Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals (2:10 ET)
The posted total at 5 Dimes is 7½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -105.
The Royals have taken the first two games of this series in a couple of high scoring affairs, but a combination of the pitching matchup today and forecasted temperatures in the 30s should result in a much lower scoring affair on Thursday.
Ervin Santana was once considered an ace type when he pitched for the Los Angeles Angels, but he slipped badly in the last couple of years and he was mostly brutal in his final year with the Halos last season while going 9-13 but posting a 5.13 ERA, mainly due to allowing an ungodly 39 home runs in 178 innings!
However, Santana seems to have gotten a new lease on life in his first season in Kansas City. Yes, he was typical Santana in his Royals’ debut, allowing three home runs in six innings of a 5-2 loss vs. the Chicago White Sox, but he has sparkled since then, allowing only four earned runs in 30 innings over his last four starts with 23 strikeouts against only four walks, and most importantly he has allowed only one home run since his Kansas City debut.
Add it all up and Santana is 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with the league hitting .235 off of him, and furthermore he now gets to face a Tampa Bay offense that is batting a dismal .226 vs. right-handed pitchers this season including .219 on the road.
The Rays counter with Roberto Hernandez, who if you don’t know used to be known as Fausto Carmona. Carmona/Hernandez has never been the same since going 19-8 for the Cleveland Indians in 2007, and he is 1-4 with an ugly 5.28 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in his first season with the Rays. Believe it or not though, the news is not all dim.
You see, Hernandez does have a nice ratio of 30 strikeouts vs. 10 walks in 30.2 innings and he has a sneaky good xFIP of 3.42. If the park plays like it is expected to today in the frigid conditions, you may see Hernandez’s ERA regress toward his xFIP.
On top of all that, these teams have a history of playing low scoring games with the ‘under’ going 25-9-3 in the last 37 head-to-head meetings, so the first two slugfests in this series may have been anomalies.
MLB Pick: Rays, Royals ‘under’ 7½ (-105)
Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies (7:05 ET) – MLB Network regional
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 7½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -105.
Neither one of these offenses is tearing up the league right now and both starting pitchers seem capable enough given the competition, so runs may be hard to come by in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
The Phillies were just swept in a brief two-game interleague series by the Cleveland Indians on the road while scoring a grand total of two runs in the two games including getting shut out 6-0 last night, so they look to turn things around coming home tonight with Kyle Kendrick on the mound.
Kendrick has bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen throughout his Philadelphia career, but he has started exclusively thus far this year and with promising results. In fact he has now tossed four consecutive Quality Starts and he is coming off of one of the best starts of his entire career, a Complete Game three-hit shutout of the New York Mets last Friday where he needed only 107 pitches, thanks to issuing just one walk.
That leaves Kendrick at 2-1, but he probably deserves a better fate given his lack of run support, as he has a 2.41 ERA and 1.10 WHIP while yielding a .230 batting average, with a nice ratio of 24 strikeouts vs. eight walks.
Kendrick has also been brilliant vs. the Marlins throughout his career, allowing two runs or less in each of his last seven starts against them, and most of those outings came vs. better offenses than the Marlins possess this season as the Fish are batting a ghastly .224 as a team overall while averaging a depressing 2.82 runs per game.
Young Miami starter Alex Sanabia is having some growing pains, but when he has been good, he has been very good. You see, Sanabia has three Quality Starts out of five total starts over which he allowed only five runs in 18 innings. Unfortunately, he allowed 11 runs in 11 innings over his other two outings.
We expect to see the “good” Sanabia tonight though considering how quiet the Phillies’ bats have been the last few nights, and keep in mind that he did pitch well in one start vs. Philadelphia last September, allowing one run on six hits in six innings with five strikeouts and not one walk.
MLB Pick: Marlins, Phillies ‘under’ 7½ (-105)
Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays (7:07 ET)
The posted total at Bookmaker Sportsbook is 9 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -120.
This is another series where the first two games have been high scoring with the Blue Jays winning 9-7 and Boston prevailing 10-1, but we expect a much lower scoring affair in the rubber game of the series.
Ryan Dempster was signed by the Red Sox in an attempt to bolster the rotation, and he has done just that to this point. Do not let the 1-2 record fool you as Dempster has a good 3.30 ERA and 1.13 WHIP and he has allowed three runs or less in four of his five starts in a Boston uniform.
The most impressive part of Dempster’s first year with the Red Sox so far has been his strikeouts. He is coming off of an outing vs. the Houston Astros where he had 10 strikeouts in six innings, marking the second time in five starts that he struck out double-digits, and he now has an amazing 43 strikeouts in 30 innings against just 14 walks!
He now gets a chance to add to that strikeout total vs. a Toronto lineup that as struck out 228 times this season, which is fifth most in the American League. It also helps that Dempster has not faced the Blue Jays since 2003, so it is almost as if this is his first career start against them, which is usually to the pitcher’s advantage.
The Blue Jays are going with southpaw J.A. Happ, who is coming off of back-to-back Quality Starts vs. the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees respectively. Happ also already tossed a gem vs. these Red Sox this year back on April 6th, hurling 5.1 scoreless innings while allowing only one hit in a 5-0 Toronto victory right here at Rogers Centre.
Happ may have a rather ordinary 3.86 ERA, but that is skewed by one tough outing, which happens this early in the season, and he does have a good 1.25 WHIP and 24 strikeouts in 28 innings vs. 11 walks. He is facing a Boston lineup that has had its trouble with southpaws, batting only .239 vs. left-handed pitchers while averaging 3.97 runs per nine innings against them compared to a .286 average and 6.16 runs per nine innings vs. right-handers.
It is also interesting that Happ is holding opposing batters to just a .175 batting average here in Toronto as opposed to .254 on the road, so apparently pitching on artificial turf does not bother him one bit. Then again he is more of a strikeout pitcher than a groundball pitcher, so the surface really should not matter.
MLB Pick: Red Sox, Blue Jays ‘under’ 9 (-120)
Record: 0-0, +0.00
MLB Picks: Daily MLB Total Plays Thursday
Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals (2:10 ET)