Baseball’s Winter Meetings are over and it won’t be long before you begin to hear the words “pitchers and catchers report.” It never hurts to start looking ahead to some of the bigger games on the MLB slate in 2023, and the league is mixing things up with a new format that allows every team to play every other team this season. Divisional rivalries are reduced in favor of a more spread-out system, as MLB puts to the test the old adage that variety is the spice of life.
Without further ado, here are five dates (or series of dates) that we’re circling with a very early eye on MLB betting.
March 30: Giants vs Yankees
The Aaron Judge free agency sweepstakes offered up several weeks of rumors, massive money amounts, and even the opportunity to bet online as to where he’d end up. The two teams at the center of it all were the Giants and Yankees, who eventually re-signed their superstar outfielder for $360 million.
Not long after it was unable to wrest Judge from the Yankees, San Francisco lost star left-hander Carlos Rodon to – you guessed it – the Bronx Bombers.
The teams open the season with a matinee at Yankee Stadium on this late-March date. If somehow the weather cooperates, there could be plenty of intrigue between the two teams that long ago played their home games mere blocks from one another.
March 30 will also be a historic date for the entire sport, as it’s the first Opening Day in which every team is on the schedule since 1968. If we can find some Las Vegas odds on the weather cooperating, there could be loads of action, as early spring will probably be a factor in New York, Boston, Cincinnati, and Seattle, to name just a few cities.
April 28: Phillies vs Astros
We don’t have to wait too long for a rematch of the World Series, won by the Astros in six games.
The last time these teams met in Minute Maid Park on November 5, we saw Houston finish things off with a 4-1 triumph, clinching a title at home for the first time in its history. Framber Valdez, the next man up in a deep Astros rotation after the departure of Justin Verlander, was on the mound to start that one and could go against the Phillies again in this three-game set.
Philadelphia comes to town with a new toy in the form of shortstop Trea Turner, who signed with the club for $300 million. The Astros are the only team in the majors that Turner has never played, so he’ll be especially pumped up to take a crack at the defending champs and their vaunted staff.
The Astros are currently locked with the Los Angeles Dodgers atop our World Series odds page at +650. The Phillies are just a few spots down at +1200. There should be plenty of MLB picks to analyze this late-April weekend in Houston.
June 19-21: Mets vs Astros
Another Astros situation, this one involving the potential return of Verlander to Minute Maid. We have no idea if he’ll be lined up to face his former mates during this first week of summer, but there should be plenty of attention as the three-time Cy Young Award winner (two of them with Houston) returns with his new teammates.
Verlander, who turns 40 in February, signed a two-year contract with the New York Mets earlier this month. He has posted a sparkling 2.41 ERA in 60 career starts in Minute Maid Park and is 5-0 against the Astros going back to his years as a Detroit Tiger. You just know Houston’s bats will be eager to challenge the guy that carried their pitching staff over the past five years.
Check the probables as this series approaches and the MLB lines if/when Verlander is scheduled to go against his former team. Also, consider the fact that Houston swept four meetings between the teams in 2022 by a combined score of 24-6, with Verlander pitching a gem in the last of those encounters.
June 24-25: Cardinals vs Cubs in London
One of the game’s great rivalries heads to Jolly Old England for the first time since 2019 after COVID interrupted the event. Fans of the Cardinals and Cubs have been waiting since pre-pandemic times to jump over the pond, enjoy some high tea and catch their beloved teams on the field…er…pitch of London Stadium.
This series began with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees playing a pair of games in 2019, and it was a smashing success, quite literally. The teams combined for 30 runs in the first game and 20 more in the second – both won by the Yankees. The series offered up a wonderful blend of American and English cultures.
St. Louis and Chicago were the scheduled participants prior to the 2020 onset of COVID. There are planned series in 2023, 2024, and 2026.
August 28-30: Rangers vs Mets
Verlander’s signing in New York came days after the Mets lost ace Jacob deGrom to Texas. The oft-injured but always dominant right-hander had inked a deal with the Rangers for a five-year, $185 million deal.
It will be interesting to see what kind of reception deGrom will get when he pitches (if he’s lined up) against the organization that drafted him 12 years ago. He won a Rookie of the Year and two Cy Youngs in a Mets uniform but managed to make only 38 appearances over his final three seasons. There are likely a few die-hards in New York that were tired of waiting for him to get healthy over the past few years and will give deGrom a good old Bronx…er…Queens’ cheer.