MLB Free Game of the Day Betting Picks for 2024 Opening Day: Yankees-Astros

Annie Nader
Annie Nader@ANader33
MLB Free Game of the Day Betting Picks for 2024 Opening Day: Yankees-Astros

The lengthy MLB season can cause some games to get lost in the shuffle, but MLB.TV provides fans with a Free Game of the Day throughout the regular season that can also be seen on FanDuel TV+ here, or also available on Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, Fire TV, and FanDuel Sportsbook.

Why not add to the viewing excitement by getting in on the MLB odds over at FanDuel Sportsbook?

For this article, we've got you covered with a betting guide for each Free Game of the Day. With that, let's take a look at some of the best bets for Thursday's free game.

Note: Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All stats come from FanGraphs and Baseball Savant unless noted otherwise. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated projections.

MLB Betting Picks

Yankees vs. Astros Betting Odds: Spread, Total, and Moneyline

  • Spread: Astros -1.5 (+130)
  • Total: 8.5
  • Moneyline:
    • Yankees: +128
    • Astros: -152

Best Bet

Over 8.5 (-122)

The New York Yankees had a boisterous offseason.

The acquisition of three-time All-Star Juan Soto may be the ultimate talking point, but New York rounded out their depth by adding Alex Verdugo, Trent Grisham, and Marcus Stroman.

While the Yanks have high hopes for this season, we will not see their full pitching potential on Opening Day. Gerrit Cole (elbow), the reigning AL Cy Young winner, is expected to be out until late May.

Nestor Cortes will be on the bump for New York's season opener and is one of the main reasons I am targeting the over. Cortes had a splendid 2022 bid, but last year was not as fruitful.

In 2023, he posted a 4.97 ERA through 12 starts before his season was stopped short due to a rotator cuff strain. He didn't impress this past spring, either, letting up 12 ER through 16 IP.

While I have little to no interest in placing value in spring training numbers, a poor 2023 season capped off by an extended stay on the IL leads me to believe that Cortes will be vulnerable on Opening Day.

You can't be vulnerable against the Houston Astros' juggernaut lineup.

Cortes, a lefty, allowed a .343 weighted on-base average (wOBA) and a .474 slugging percentage (SLG) to right-handed bats last season, albeit through just 55 innings pitched.

Right-handed batters such as Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Jose Abreu could have their way with Cortes. Add in Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, who are lefties but nonetheless two of the best power hitters in the league, and I have faith that the Houston bats can keep up their end of the run total bargain.

Let's turn to Framber Valdez. He might not be the Opening Day pitcher that Houston fans wanted, but he's the one they will get.

Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers, Jose Urquidy, and Luis Garcia will all start the season on the injured list. Starting pitching depth doesn't get much thinner than that.

But even though Verlander would be the preferred Opening Day ace, Valdez isn't a bad backup option. Last season, he posted a 3.45 ERA (15th-best) and struck out 200 batters (T16th-most).

This is good and well, but is any pitcher safe against the three-headed New York monster that is Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Juan Soto?

Valdez will have to get crafty while also playing it safe with Judge, Stanton, and Soto. With New York's lineup also featuring Gleyber Torres, Anthony Rizzo, and Alex Verdugo, it looks like their batting order could be a total headache for pitchers this season.

Three players in this game (Alvarez, Judge, and Soto) currently have the fourth-shortest odds or better to become the 2024 RBI Leader. If Verlander and Cole were on the mound, perhaps this would be a different story, but I expect this Opening Day showdown to produce fireworks.

Best Props

Jose Altuve To Record A Run (-140)

If we're targeting the over, who better to tap as a run-scorer than Jose Altuve?

As Houston's leadoff hitter and one of the fastest players in the league, Altuve is always in a decent spot to hit home plate.

Last season, he recorded 76 runs despite playing just 90 games. He recorded a run in 59.3% of games where he received more than two plate appearances, so the 58.3% suggested probability on these -140 odds is up to snuff.

I like Altuve's chances to get on the basepaths, as Nestor Cortes allowed a .343 wOBA to righties last season. We could expect Cortes to be shaky in what will be his first regular-season start since last August.

Kyle Tucker To Hit A Double (+430)

We're getting granular here, but I like the value of this prop.

Kyle Tucker hit at least one double in 22.3% of his games last season. These +430 odds imply just an 18.9% probability and may not be giving Tucker's matchup enough credit.

As mentioned, Cortes is a left-handed pitcher who has all the fixings to be vulnerable on Opening Day.

Tucker smashes the ball against lefties. Last season, he posted a .567 SLG, .934 OPS, and 41.1% hard-hit rate versus this handedness.

He hit more doubles (37) than homers (29) last season, so I prefer him in this market as opposed to his +340 To Hit a Home Run odds.

I was tempted to target Jose Abreu (+420) in this market, as he also has a great matchup on deck. But Tucker is much more capable of converting long singles into doubles, making him the better candidate.

In 2023, Minute Maid Park was tied for the sixth-friendliest park for lefties to hit doubles.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.