Despite the loss of Bryce Harper, the Nationals still possess a very talented and capable roster. Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, and Ryan Zimmerman can more than replace Harper’s production as they lead this offence. From the pitching side, Ryan Scherzer and Stephen Strasbourg is one of the best 1-2 punches in the league.
New York Mets
The Mets had a solid conclusion to Spring Training, winning each of their last 3 games, including one against this Nationals side. Jeff McNeil was a consistent producer for this offence, as was star second-baseman Robinson Cano. After suffering a losing record last season, the Mets definitely have the talent and versatility to turn things around in 2019.
Prediction: Nationals to Win $1.75
For weeks the Nationals players have heard stories about how they’re finished without Bryce Harper. Especially in their first game of the year, I expect them to come out all guns blazing. With a quality pitcher in Scherzer on the mound, they look very strong value at $1.75.
Whilst the Bryce Harper acquisition was understandably all the rage, Philadelphia has quietly done a fantastic job to build a deep and versatile roster. Harper and Andrew McCutchen will be tasked with leading the offence this season, whilst players like Rhys Hoskins and Cesar Hernandez provide great defensive value. Huge things are expected of Philly this season and they’ll look to get off to a flyer.
The Braves come into 2019 off the back of a very solid 2018 season. They won an impressive 90 games and won their first division title in 5 years. They’ve had a very strong spring training run, winning 4 of their last 5 games. Whilst Philly is a tough test first up, they should definitely compete in the NL this season.
Prediction: Phillies to win $1.50
As with Washington, Harper and the Phillies have an absolute ton to prove this season. They’ll definitely face a ton of pressure in this one, but will have a talent edge and homecourt advantage. Especially with Aaron Nola on the mound, they’re still value at this short price.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays struggled somewhat as they finished spring training, losing 4 of their last 6 encounters. That said, with guys like Austin Meadows, Tommy Pham, and Carl Chester, they’ve got a strong offensive push. Likewise, a pitching staff led by Jake Snell can be expected to be very competitive most afternoons.
As one of the clear favourites for the World Series, there will be a ton of pressure on the Astros in this one. They had a very strong finish to spring training, warming up for the season with 4 wins in 5. Jose Altuve and Yuli Gurriel were among the runs and will need to continue that going forward for Houston to succeed this year.
Prediction: Astros to Win $1.70
Even at 36 years of age, Justin Verlander remains one of the premier pitchers in the MLB. In addition to Houston’s talent advantage on the field, I think Verlander can outduel his counterpart in this one. At a tasty $1.70, expect the 2017 champs to start strong here.