The third month of the baseball season begins and it is time to look ahead at the betting odds from the sportsbooks by surveying some the more intriguing pitching matchups over the next few days.
Besides these conflicts we will take a look at one group of relief pitchers and how they are positively or negatively impacting their teams up to this point of the year. While we do not know what the betting odds will be at places like GTBets.eu, this will not stop us from looking at what might happen. Note – All pitchers are projected starters and subject to change.
Yankees vs. Mariners: Monday – Michael Pineda vs. Feliz Hernandez
An intriguing evening for Michael Pineda (6-2, 3.36 ERA), who for the first time will face Seattle, the team who traded him away. The right-hander has been touch more inconsistent in his last three starts but his general skill and command is sensational with 67 strikeouts and only five walks. Watch for if he can keep emotions in check facing the Mariners for the first time.
Even with his past, what Felix Hernandez (8-1, 1.91) is doing this year is off the charts. King Felix was in a brilliant duel with Chris Archer last week tied 0-0 after eight innings. After Nelson Cruz hit a three-run bomb in the ninth, Hernandez penned his four-hit, 8 K’s masterpiece by going the distance. He's allowed one run or fewer in six starts and he will receive ample support for MLB picks in this matchup.
Rays vs. Angels: Tuesday – Chris Archer vs. C.J. Wilson
As mentioned, Archer (5-4. 2.12) matched pitches with the King last week and was technically even more dominant, in conceding only two hits with 12 punch-outs and no walks. Once his replacement Bruce Boxberger got in trouble in the ninth, Archer started pacing the dugout, wishing he could have finished the ninth inning. Though Tampa Bay lost, it did nothing to diminish how domineering the right-hander was and on the season opposing batters are .192 against him.
C.J. Wilson is pitching like he always does with a 3-3 record and 3.18 ERA. He will string together a few good starts and just when baseball handicappers think he can be trusted, the left-hander will get bombed for a start or two and the whole process starts over. Wilson this season is at his best in pitches 31-60 as opponents hit only .216 in that period. Halos probably -130 or less favorites here.
White Sox vs. Rangers: Wednesday – Chris Sale vs. Nick Martinez
After a bumpy late April into May, Chris Sale (4-2, 3.36) is back to discounting hitters. Sale in his past four starts has thrown 31 2/3 innings, given up six earned runs, striking out 40 and doling out only four free passes. On the year he’s allowed a .228 batting average, but once he’s passed the cleanup hitter, the next five hitters are a collective .190, with a grand total of five extra base hits.
The Texas Rangers needed a boost with the starting pitcher injuries and Nick Martinez (4-1, 2.03) has been the guy to step up. Texas has won eight of his 10 starts in which he’s not allowed more than three earned runs in any of them. The only real concern for this game and the rest of the season is though he does not strikeout many hitters lacking overpowering pitches, his K/W ratio is less than 2-1. Texas figures to be a -120 or lower favorite.
Cardinals vs. Dodgers: Thursday – Michael Wacha vs. Carlos Frias
The Los Angeles Dodgers handed Michael Wacha (7-1, 2.27) his first loss of the season in his last start (the Cardinals first in Wacha’s previous 12 outings) and will go after two in a row at home. In that game it was the first time the Cards right-hander walked as many as three batters this season and he surrendered just his fifth home run all season. Wacha actually has thrown better on the road with a 1.64 ERA.
It would seem it had to be a huge mental boost for Carlos Frias (4-2, 4.29) to best Wacha and St. Louis on the road and he will look to duplicate that effort at home. Since being inserted into the rotation in May, Frias has hitters beating the ball into the ground averaging better than 10 per game in five starts. He’s had one terrible outing (10 runs, 12 hits in 4 innings) otherwise been serviceable. Because of the Dodgers home record they will be slight home faves in MLB odds most likely.
Bullpen of the Week: Houston Astros
To trot out an old saying, what a difference a year makes for the Houston Astros. The first place Astros are doing many things right with strong top of the rotation starters, home run power to have big innings, but quite possibly the most important aspect of their success in their completely different attitude and results from the bullpen. Last year Houston ranked dead last in pen ERA at 4.80, this season they are third at 2.28. In 2014 they blew 26 of 57 save opportunities and only Colorado had a worse percentage, thus far they have converted 19 of 24. This Astros bullpen is awesome in three areas which explain their success. Nobody, not even Kansas City, allows a lower batting average at .183, they do hurt themselves by conceding extra base runners, being first in fewest walks and not many opposing base runners advance when on the bases because they are third in strikeouts. This is a huge reason the ‘Stros turnaround season.