasons.

McCormick entered last season with 28 home runs and 3.7 WAR in his career. Last season, he hit 22 home runs, slashed .273/.353/.489 and had 3.6 WAR in his third season in the big leagues. Meanwhile, Diaz hit .282 with a .846 OPS and 23 home runs in just 104 games. He should see even more playing time this year after Martin Maldonado signed with the White Sox.

McCormick and Diaz add length to an already potent lineup. However, the Astros also have a deep pitching staff. That depth will already be tested with Justin Verlander beginning the year on the IL, but they will be in more than capable hands with Valdez starting on Opening Day.

Valdez is 40-23 with a 3.13 ERA across 84 starts over the last three seasons, earning All-Star appearances in the last two. Valdez threw 82 pitches in his final spring training start, so he may be in line to go deeper into this game than Cortes. Valdez has thrown five innings or more in his Opening Day starts the last two seasons. He has allowed eight hits in 11 and 2/3 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts.

However, that scoreless streak may be in jeopardy as he has a career 6.75 ERA in three starts spanning 13 and 1/3 innings in his career against the Yankees.

Yankees vs. Astros

Betting Pick & Prediction

With better health, this Opening Day matchup would likely pit Gerrit Cole against Justin Verlander, a pair of former Cy Young Award winners and teammates. Additionally, Cole and Verlander both have great history against their respective opponents.

Cortes and Valdez are both excellent pitchers in their own rights, but they have struggled against these opponents. Cortes has allowed six home runs to Astros hitters while Valdez has given up two to Yankees batters.

Given that it is Opening Day, neither starter may work particularly deep into this game. That could open a bit of scoring if the teams work deep into their bullpens early on. Additionally, the game will be played in Houston with either the roof closed or a clear forecast. Weather should not be a factor here, unlike a few games around the league.

Considering these factors, I like the over in this matchup. One of Cortes' two starts against the Astros last season went over with a 6-5 final. A 5-4 game would get us over today.

Pick: Over 8.5 (-115) 

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