Perhaps best known in the UK and Ireland as the sport Delboy Trotter referred to as ‘silly boys’ rounders’ and the source of some of the most stupid looking caps ever stocked by Foot Locker, but across the pond there’s tens of millions of people eagerly awaiting disappointment from their MLB team, similar to the plight of Arsenal fans on an annual basis.
The unfortunate thing for baseball fans is, even when it’s obvious after a week that their team won’t be up to much, they’ll still have to sit through another 155 games of that mediocrity. Small mercies, eh?
Anyway, that all goes out the window for Opening Day, and the one thing you’re guaranteed – quite like Cheltenham compared to a novice handicap in Kelso – is that everyone’s going to be at their best. Whether that’s good or enough or not is another question, but we can have a punt in full confidence that pitchers are dialled in, batters are all off the same OPS and the Dodgers haven’t won the World Series just yet.
Here’s a cheeky opening day treble for you to pitch your balls to.
The Mets have perennially been considered should-do-betters. Think Liverpool before Klopp. Every year is their year, except it never is. Their pitching staff has been on the good side of average for a while now, and while their rotation is spearheaded by the powerful duo of Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, they lacked a marquee defender.
Now, they have Francisco Lindor – a de facto top-three shortstop in the game – and a four-time All Star. Presuming Pete Alonso returns to the 2019 version of himself rather than the small sample we saw last year, they should have more than enough pop to beat Max Scherzer – who posted his worst WHIP of his career in 2020.
Diamondbacks are snakes. Now, saved you a click.
The Padres are near the top of the outright betting for the World Series and that’s largely down to the fact they added two studs in Yu Darvish and Blake Snell to their rotation this year. While they might have some question marks for their day four and five starters in the absence of Lamet for April, that won’t matter here.
Even without Nola, Grisham and not enough slots to fit in Kim just yet, the Padres have one of the most consistent batting orders in the majors. I also hesitate to see where Arizona’s runs will come from against Cy Young runner-up Darvish on opening day.
To me, this is both the most interesting and the evenest matchup on the opening day slate.
The Twins did next to nothing in free agency – but that’s no bad thing. They retained most of their firepower and begin the season with their ace in Kenta Maeda. He posted a 2.70 ERA in 2020 and even added a curveball in spring to add to his already-tough-to-predict repertoire.
Brandon Woodruff is a tough nut to crack, but the Brewers will need to see Christian Yelich bounce back in a big way if they’re to have the swagger required to take a divisional title here – the addition of Jackie Bradley Jr. isn’t the big splash they think it is – and I’d not be surprised to see serious regression from his eye-catching totals in 2020 that he posted in Boston.
I have fear of teams whose prized possession is their closer. The White Sox may love Liam Hendriks and they’ve good reason to – especially as he’d be cleaning up for the trifecta of Marshall, Bummer and Heuer.
But the White Sox need to get to the point of having a save to make for it to even matter, and they didn’t do enough to secure runs for themselves in free agency. Adam Eaton is certainly not the answer and if they go on to bank on Andrew Vaughn as a DH, they could well end up wasting Jose Abreu’s consistency again.
The Angels look set to waste Mike Trout’s career and that was only reaffirmed over the winter with their lack of moves, but on opening day, generally the best lineups win when they’re supplemented by a workable ace.
This is the Angels’ path to victory as Fletcher, Ohtani, Trout and Rendon is a nightmare top of the order for Lucas Giolito to handle.
- New York Mets to Beat the Washington Nationals
- San Diego Padres to Beat the Arizona Diamondbacks
- Minnesota Twins to Beat the Milwaukee Brewers
- Los Angeles Angels to Beat the Chicago White Sox
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