Sixty games in 66 days for every MLB team, here we come. MLB is finally here, with the season opener no longer a remote-looking date of July 23, but a day.

Thursday.

THIS Thursday.

The New York Yankees open as favorites against the host and defending World Series champions Washington Nationals at 7:05 p.m. The Los Angeles Dodgers host the San Francisco Giants as big chalk in Thursday’s second game, just after 10 p.m.

Then the full schedule kicks in on Friday.

Among teams followed most closely by New Jersey sports betting fans, the New York Mets are favored against the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies are the solidly-installed choice against the Miami Marlins.

The bettors, and the fans, are ready.

“I have to go inside,” a New Jersey gambler told me one afternoon late last week. “The Phillies are playing an intrasquad game. I’m going to catch it.”

The bettors can’t wait and now we’re here. Let’s look at some of the numbers entering opening week of baseball.

Yankees vs. Nationals: DraftKings’ lines favor the Bronx Bombers

On the moneyline for Thursday, DraftKings Sportsbook likes the Yankees.

The Bronx Bombers are -139 and Washington is +120.

Here’s how the odds shakeup at DraftKings, FanDuel Sportsbook, and PointsBet NJ:

MLB MatchupDraftKingsFanDuelPointsBet
NY Yankees-139-130-140
Washington Nationals+120+114+120

The expected starting pitchers matchup presents a must-see barnburner. Newly acquired Gerrit Cole goes for the Yankees. Mighty Max Scherzer opens the defense of the Washington Nationals’ World Series championship.

The over-under for the game is about a run lower than an average baseball game, perhaps par with what you’d see from a matchup of pitching giants. The over-under is 7.5 runs with the over at -105 and the under at -117.

Feel creative? Think the Yankees can win by more than one run? The 1.5 run line is +128 for the Yankees. For Washington to get 1.5 runs, the line is -148.

Pitching in the summer heat

Premier pitching matchups often fail to deliver the low-scoring games expected during April.

But what about in the summer? This is an interesting scenario because most starting pitchers won’t go past six innings in their initial start.

Pitchers are normally ahead of the hitters early, but the hot summer temperatures favor hitters. These factors may cancel each other out.

Phillies vs. Marlins: Can Philadelphia prove the oddsmakers right?

The Phillies, for their season opener against the visiting Miami Marlins on Friday, are -205. That’s intriguing because the Phillies struggled against the Marlins last year at home, even being swept in a three-game series.

Here’s a closer look at the Phillies vs. Marlins game odds. (FanDuel and PointsBet have yet to post opening odds on this matchup.)

MLB MatchupDraftKingsFanDuelPointsBet
Philadelphia Phillies-205----
Miami Marlins+175----

Sandy Alcantara is Miami’s opening day pitcher.

Aaron Nola is expected to be the Phillies’ opening-day starter. But there is still enough time for all of that to change.

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FanDuel props worth a look for MLB betting

Here are some popular fun bets, tying in with gamblers following both their favorite teams and players.

On the board at FanDuel Sportsbook is a doozy: the first player to hit a home run this season.

Bear in mind that the first game of the year is the Yankees-Nationals. If that game goes dinger-free, the Dodgers and Giants become a high-paying target.

MLB Player Prop: First Home Run In 2020FanDuel Odds
Aaron Judge+550
Giancarlo Stanton+550
Juan Soto+650
Gleyber Torres+700
Eric Thames+1100
Gary Sanchez+1100
Trea Turner+1100
DJ LeMahieu+1300
Adam Eaton+1800

The last of the top 10 involve Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Howie Kendrick and Luke Voit at 20-1.

You also may want to think outside the box a little.

Cole and Scherzer are lights-out pitchers. Is that really the game that produces the first homer?

If you think not, Dodgers Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger are both +5000. Bellinger had 47 homers last year, and he’s a generous 50-1 odds. Justin Turner is +6000 or 60-1.

The beauty of this type of bet is you can select from different ranges and take a stab. Some will place one wager on the favorites, another on a mid-line player and one of the heavy-priced odds.

There may not be data to support this, but a big-name, free-agent hitter often finds a way to connect with a homer in his first game.

See if that fits into your overall MLB betting menu.

Yankees, Met, Phillies: Betting the first dinger

New Jersey gamblers have another venue regarding who’s going deep first. You can take the first player on each of these teams to touch em all at FanDuel.

For the Yankees, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are +300.

Gleyber Torres is +500, Gary Sanchez is +800 and Voit is +1000.

For the Mets, Pete Alonso is the likely suspect, at +250. Heck, he led the majors in homers last year at 53. But can he be first?

If not, Michael Conforto is +350, Yoenis Cespedes is +650 and Jeff McNeil stands at +700.

There’s a tie rounding out the top five, at +800. They include Brandon Nimmo, Wilson Ramos, and Robinson Cano. Yes, THAT Robinson Cano. The longtime Yankee dons a Mets uniform for the second year. He is 37 years old now.

As for the Phillies, Bryce Harper is the favorite at +250. Rhys Hoskins is next at +350. Then comes Andrew McCutchen and J.T. Realmuto at +500. Didi Gregorious, the new acquisition from the Yankees, is +650.

Free money for MLB opening day? You bet!

And here’s a slice of good news from NJ sportsbook apps.

The return of the MLB has sportsbooks posting free bet offers for those who are savvy enough to take advantage.

Fox Bet, for example, has an “MLB is Back!” promo for all customers that features $5 in free cash for each run your team scores in the opening game.

You can get up to $50 free in this offer when you bet just $5 on your favorite single MLB team opening game (point spread or moneyline). Odds must be -200 minimum. It must be one cumulative bet to qualify, and the first placed bet qualifies your team.

Over at DraftKings, there are several offers ready to go for opening day.

  • Scoring Special: Bet $25 on DraftKings’ featured games and get $5 per home run your team hits.
  • Odds boost: Bet on any 2019 MLB All-Star player to hit a home run on opening day. The boost is +100.
  • World Series $25 bet: Place a $25 bet on any team to win the World Series and get a $25 free bet to use on any opening day MLB game.

FanDuel features a World Series promo as well. A $50-plus futures bet on any team to win the World Series will earn you $5 in bonus cash for each game that team wins.

It includes only the first 10 games, but if your team is on a hot streak early, that’s a max of $50 in free bets.

PointsBet features a doozy of an offer with $10 in free bets for every home run in July. All it requires is a minimum $50 pre-game moneyline or runline bet. If the team you pick hits a home run, you get $10 free.

This is, of course, just a sampling of free bets and odds boosts available at NJ online sportsbooks. Most of them won’t last long either.

The clock is ticking on these FanDuel bets

Speaking of bets that won’t be around forever, you have to get these in at FanDuel before Thursday’s season opener.

Season-long home run leaders. Alonso is +1000, the favorite. Right there are Joey Gallo and Mike Trout at +1100.

Sleepers include Bellinger at +1700 and Nolan Arenado at +1800. Bellinger hit 47 homers last year, six behind Alonso. For someone able to lead the league in homers, he’s an excellent price.

Arenado is +1200 to lead in hits, along with Whit Merrifield. Jose Altuve is +1400.

On the pitching side, Cole is +230 to attain the most strikeouts. Scherzer is second at +550. And we get to see them go head-to-head this week. Jacob deGrom of the Mets is +850.

MLB line shopping at NJ sportsbooks

Let it begin.

On opening night, DraftKings has the over-under for the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants at 8.5. PointsBet has it at 8.

That’s a significant half of a number. If you like the under, you would like the DraftKings prop. That makes eight a victory.

If you like the over, PointsBet has a better line. At the very least, 8 is a push.

Multiply the small details of these lines by the potential of hundreds of bets over the course of a season and one can see the value of shopping to your profit-loss portfolio.

Good luck, New Jersey online betters, wherever your hunches, and wagers, lead.

Dave Bontempo

About

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.