The Los Angeles Dodgers are favorites to win the 2020 World Series, and they'll begin their quest for the championship on Opening Day at home against the San Francisco Giants.
Although Thursday's visitors have won the Fall Classic three times in the past decade, they've managed just one playoff series win over the past five seasons. The Giants have been well below .500 for three years now.
Our latest MLB futures odds list L.A. at +380 to win it all in this shortened 60-game season. For more on Thursday's opener in particular, continue reading for our analysis of the wagers and main bet lines, and what to look for in the Opening Day nightcap.
Date: Thursday, July 23
Time: 10 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Giants 26%; Dodgers 70%
Spread: SF +1.5 (+130); LAD -1.5 (-120)
Moneyline: SF +280; LAD -238
Speaking of San Francisco's glory days, catcher Buster Posey was Rookie of the Year in 2010's title run, and won MVP honors in 2012. However, Posey won't be around, opting out of this season due to COVID-19.
While the Dodgers' rotation will feel the absence of southpaw sensation David Price, — who's also not playing in 2020 —they still have a dominant lefty in Clayton Kershaw headlining the staff.
Kershaw would've given Los Angeles a huge edge on the mound on Thursday versus Johnny Cueto, who's made only 13 starts the past two seasons around recovery from Tommy John surgery. However, the Dodgers ace was a late scratch due to back stiffness. Rookie Dustin May gets the ball for the hosts, which is quite the move onto baseball's center stage.
34.8 vs. 10.0: Glimpse the glaring disparity between batting Wins Above Replacement for the Dodgers and Giants. Last year, L.A. was MLB's No. 2 club in this category. San Francisco was 25th — and hit only 167 home runs compared to the Dodgers 279.
3.11 vs. 4.77: These stats simply show the starting pitcher ERA for both clubs from 2019. L.A. has the edge, yet the gap is less significant with May replacing Kershaw. It'll be interesting to see if Cueto's experience winds up giving the Giants an edge here.
11.17 vs. -0.21: These last couple numbers offer the underdogs another ray of hope, showing how San Francisco's relief pitchers led baseball in Win Probability Added during last season. The Dodgers scored slightly negative here and ranked 21st.
Another big narrative looming over this contest is the fact that superstar outfielder Mookie Betts just signed a monster contract to keep him with the Dodgers for the rest of his career.
Betts' 12-year, $365 million extension alleviates any concerns L.A. had that he was a mere 60-game rental. Now, the former Red Sox standout is a legitimate franchise cornerstone on an absolutely stacked roster.
Between Betts and center fielder Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers have two legitimate MVP candidates. Bellinger had 47 homers and 115 RBI in 2019. Rounding out the outfield is Joc Pederson, who socked 36 dingers of his own last year.
At the corners of the infield, third baseman Justin Turner had 27 home runs a season ago, and first baseman Max Muncy jacked 35 over the fence. This is power money can barely buy, and only Muncy will turn 30 this season.
If Cueto somehow hangs on in the early going and the Giants' bullpen carries over their stellar form from yesteryear, maybe there's a chance for an upset. Alas, it seems like a remote hope and a long shot for the road team.
It's clear the Dodgers moneyline isn't really worth going in on, since it's a $238 bet to win $100 as of this writing. Wagering a modest amount on San Francisco at +280 nets a payout of nearly 3-to-1, so that's where most of the action should be on the moneyline.
Prop bettors who are extremely confident in an L.A. victory will likely look for alternative spreads and longer odds, but the straightforward spread handle should greatly favor Dodgers -1.5.
As far as the total runs are concerned, Kershaw's late scratch pressed the unproven May into duty. Those are some big shoes to fill, and Cueto isn't exactly a lock to have a strong start either — more due to the home team's loaded lineup than his ability. Thus, expect more bets to be placed on the Over 8.5.
Note: Odds current as of 7:15 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 23.
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