MLB Pick: Pitchers' Duel To Open Mariners vs. Rangers Series

Jay Pryce

Monday, April 4, 2016 12:00 PM UTC

Monday, Apr. 4, 2016 12:00 PM UTC

A pair of aces are on display as Felix Hernandez and the Mariners travel to Texas to take on Cole Hamels and the Rangers on Opening Day. Get your pick and betting analysis on this AL West showdown.

Seattle Mariners - Felix Hernandez (18-9, 3.53*)
King Felix, the Mariners elite No. 1 for over a decade now, has made eight career Opening Day starts. Seattle has not only won each outing, but has covered the run line in every one as well, winning by a 3.6 run average. Tossing the first pitch at a -108 average closing line, he and the pen have yielded just 1.4 runs per game with no team scoring more than 3 in any contest; seven games have taken place away from the pitching-friendly confines of Safeco Field.

Can Hernandez keep his perfect start-to-the-season streak alive? He's baffled most of the current Rangers roster in the past, allowing a paltry .219 batting average (98/448) lifetime. Power hitters Prince Fielder (.080) and Josh Hamilton (.162) are sub-.200 hitters in their career. He'll likely need to quiet clean-up hitter Adrian Beltre to have a shot at a win, though. The veteran run producer went 0-fer in 45 games last season with Texas scoring 3.0 runs opposed to 5.5 when picking up a hit. The Rangers earned a victory in just 15 games when the third baseman went hitless. Beltre, who uses the entire field at the plate, almost exclusively pulls Hernandez's sinker-change-curve arsenal to the left side for a high number of outs. The four-time All Star is 11-for-46 (.239) lifetime against King Felix.

Speaking of run production, the Mariners generated very little last season. They ranked 20th in MLB with 4.05 per game. 2B Robinson Cano, hitting third in the lineup, is instrumental to Seattle's anemic offense. Since signing in 2014, the UNDER has struck 59 times to 20 OVERS when the fluid swinging lefty goes hitless in a game. The M's score just 3.3 runs in this situation; 3.7 on the road where the UNDER is 29-12. Although Cano is excellent at staying in on left-handed pitchers, Hamels has gotten the better of him over the years. The five-time Silver Slugger winner is just 3-for-20 (.150) with one extra base hit against the Ranger's ace.

Seattle revamped their lineup during the offseason, bringing in a host of new faces, including OF Nori Aoki (FA/Giants), 1B Adam Lind (trade/Brewers), C Chris Ianetta (FA/Angels) and CF Lenoys Martin (trade/Rangers). None of these strike fear in opposing pitchers, and many of their strengths are on defense. It could be another quite year at the plate for the Ms.


Texas Rangers - Cole Hamels (13-8, 3.65*)
The Rangers went 11-3 SU in games Cole Hamels started after picking up the veteran southpaw at the trade deadline last season. After getting roughed up for five earned runs in 7.2 innings in his first outing in Arlington, the Rangers won his final six efforts at home. The former World Series MVP put in a quality start in all but one.

Unlike Hernandez, Hamels has had a slow time getting going in his career. The Phillies went 1-7 SU in his first start to each season in April. Hamels made it through 5 innings just two times, and has allowed 3.5 earned runs per start on average. For what it's worth, he posted a 5.79 ERA in 9.1 innings in spring training.

Despite the Rangers winning the AL West, Seattle got the better of the division champs head-to-head last season, going 12-7 SU and 6-3 SU in Arlington. The only three games Texas won at home, it was chalk by -135 or more, losing the rest as a short-priced favorite or dog on MLB Odds.

Not much has changed with this team since last season. In addition to losing Martins to the Ms, Texas saw 1B Mike Napoli go to the Indians and RHP Yovani Gallardo leave. In are support players, OF Justin Ruggiano from the Dodgers and RHP Tom Wilhelmsen from the Martin trade.


Final Analysis
King Felix and the Mariners had the Rangers' number last season, but we're hesitant to jump on board the dog here even with Hamels' history of slow starts. Seattle didn't do much in the offseason, and the moves they made will help them while playing in their home run-prevention park. Hernandez is likely to be on his game, and with the likelihood the Mariners struggle to create runs, Under 7.5 is the MLB Pick on this game.

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Free MLB Pick:  Mariners Under 7½ +110
Best Line Offered:  at Pinnacle

* denotes 2015 records

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