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MLB Opening Day Picks: DraftKings Sportsbook Pool Predictions

Zach Thompson breaks down the MLB Opening Day Prop Pool on DraftKings Sportsbook, which locks at 7:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 23.

MLB: JUL 20 Diamondbacks at Dodgers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Major League Baseball’s shortened regular season is set to get underway on Thursday night with a two-game slate featuring the defending champion Washington Nationals hosting the New York Yankees and the San Francisco Giants taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the late game.

DraftKings is offering multiple ways for users to get in on the Opening Day action, including the MLB Risk-Free $3 [3 Entry Max, $300K + Cash Back!] contest. There is no risk to play since every entry will earn back at least the $3 entry fee with an opportunity to earn up to $20K for first place. Set your lineups here: MLB Risk-Free $3 [3 Entry Max, $300K + Cash Back!]

There is also a $1K free-to-play pool on DraftKings Sportsbook that enables DraftKings users to compete for free prizes. To participate in the free pool, choose winners on props offered up by the contest and compete for $1,000 in free prizes. Head here to participate: DraftKings Sportsbook Pools.

DraftKings users can also get in on the MLB action by betting on DraftKings Sportsbook or by downloading the DK Sportsbook app. For future pool action, check out DraftKings Sportsbook Pools.

Curious about when major leagues and events will return? Check out our DraftKings Sports Calendar for the latest updates.

New York Yankees vs. Washington Nationals: Game Result

  • Who will score first?
  • Which pitching staff will have more strikeouts?

The first game of the season has a great pitching matchup between Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole. Cole will be making his Yankees’ debut after cashing in this offseason by going 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA in 33 starts for Houston. Cole had an impressive 13.82 K/9 and was runner-up for AL Cy Young. Washington counters with their own ace in Scherzer, who went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 33 starts last season. He had a strong 12.69 K/9, which was second in the Majors behind only Cole’s mark. Scherzer was knocked around by the Phillies in his exhibition start and may not be in midseason form just yet, while Cole didn’t pitch in any exhibition starts but has reportedly been stretched out to 85 pitches. He has looked excellent in intrasquad games and has already proven he doesn’t shy away from a big stage like this.

With a stronger starting pitcher and a slightly more potent lineup, I think the Yankees will spoil the defending champs’ party and take the win in this contest. Due to Scherzer’s struggles, I think the Yankees will be able to jump on him early and get the first run across. It could be a shorter outing for Scherzer as a result, which would leave more innings for the Washington bullpen, which doesn’t come close to matching Cole’s strikeout potential. I think the Yankees sweep these three picks.

Choice: Yankees to win, Yankees to score first, Yankees to have more strikeouts

San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: Game Result

  • Who will score first?
  • Which pitching staff will have more strikeouts?

The Dodgers are heavily favored to win this game as they send Clayton Kershaw to the mound against Johnny Cueto. Kershaw missed Opening Day last year on the IL but will return to his role as Opening Day starter. In his previous Opening Day starts, he has gone 5-1 with a 1.05 ERA. The 32-year-old lefty did seem to slow a bit last season, with a 3.03 ERA, the highest he has posted since his rookie year in 2008. He still went 16-5 with 9.54 K/9. Cueto had only a 7.31 K/9 and was limited to just four starts by injury. He has the unenviable task of facing the Dodgers’ deep lineup on Opening Day. Even if neither starter is ready for a full workload, the Dodgers’ bullpen is stacked with strikeout specialists that should help them take the strikeouts prop handily.

The only one of these three props that is close for me is the “Who will score first?” prop. The Giants are the away team, which means they have the inherent advantage of batting first. However, Kershaw’s dominance on Opening Day and the fact that he is so good at home and early in the season makes me go with a Dodgers sweep on these three picks.

Choice: Dodgers to win, Dodgers to score first, Dodgers to have more strikeouts

Will Cody Bellinger or Aaron Judge hit a home run?

Bellinger and Judge are both great power hitters and can definitely go deep in any game. However, Bellinger averaged 11.9 AB/HR while Judge 14.0 AB/HR last year. Bellinger has one home run off of Cueto in 17 at-bats in his career. Judge hit a home run off Scherzer in the 2018 All-Star game but has never faced him in regular season action. The numbers would say no is the better option here, but with these two studs, it’s definitely possible.

Choice: No

Which team will hit the most home runs?

Since Cole has been so good and the Giants’ lineup doesn’t have as much power as the other options, I think the picks in play here are the Yankees, Dodgers and 2 or more teams to tie. While New York brings the power, I think the Dodgers will end up with the win in this prop since Cueto has surrendered 11 home runs in 13 starts over the past two seasons and gave up three home runs against Los Angeles in his one start against them last year, when he was knocked around for five runs in just two innings.

Choice: Los Angeles Dodgers

Will DJ LeMahieu have more hits than Mookie Betts?

After sitting out the first couple of weeks of Summer Camp due to COVID-19, LeMahieu has quickly ramped up and expects to be in the lineup against Scherzer. He hit .327 in his first season with the Yankees with a career-high 26 home runs. For this prop, though, it’s all about hits, which he had 1.36 per game last season. Mookie is expected to hit atop the potent Dodgers’ lineup this season after hitting .295 in Boston with an average of 1.17 hits per game. In this specific prop, Mookie gets the tie, and he has also had good success in his limited chances against Cueto, going 3-for-4. Since he should be in better form since he has been in camp, gets the tie, and has a good matchup, I’ll go with Betts.

Choice: No

Will Gerrit Cole have more strikeouts than Max Scherzer?

Cole’s advantage in stirkeouts per nine innings is 13.82 to 12.69, which is fairly minimal, especially giving Scherzer the tie. The problem with Max’s side of this prop is that I don’t think he’ll go as deep into the game as Cole and will be facing a tougher lineup (although one that does tend to strike out a lot). This is a close one, but I think Cole will pull out it by a punchout or two.

Choice: Yes

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.

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