Long-awaited MLB season set to begin

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Enough is enough, I need some sleep!

The fact I’ve watched more Korean baseball over the past couple of months than I’d ever seen highlights of during the previous 50 years of life means my sleep schedule has gone awry.

Back to American soil, as the much-anticipated Major League Baseball season is upon us. Through contract talks, coronavirus, other leagues entering bubbles, players opting out, players testing positive, the 60-game Major League-madness will begin on Thursday.

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That’s what we do know. Let’s talk about some things we may not know, especially in terms of what the reopening means to baseball bettors, fans and the sports books.

“It’s business as usual,” William Hill director of trading Nick Bogdanovich said. “And then we’re going to react as fast as humanly possible if we see certain things happening. Are the prices too high? Are the ‘dogs more live because of no spring training or lack of physical training in the offseason and are these pitchers ready to go?

“(But) I believe it’s gonna be business as usual, adjust on the fly.”

Although we’ll see a universal designated hitter to avoid overtaxing pitchers by putting them in the batter’s box, both Bogdanovich and Westgate SuperBook VP of Risk Management Jeff Sherman said totals won’t be affected much.

“We’ve been booking the DH forever in the American League, so I don’t think it’ll be that big of a hurdle to overcome,” Bogdanovich said. “I don’t think that’s a major deal. Totals are just going to be a little higher in the N.L. All the professionals will sharpen our lines up real fast for us. If they think we’re too low on these National League totals they’ll tell us immediately.

Sherman said: “You got the pitcher you don’t expect anything from, but even though you put the hitter in, it’s not like you’re penciling in a 2-for-4 out of the guy. The guy could go 1-for-4 with a single and have no effect on the game.”

As I wrote two weeks ago, with fewer games to play this season, we’re going to see managers employing greater urgency when it comes to utilizing their best relievers while preserving their top starters. That could be troublesome for teams that need a couple of times through the lineup to adjust. Conversely, offensive-packed teams like the Dodgers, Phillies and Nationals could thrive with one more power bat at the plate.

There are several other rules that won’t have an effect when I handicap games, like the runner on second base in extra innings, having no restrictions on position players pitching, and pitchers taking wet rags to the mound to avoid licking their fingers. Personally, the DH will be the only change I’ll take in consideration, specifically when handicapping totals.

The latest wrinkle to infiltrate an already quirky season is the Toronto Blue Jays searching for a venue to host their home games after the Canadian government banned them from playing at Rogers Centre.

Sherman said he didn’t have to adjust win totals whatsoever and doesn’t believe it’ll have as big an impact as one might think considering there will be no fans.

“Even if they played in Toronto, there’s still no spectators,” he said. “The players feed off the energy of the crowd, so it shouldn’t have as big an effect.”

Let’s get the season started right, with three winners:

Thursday

Yankees at Nationals: Washington having a designated hitter on Opening Day will be fun to see against Yankees starter Gerrit Cole. Washington starter Max Scherzer may not have an impressive lifetime ERA (4.04) against the Yankees, but that’s more so from his days with Detroit. I expect Scherzer to be at his best. NATIONALS

Giants at Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw against the Giants with lifetime numbers of 23-12 and 1.74? I’ll play that against San Francisco starter Johnny Cueto, who saw action in just four games last season, going 1-2. One of those losses was to L.A. He’ll play his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018. This is a rough task. DODGERS RUN LINE

Friday

Brewers at Cubs: Take the Cubs and starter Kyle Hendricks, who recorded a 2.04 ERA in 14 starts at home in 2019. The right-hander has a 3.08 ERA against Milwaukee during his career. In five appearances against Chicago, Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff has a 6.75 ERA, including a 9.00 clip in his lone start in 2019. CUBS

About the Author

W.G. Ramirez

W.G. Ramirez is a 32-year veteran covering sports in Southern Nevada, and resident of 46 years. He is a freelance reporter in Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press.

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