The MLB offseason was long and at times uneventful, but opening day is finally here. Part of the opening day slate includes a game that sees the St. Louis Cardinals visiting the New York Mets. Both teams were disappointed with how the 2017 season went and outside expectations aren’t particularly high for either club. However, internally, both the Mets and Cardinals feel ready to make some noise in 2018. For opening day, the New York Mets are -140 over the St. Louuis Cardinals.
The Cardinals haven’t been to the playoffs in either of the past two seasons, which for them is an epic drought. They bring back a similar lineup to last season except for shipping outfielders Randall Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty out of town and acquiring Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins.
The Mets also bring back a roster quite similar to the one they had a year ago. Their rotation was hit hard by injuries a year ago, but they’ll try their luck with the same group this year. The Mets also brought back Jay Bruce to help provide protection for Yoenis Cespedes. They’ve also brought in Todd Frazier and have high hopes for young shortstop Amed Rosario.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals plan to send 26-year old Carlos Martinez to the mound on opening day. After three straight outstanding seasons and two all-star selections, Martinez is undoubtedly the ace of the St. Louis pitching staff. He got the start on opening day last year and shut down the reigning world champion Cubs, tossing 7.1 scoreless innings and striking out 10. He’ll relish the opportunity to do that to the Mets on opening day this year.
That being said, the Mets had their way with Martinez when they saw him last July. Pitching in St. Louis, Martinez gave up five runs in five innings, taking the loss against the Mets. Jay Bruce doubled and homered against Martinez in that game, so he could be a threat to do some damage on Thursday as well. Cespedes, meanwhile, is 4 for 12 with a double and home run in his career against Martinez, so he figures to be a tough out as well.
New York Mets
Meanwhile, the Mets will give Noah Syndergaard the opening day start for the second straight year. Syndergaard threw six shutout innings on opening day last year, only to see his season derailed by injury. However, the 6’6’’ righty they call Thor had a brilliant spring and looks poised for a big season if he can stay healthy.
Moreover, the St. Louis roster is a combined 9 for 41 (.220) with 12 strikeouts against Syndergaard. The Cardinals have a formidable lineup with the likes of Ozuna, Matt Carpenter, Jedd Gyorko, Yadier Molina, Dexter Fowler, and Tommy Pham. But on his best day, Syndergaard is capable of shutting down just about any lineup in baseball.
Quick Out of the Gate
The edge on opening day goes to the Mets. Syndergaard was almost un-hittable during spring training, posting a 1.35 ERA over 20 innings, so he’s poised to hit the ground running. Also, the Mets are 35-15 on opening day over the last 50 years. For whatever reason, winning on opening day is New York’s specialty. Bet on the Mets winning on opening day 2018. Bet on the New York Mets -140 over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday.