By Doug Padilla for FrontPageBets
Love it or hate it, the drama of the rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees always stirs emotion, making it a fitting matchup to open the 2022 regular season on Thursday afternoon.
18 teams will be in action on the opening day, with another 12 making their debut on Friday.
The season should be nearly a week old by now, with off-season labor negotiations resulting in a further rift between owners and players, a shortened spring training session, 28-man rosters to start with and more in-game pitching changes to keep fans happy to bring to long for days when bullpen cars brought helpers to the hill in the shape of baseballs.
With many outside factors to discuss, baseball is indeed back.
When last season’s playoffs began, the Red Sox eliminated the Yankees in American League wildcard play, only to be knocked around by the Tampa Bay Rays in the Division Series. Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchup wipes the slate clean.
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FrontPageBets presents its best bets for the opening day.
Red Sox (+135) to defeat the Yankees in New York
Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi vs. Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole is a replay of the wild card matchup. Eovaldi was solid, giving up a run with eight strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings, while Cole was knocked out and gave up three runs in just two innings of work.
In this case, consider Cole the more determined starter. He had a 4.14 ERA in 12 second-half starts last season, not even counting his wildcard stumble. Of even more concern are his 4.91 ERA and 1,500 WHIP against the Red Sox in four starts last season, with nine walks and five homers allowed.
Eovaldi had 34 strikeouts in 34 innings against the Yankees last season and a 3.71 ERA despite giving up five home runs.
St. Louis Cardinals (-210) defeat Pittsburgh Pirates in St. Louis
If the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chris Taylor doesn’t hit a late-game home run in last season’s NL wildcard game against the Cardinals, Mike Shildt may still decide the starting lineup for Thursday’s season opener. But the difference in philosophy cited in Shildt’s firing ran deeper than the decision to throw a 2-1 shifter to Taylor in the ninth inning.
New Cardinals coach Oliver Marmol has picked right-hander Adam Wainwright for Thursday’s home game against Pirates right-hander JT Brubaker. In four starts against the Pirates last season, Wainwright won all over 30 total innings while posting a .30 ERA. Expect Wainwright to improve on a clunker of a season opener last year when he gave the Reds six runs in under three innings.
Brubaker had four starts against the Cardinals last season, going 0-4 with a 6.65 ERA and allowing six home runs, his most against any team. More pitching perspective on the Cardinals from St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Ben Frederickson.
Los Angeles Angels (-120) to defeat Houston Astros
MLB’s most dynamic player starts on the mound Thursday and smashes at the top as Shohei Ohtani begins his MVP encore for the Angels. No, it’s not Little League, but sometimes it feels like Ohtani. The opening Test for Ohtani comes against Astros, the divisional champions.
The Angels were only 6-13 against the Astros last season and were outplayed 118-57 in those 19 games. No other division opponent scored more than 86 runs against them. But the Angels have Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon back from injury to mingle with their newest MVP (Trout has three MVPs). And Los Angeles will unleash an expanded lineup with young producers Jo Adell, Brandon Marsh and Jared Walsh.
In two starts against the Angels last season, Astros left starter Framber Valdez gave up eight walks, his most against any team in 2021. This resulted in a 1,667 WHIP.
More analysis: MLB predictions by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writers.
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@FieldLevelMedia Doug Padilla has been in MLB for more than two decades and has covered betting angles for the last five seasons.