MLB Picks Today; Seoul Series, Dodgers vs Padres Odds, Best Bets, Wednesday, March 20

My daily picks on the first game of the regular season between the Dodgers and the Padres

Yu Darvish
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 23: Yu Darvish #11 of the San Diego Padres prepares to throw a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fourth inning in game five of the National League Championship Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 23, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Welcome back. I missed you, and I missed baseball.

We get a taste of the MLB season before Opening Day. The Dodgers and Padres start a two-game set in Seoul, Korea. They’ll both begin at 6:05 AM EST on Wednesday and Thursday, so if you sleep in, you’ll miss it!

This pick is only available on BetMGM. Code “JustBaseball” for a first bet offer up to $1500.

Here’s an article about the international series.

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2024 Record: 0-0

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres @ 6:05 AM EST

Pitching Matchup: Tyler Glasnow vs Yu Darvish

The Gocheok Sky Dome is the ballpark where the Dodgers and Padres will play the Seoul Series. Our friends at Ballparkpal broke down what the park looks like and how we can factor that into our handicap.

The stadium is fully indoors and measures 325’ down the lines and 400’ to CF, both a bit shorter than MLB’s average. The gaps are deeper due to the circular outfield. The fence is 12 feet tall all the way around, which is about 4 feet higher than the MLB standard. The field is artificial turf, which may cause it to play faster.

The best MLB comparison for this stadium is the Rogers Centre in Toronto before they moved the fences back. That park ranked 11th out of 30 ballparks in baseball savant’s park factor. Other stadiums with the same park factor are Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago and PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Overall, it plays slightly towards the hitters, but not by much.

While most international games have been slugfests, they’ve been played in much friendlier hitting environments during the middle of the season. This is the season’s first game; the arms will be fresh, and I expect the bats to be slow.

These two teams have been playing exhibition games against teams from Korea. The scores for the Dodgers games were 14-3 and 5-2. The Padres also played two games, with the first ending 1-0 and the second ending 5-4. Even against KBO pitching, the offenses have yet to explode outside the Dodgers’ first game. A quick transition from KBO to MLB pitching should lead to more of a low-scoring game.

Tyler Glasnow will get the ball for the Dodgers, a pitcher the Padres have little experience against. Xander Bogaerts is the only starter who has faced him, and it hasn’t gone well (2-12 with 3 K’s). I can’t imagine how hard it would be to face Glasnow for the first time. His 6’8 frame while being in the 99th percentile of extension, shoving 100 MPH fastballs with disgusting breaking balls. There is a reason the Dodgers gave Glasnow the ball on Opening Day: he’s one of the best pitchers alive.

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Glasnow is also a right-handed pitcher, who the 2023 Padres struggled against. The Padres had a .808 OPS against lefties last season but a .717 OPS against righties. Juan Soto, the best hitter in their lineup against righties last year, is now a New York Yankee. A fresh Tyler Glasnow should have his way with this Padres lineup.

Yu Darvish gets the ball for San Diego. He’s been around for years and has regularly handled the Dodgers with ease. He’s recorded 214 PA against this Dodgers current roster, who has posted a .197 batting average against Darvish. The quality of contact against Darvish isn’t good for LAD, putting up a .279 xwOBA and a .342 xSLG. To put that in perspective, Javier Baez put up a .279 xwOBA with a .355 xSLG last season.

He’s also recorded a 26.6% strikeout rate against the Dodgers’ current roster, so if he needs to get to the punch-out, he’s proven he can do it against this high-powered offense. Players like Mookie Betts, Will Smith, Max Muncy, Jason Heyward, Miguel Rojas, and Chris Taylor are all hitting .226 or lower against Darvish in their careers.

While Darvish is undoubtedly getting up in age, he shoved against the Dodgers twice last season. He threw 13.2 IP while allowing nine hits and four earned runs. Since 2021, in starts made by Yu Darvish against the Dodgers, the under 9 is 10-1-1. The lone over came last season when the Dodgers scored nine runs in the last three innings.

Darvish was asked about his goals for the season back in February. His response, “Right now, the goal is to be ready by Korea,” Darvish said through interpreter Shingo Horie. “I’m aiming so that I’m ready by the time we get there.”

Both Glasnow and Darvish are coming off excellent Spring Training. Glasnow pitched to a 0.90 ERA in 10 IP with 14 Ks, and Darvish has thrown 9.1 IP with 10 Ks and a 2.89 ERA. Both are healthy, fresh, and ready to go.

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These are also two elite defenses. The Dodgers finished third last year in DRS, while the Padres ranked fifth. We need outfielders with range to close the big gaps in the stadium. The Dodgers outfield trio of Jason Heyward (91st percentile in OAA), James Outman (94th percentile), and Teoscar Hernandez (57th percentile) should be able to cover ground. The Padres’ trio of Fernando Tatis Jr (94th percentile), Jackson Merrill (rookie with speed), and Jurickson Profar (1st percentile) are definitely worse, but good enough where I don’t see it being a big issue. Except for Profar, he could be a problem.

The Dodgers bullpen is a top-five projected unit by fWAR and is still one of the best bullpens in the game. The Padres bullpen falls to 25th, but I disagree, especially when they are fresh. The A-Team after Darvish should look like Robert Suarez (3.23 xERA), Yuki Matsui (1.57 ERA in NPB), Wandy Peralta (4.70 xERA), Tom Cosgrove (2.67 xERA) Enyel De Los Santos (4.18 xERA), and Woo-Suk-Go (3.68 ERA in KBO). All six pitchers are solid arms with which the Padres can mix and match.

On Opening Day, we often see hitters who need to be in rhythm. We also have fresh pitchers, and in game one, I expect to see the best each bullpen has. I made this line 8.5 (-110), so I went with the under on BetMGM. They are the only book showing a nine, a key number in baseball. They have to score ten to lose, which I don’t see happening.

The Pick: Under 9 Runs (-120) Risk 1.2 Units

ICYMI: Here are the links to my MLB Futures