Astros Travel To Take On Nationals
The worst and best records in the National League a year ago collide for a Grapefruit League contest as the Houston Astros travel to Space Coast Stadium for a 1 PM (ET) start vs. the Washington Nationals. Opening moneylines on the game had the Nats -165 chalk with the take-back on Houston at +145.
My colleague Ron Patrick said it best with his Picks of the Day on Monday when he noted these exhibition games are crapshoots, with bettors having to live with game management that won't be used in the regular season. About all we know at this point is Lucas Harrell is scheduled to start for the Astros opposite Dan Haren for the Nats, and the weatherman is calling for a lovely afternoon in Melbourne, FL where the high is supposed to top out at 77ºF under a sunny sky.
Harrell treks to the hill for the fourth time this spring and is among the very few players who seem guaranteed a spot on Houston's roster. A waiver pickup in 2011 from the Chicago White Sox, Harrell posted a very respectable 11-11 personal record in 32 starts last season, the Astros 14-18 in his outings. He's off to a decent go this spring and manager Bo Porter is likely to stretch him out to 60+ pitches in this outing.
We don't expect Davey Johnson to go near as long with the veteran Haren who is making just his second start of the spring. And besides, playing a -165 line in an exhibition game is no fun at all. Maybe it's my lifetime love affair with the Astros talking, but Houston +145 will be my free pick on the contest.
Moore Makes First Spring Start When Rays Meet Twins
Across the Florida peninsula and south a bit in Fort Myers, it's going to be a bit cooler on Tuesday when the Minnesota Twins host the Tampa Bay Rays. First pitch is a bit past one for the matchup that finds Matt Moore on the mound for the visitors while Liam Hendriks toes the rubber for the Twins.
The high is only expected to reach the low-to-mid 60s for this one, though once again under clear skies. Minnesota opened -115 according to the live MLB odds at SBR.
Moore is making his second appearance and first start of the spring. A relief appearance last week was ugly as five batters reached, two of them scoring, while the southpaw coaxed four outs facing the Detroit Tigers. Hendriks, meanwhile, is having to really prove himself this spring in order to make Twins' starting rotation, and so far the returns are good.
Hendriks just watched his top competition for a spot in Minnesota's order, Cole De Vries, toss two shutout innings in a Monday win and will want to make his own statement while Moore probably tinkers a bit in his initial spring training start. Twins -115 is the pick.
Dodgers Send Ace Kershaw Against Padres
Here's another tossup on Tuesday's MLB betting card as the San Diego Padres (-115) host the Los Angeles Dodgers (-105) for a 3:05 (ET) first pitch. The fact they're NL West rivals makes it a bit more intriguing, not to mention this could be the best price of the season on LA's Clayton Kershaw for a start.
Kershaw has posted some screwy numbers in his two previous starts. Five innings of work have resulted in 10 strikeouts, which is very good, but batters are also swatting 10 hits against the left-hander, which is very bad. Jason Marquis, scheduled to start for the Pads, has been on the bump just once this spring with a strong two innings against mostly Royals regulars last week.
The Dodgers' MLB site reports there's a good chance that Ted Lilly could throw in relief of Kershaw tomorrow. Lilly has made just one appearance after having shoulder surgery last year, and I'm not too fond of that news since he could screw up a good three innings, maybe four, by Kershaw. It's going to be warm in the Phoenix suburbs Tuesday and what I really like is a lot of runs. The underdog Dodgers are added to my MLB picks at -105.
My MLB picks: Astros +145, Twins -115, Dodgers -105