We could all stand to take an Opening Day approach to our every day lives. Opening Day is the day when anything is possible. The MLB season is full of unexpected trials and tribulations. Yet, on Opening Day, no matter what the expectations are for your favorite team, anything is possible.
The division nobody expects you to win? You can still win it. That hyped prospect who crashed and burned last year? He can still figure it out. The Angels can't make the playoffs despite having Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani? Maybe this is their year!
And you know what? For must of us, things won't go as hoped. Our teams will lose. Players will get hurt. Shohei Ohtani will sign a giant contract with the Dodgers or Yankees. But come the next Opening Day, we'll once again believe anything is possible. Because it is, especially if you read the following stories.
- All our MLB predictions for 2023 are right here.
- The five reasons Lamar Jackson hasn't gotten the contract he's seeking.
- The CBS Sports College Basketball All-America teams are out.
While we're on the topic of optimism, how about we win all our bets tonight?
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Celtics at Bucks, 7:30 p.m. | TV: TNT
- Key Trend: The Celtics are 5-2 ATS in their last seven road games while the Bucks are 1-4 ATS in their last five at home.
- The Pick: Celtics +2.5 (-110)
Yes, I opened the newsletter writing about how great Opening Day is, and the featured pick tonight is an NBA game. What do you want from me? It's the two best teams in the East going at it. Plus, baseball is not easy to bet at any time of the season, and it's even more difficult early in the season. This is a possible preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. Milwaukee holds a three-game lead on Boston in the race for homecourt in the playoffs, and while it's unlikely the Celtics can close that gap, it becomes impossible with a loss tonight.
Both teams are playing well, each having won seven of their last 10, but those results have been slightly skewed for the Bucks. Milwaukee has a net efficiency of 6.2 over those 10 games. It ranks seventh in the league in that span. What's keeping the Bucks from being even better right now is the defensive end, as their defensive efficiency of 113.7 ranks 10th.
Then there's Boston. The Celtics have been the best team in the league from an efficiency standpoint all season, and the last 10 games have been no different. They're at +11.8 in the last 10 games, which is 2.3 points better than New Orleans in second. Boston's doing it on both ends as well, as their offensive efficiency is second in the league, and it's the same story on defense.
That defense is what has me leaning so heavily toward Boston tonight. I expect Milwaukee to turn up the defensive intensity tonight, and we will see a close, hotly-contested affair. The kind of game that tends to come down to the final possessions, and in a situation like that, it's hard to pass up getting points.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model is a big fan of one side of the spread tonight, but is it the same side of the spread we're on?
💰 MLB Picks
White Sox at Astros, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: White Sox (+115) -- The Astros may be the best team in baseball this season. They may win another World Series. However, they're slightly overpriced tonight. In recent years the Astros have sent players like Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander to the mound on Opening Day. Tonight it's Framber Valdez, who is very good but is not on the level of Cole or Verlander. Furthermore, the Astros won't have Jose Altuve tonight, either, and while the offense has plenty of depth to cover his absence, it still matters.
Then there's the matchup. Valdez is a lefty who isn't an elite misser of bats and does not have elite control. The White Sox, for all their faults last season, crushed left-handed pitching and have done so consistently for years. With it being early in the season and pitchers not fully stretched out, there's a good chance the White Sox can get to Valdez early and steal a win tonight.
Rockies at Padres, 9:40 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Over 7 (-120) -- The Padres have high hopes entering the year, and they should. But if this team has a weak spot, it's the starting rotation. There are a lot of decent guys, but there isn't an ace. Honestly, I don't know how seriously I can take a contender when Blake Snell is the team's Opening Day starter.
Snell doesn't stink, but he rarely pitches deep into games because he throws so many pitches. Last year he had a strikeout rate 41% better than league average and paired it with a walk rate 15% worse than league average. In the rare moments the ball is put in play against him, the ball is often hit hard and in the air. So when I combine Snell's profile as a pitcher and the thunder in San Diego's lineup going against German Marquez (low-strikeout, lots of dingers allowed), that total seems pretty low!
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Projection Model has one A-graded MLB play tonight, and it's a money line play between the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox.