The 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) regular season officially kicks off this week on March 29. With all 30 MLB teams in action Thursday, let's take a closer look at two games and where the value's at. This year's opening day will be the earliest start to the season in league history.
Chicago Cubs vs Miami Marlins
Let's be honest -- it always comes down to the pitching matchups. The first game we'll look at is the Miami Marlins hosting the Chicago Cubs, with Jon Lester and Jose Urena up for their respective squads.
What to Watch For
Marlins' Main Man: Jose Urena had a strong campaign last year, finishing with a 3.82 ERA and a 14-7 record. He's now entering his fourth year in the majors, and what will be important to keep an eye on is his opposing batting average. He was at .238 last year, the best of his career, and among the lowest in the league.
Urena is projected to finish with 5 innings pitched Thursday, giving up 3.0 earned runs and about 6 hits; he averages five-to-six strikeouts per simulated matchup.
It's important to keep in mind the Miami rotation last season recorded a 4.82 ERA and had just 34 saves in 61 opportunities. That 4.82 ERA was No. 26 of 30 in the major.
Chicago's Bats: Last season, the Cubs' batting lineup recorded a .255 average.
Albert Almora and Kris Bryant lead the way in sims for Chicago, with Almora averaging 1.6 hits per sim with 4.5 at bats per sim, and Bryant with 1.4 hits per sim with 4.2 at bats per sim. Bryant does have a higher probability of hitting a homerun, averaging 0.22 HRs per sim compared to Almora's 0.14. The Cubs average 5.3 runs score per sim, compared to 4.9 for the Marlins.
Key Betting Trends
- The Cubs are 1-4 straight up (SU) in their last five games going back to last year.
- The Cubs are 7-3 SU in its last 10 games vs the Marlins.
- The Cubs are 3-7 SU in their last 10 games when playing on the road against the Marlins.
Vegas opened this matchup with the Cubs as money line favorites (-192) and the total set at 8. The Marlins are getting +180 on the money line, indicating about a 35.7 chance of winning for Miami. They, however, win over 46 percent of simulated matchups, providing a ton of value on them in most books.
The Cubs are 2-6 against the spread (ATS) in their last 8 games on the road vs the Marlins.