MLB Betting Preview (March 20): Dodgers vs. Padres Seoul Series Opener

Major League Baseball continues to try to drum up global enthusiasm for its sport, this time offering its first regular-season games in South Korea, where the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres will open their seasons with a pair of games while the rest of MLB is wrapping up spring training.

First pitch of Wednesday’s Opening Day game is early for those on the East Coast and in the wee hours for everyone else in North America: 6:05 a.m. ET.

Bet on Dodgers vs. Padres

LAD -200
SD +165

The Dodgers have been baseball’s most-dominant regular-season team for nearly a decade though they thus far have only one World Series title to show for it. Their aggressive ownership group and highly analytical front office aren’t taking any chances this time, having agreed to pay more than $1 billion on contracts in the off-season, most notably for Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani. San Diego parted with one of the game’s biggest superstars in Juan Soto, but have also given off signs they plan on contending in 2024.

Dodgers vs. Padres odds

Dodgers Moneyline Odds-200
Padres Moneyline Odds+165
Over/Under8.5 runs (over -125, under +105)
RunlineDodgers -1.5 (-120), Padres +1.5 (+100)
Time/DateMarch 20, 6:05 a.m. ET
TVBroadcast: TSN4/5
Stream: NBA League Pass
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All odds courtesy of

About the Dodgers

The Dodgers had been scouting Ohtani heavily since his high school days, but it took them a decade and a creative $700 million contract to land him. Once they got the anchor of an already-stacked lineup in hand, they turned their attention to shoring up a starting rotation that had worn thin toward the end of 2023.

They were aggressive, both financially and in terms of spending prospect capital. They landed the top free agent starter, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who will pitch Thursday, for an additional $325 million, then traded for Tyler Glasnow for two prospects, including well-touted pitching prospect Ryan Pepiot. They didn’t stop there, signing veteran Canadian lefty James Paxton to a one-year, $7 million deal.

The Dodgers’ lineup is absolutely unrelenting. While Ohtani, Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts clearly are the driving forces – with all three of them ranking in the top four among MVP favourites – catcher Will Smith also can’t be ignored as one of the best-hitting catchers in the game. The Dodgers also added ex-Blue Jay Teoscar Hernández to lengthen their lineup and replace J.D. Martinez’s pop.

About the Padres

There’s no denying Soto’s departure for the Bronx leaves a massive hole in San Diego’s lineup, but this is not a team embarking on a rebuild. If that wasn’t clear before, it became rather obvious after the Padres traded three of their top 10 prospects and a reliever to the Chicago White Sox for Dylan Cease just hours before their team plane lifted off for Korea.

The Padres are banking heavily on Michael King boosting a rotation that lost Cy Young winner Blake Snell and that their rebuilt bullpen will make up for the loss of closer Josh Hader.

San Diego is trying to thread a tricky needle, contending now while improving their roster for the long haul. While the Padres might have the pitching depth to hang with talented rosters in L.A. and Arizona, their lineup is a major question, particularly an outfield that thins considerably beyond Fernando Tatis Jr.

Probable pitchers

Los Angeles: RHP Tyler Glasnow (last season: 10-7, 3.53 ERA, 12.2 K/9, 1.08 WHIP)

The Dodgers are hoping Glasnow is perfectly poised, at age 30, to finally demonstrate how good he can be when healthy. After being limited to fewer than 95 innings combined in 2021 and 2022, he managed 21 starts last year and proved to be one of baseball’s most effective strikeout pitchers.

Glasnow will be making his second Opening Day start, having also gotten the nod for Tampa Bay in 2021. He is among a new breed of pitchers who eschew their mid-90s fastballs in favour of a heavy dose of breaking balls. Glasnow threw his fastball just 44% of the time in 2023.

In his case, the reliance on off-speed stuff is understandable as his curveball-slider combination is among the nastiest in the sport. His breaking-ball run value ranked in the 94th percentile, per Statcast data.

When hitters got Glasnow, they typically did damage, as his average exit velocity was over 90 mph and ranked in the bottom 15th percentile. Then again, his whiff rate ranked in the 96th percentile. He’s the epitome of a 2024 starting pitcher: light on innings, but heavy on strikeouts.

San Diego: RHP Yu Darvish (last season: 8-10, 4.56 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 1.30 WHIP)

The Padres could have gone with Joe Musgrove here, but they elected to give Darvish his fourth Opening Day start and third as a Padre. Darvish was limited by injures in 2023, including being shut down in August due to a stress reaction in his right elbow, but he was cleared to resume throwing in November and looked sharp all spring.

He can be fun to watch because of his vast array of pitches, including a slider that he throws more than his fastball. At age 37, Darvish’s fastball is fairly pedestrian, averaging 94.5 mph last season, but he keeps hitters guessing with a five-pitch mix.


Gocheok Sky Dome offers indoor baseball, which is a good thing given a forecasted high of 9 C Wednesday in Seoul.

  • The Dodgers were favoured in 132 of their 162 games in 2023, winning 62.1% of those contests. The Padres were underdogs 41 times, winning 34.1% of those games.
  • The moneyline in this one suggests a 66.7% chance of a Dodgers’ win.
  • The Padres didn’t play a single game as longshots of this magnitude. Their highest odds in 2023 were +165.
  • Glasnow and the Rays were 14-8 against the spread when he pitched in 2023.
  • The Padres were 9-15 ATS when Darvish pitched last season. When he started as an underdog, San Diego went 2-3.
  • Mookie Betts helped erase the angst of a hitless 2023 postseason by batting .441 with a .681 slugging percentage in spring training games.
  • The Padres’ lineup looked sluggish all spring, with a .736 OPS that ranked 18th in MLB.

Wagers to consider

  • Given the power in these teams’ lineups, consider taking over 8.5 runs here, as Gocheok Sky Dome is intimate in more ways than one. It holds under 17,000 fans for baseball games and the lines only extend 325 feet to the corners while the centre field wall is 400 feet from home plate. Don’t expect these games to be as high-scoring as games were in Mexico City, but the cozy dimensions should make for a difficult pitching environment for two pitchers who tended to give up hard contact last season.
  • The Dodgers clearly have the better lineup and Glasnow’s raw stuff is better than Darvish’s at this point of their careers. Still, the long odds on San Diego are worth a long look. The Padres will be competitive if it becomes a bullpen game and, this early in the season, every game is a bullpen game. The Dodgers will win tons of games this season, but the randomness of baseball in general, particularly in these overseas showcases, means the value is on the underdog.