West Virginia sports betting fans have longed to hear the words proclaiming Major League Baseball’s season’s opener on Thursday.
Yes, there are other sports like the PGA Championship, NASCAR and horse racing from Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and Mountain Park this weekend.
But the spotlight belongs to MLB, the grand old game, as it launches its 60 games across 66 days.
Baseball betting is back!
Bettors face some key changes, including the absence of spectators, dulling the home-field advantage, along with unique extra-inning rules.
Every half-inning after the ninth will start with a runner on second base. This will be an edge for over bettors.
Regional scheduling will enhance rivalries, generate fan interest, and allow a complete schedule beginning on Thursday.
The New York Yankees, -141, are favored against the host and defending World Series champion Washington Nationals, +125 at DraftKings Sportsbook.
The over-under shows an intriguing downward movement. It opened at 8.5 and was trimmed a full run to 7.5 this week.
Besides being the opening game, this is must-watch baseball, as newly acquired Yankee flamethrower Gerrit Cole battles Max Scherzer. These are two of baseball’s most prolific strikeout kings, hooking up at 7 p.m.
At 10 p.m., the San Francisco Giants visit the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s hard to find value for a Dodgers bettor, as they are -295. The bet to consider is 7.5 on the run line as Johnny Cueto goes against Clayton Kershaw. If you do like the Giants, of course, go for it at +250.
The Pittsburgh Pirates open the season Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals as a tempting underdog.
Pittsburgh is +165 with Joe Musgrove versus Jack Flaherty, who is -195, also at DraftKings.
MLB prop betting at WV sportsbooks
You don’t have to wait for the Pirates opener to gain Thursday prop action.
The first player to hit a home run this season is an enticing bet: 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.
- Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton +550
- Juan Soto +650.
- Gleyber Torres +700.
- Eric Thames, Gary Sanchez, and Trea Turner +1100
- DJ LeMahieu +1300
- Adam Eaton +1800
The last of the Top 10 include Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Howie Kendrick and Luke Voit at 20-1.
You also may want to play an angle. 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 in the second game. Bellinger had 47 homers last year and he’s generous 50-1 odds. Justin Turner is +6000 or 60-1.
The odds are outstandingly high because it is assumed that the Yankees-National game has to produce a homer. But if you like a little misdirection, Muncy, Bellinger and Turner pay more than they should.
Pirates expectations are low
FanDuel Sportsbook has the Pirates projected win total of 25.5 as -106 for the over and -128 for the under.
Odds for winning the NL Central: FanDuel has the Chicago Cubs and new-look Cincinnati Reds tied at +230. The Pirates, who would have to beat four teams in order to secure a division title, are a whopping +7000. That’s 70-1 to beat four teams.
Regardless of how the Pirates do, there is a potpourri of fun league-wide prop wagers available all season.
Indulge in some, just because you enjoy being a baseball fan.
Here is a FanDuel sample:
The Yankees have been odds-boosted to +270 if they defeat the Nationals Thursday and eight or more runs are scored.
There’s a prop for someone hitting .400 on the season. It pays +700. The last time it happened was 1941 when Ted Williams hit .406.
Something that has not been done in 79 years should pay several times more than 7-1. But it’s a short season with only a couple of hundred at-bats. The odds suggest this is not impossible.
The over-under for any individual collecting over 105.5 strikeouts is -105 for the over, -120 for the under. This gives the bettor a prop to follow all year long, regardless of how their favorite team is doing.
Betting on the PGA 3M Open
The DraftKings board added some creativity with some top PGA players opting to skip the 3M Open, which starts Thursday.
They delivered a new feature that would be recommended every week: the top round of the entire tournament. You think a top player like Dustin Johnson or Tony Finau, who finished in the Top 10 last week, can deliver one round that beats all others? They are 20-1. Odds are much higher for many players.
As for the tournament:
- Johnson is +1200 to win, +275 for the Top 5, and +150 for the Top 10.
- Finau is +1400 to win, +300 for the Top 5, and +150 for the Top 10.
- Brooks Koepka is +1400 to win, +300 for the Top 5 and +163 for the Top 10.
UFC Fight Island: Can Whittaker Rebound?
The UFC has dominated the weekend stage since May 9 but generates less attention with the return of baseball.
Nonetheless, bettors see a competitive main event Saturday when Robert Whittaker is -120 against Darren Till, -105, in a middleweight contest, according to DraftKings.
Whittaker lost the middleweight title in his last fight, to current champ Israel Adesanya last October.
Till defeated Kelvin Gastelum by split decision in November.
Note the new times on UFC Fight Island. Prelims begin at 5 p.m., with the main card at 8 p.m.
A big horse betting bang
Hail Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. It comes through every week with the monumentally unexpected.
The track produced another superfecta last week that paid, as some horse betting fans would say, “telephone numbers.”
The second race last Friday paid a whopping $76,969 for the $2 superfecta.
Take a bow if you were anywhere in the vicinity of 45-1 longshot Carson’s Castle, edging out 13-1 pick Got Any, 5-2 shot Queen of Anything and 70-1 choice Charitable Amy in the second through fourth spots. Charitable Amy drifted up from 12-1 to 70-1 and completed a fantastic payout.
Charles Town is awash in opportunities, not only because of big fields but because these fields do not have standout favorites. There are no 6-5 or even-money shots winning most of these races.
It’s a great time to be taking a stab at the favorites-longshot mix at West Virginia tracks. When the favorites are suspect, horse betting customers have a shot at big money.
Consider five-horse boxes in the 10-cent superfecta for a $12 outlay when the favorite is 5-2 or higher. And hope you get the right longshots in there.
Charles Town runs Thursday through Sunday and Mountaineer Park operates Sunday to Wednesday at 7 p.m.