Early Season Pitching Treat in Arlington on Wednesday

Mark Lathrop

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 2:34 PM UTC

Wednesday, Apr. 5, 2017 2:34 PM UTC

Our expert baseball handicapper, Mark Lathrop, likes what he sees in this matchup between the Indians and Rangers on Wednesday night. Read on as he describes the angle to follow if you are to place a wager on this game.

2017 MLB Record, 1-3, -2.30 Units,

2016 MLB Record, 55-40-2, +12.00 Units, 10.22% ROI

Cleveland Indians vs Texas Rangers

The expected team-to-beat in the AL Central finishes up their opening series of the 2017 season against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night, as the Cleveland Indians bring starter, Danny Salazar, to the mound. The Rangers counter with Cole Hamels, who will of course be making his first start of the season after a successful 2016 campaign with Texas. The odds makers expect a very tight matchup, with the money line at nearly even money across the board. Only a few books have a slight lean towards Cleveland, with BetOnline shading the Tribe at -109 on the moneyline. The O/U total has opened at 8.5 runs with some books shading the Over with the juice.

Danny Salazar features one of the best changeups in the big leagues, and the metrics available prove that is second in effectiveness only behind Zack Greinke. With a fastball that sits comfortably in the mid-90’s, a changeup with movement that averages 85 mph is going to work most of the time. Salazar’s issue hasn’t been his pitching, it has been his health. He lost most of September last year and the postseason run of Cleveland as a result. He’s healthy now though, even if he only put up a 4.85 ERA and 1.42 WHIP over 26 spring training innings. The time for tinkering is over for Danny on Wednesday night.

With the Ranger’s Cole Hamels, they have a starter that has shown amazing consistency over his career. Finishing with an ERA under 4 in 9 of his 11 MLB seasons, Hamels finished 2016 with a 15-5 record for the Rangers and a 3.32 ERA. His best month was nearly April last year, where he put up a 2.52 ERA. It wasn’t until the playoffs that Hamels showed any struggles at all, posting a 5.86 ERA in September and October.

Hamels was so effective against left-handers at home last year that eventually he rarely saw them. He only allowed a .159 BAA against lefties in Texas over 18.1 innings pitched. Cleveland’s Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis are likely to be missing from the lineup or assured really bad days at the plate. Given that it is this early in the season they definitely don’t need the rest, so they may get the start anyway against Hamels.

The Rangers will dearly miss Adrian Beltre in this game. In addition to his stellar and timeless defense, Beltre destroyed Danny Salazar on a regular basis. He owns a .750 career batting average over the lefty. Other Ranger batters have had limited success against Salazar, but nothing really comes close to what Adrian Beltre did.

With Beltre out of the lineup, and Hamels history of dominance early in seasons past I like the value that the Under presents in this spot. I’m taking the Under of 8.5 +108 at Pinnacle as my pick for this game on Wednesday evening.

Free MLB Pick: Under 8.5Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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