MLB Picks: Phillies vs. Rangers Series Coverage

Willie Bee

Monday, March 31, 2014 12:34 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 31, 2014 12:34 PM UTC

The Phillies and Rangers take their season opening series to a rubber game Wednesday in Texas.  MLB odds heavily favor the Rangers, but is that where our handicapper found value?


2nd April
Philles vs. Rangers Game 3

By: Willie Bee


The series in Texas between the Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies has so far produced a slugfest in Game 1, then a low-scoring, walk-off winner in Game 2.  So, what's in store for the finale of the set Wednesday night?

ESPN2 will be on hand to broadcast the third and final contest of this series beginning at 8 PM (ET).  Philadelphia sends righthander Kyle Kendrick to the bump at Globe Life Park while Texas counters with lefty Robbie Ross.

The first two matchups featured tight moneylines on the MLB odds, but that's not the case for Game 3.  Texas opened -160, the number creeping up to -165 to -170 overnight.  Scoreboard bettors are faced with a decision on a 9.5 run total that favors the 'under.'


Kendrick Hopes Fine Spring Follows Him Into Regular Season
It was a tale of two seasons for Kendrick a year ago when he posted a 10-13 mark -- Phillies 15-15 -- in 30 starts to go with a 4.70 ERA.  The former 7th-round pick out of Mount Vernon High School in Washington enjoyed a fine first half with a 3.68 ERA, but slumped from that point on with a 6.91 mark over his final 11 starts.

Kendrick did have a fine spring, however, and some of that might be due to adding a fourth pitch to his arsenal.  We'll see how much he trusts his new Uncle Charlie against this Rangers lineup, but it worked well enough to help Kendrick to a 2.81 ERA in 16 spring innings.

Wednesday marks Kendrick's career debut vs. the Rangers who were 59-53 last season against righties, a level 10-10 in interleague play.  The Texas native made two starts against AL clubs in 2013, both at home, and split the decisions while allowing seven earned runs in 11.2 innings.


Ross Making Move From Bullpen To Rotation
We mentioned all the injuries Texas has endured recently to its starting pitchers in Monday's preview, and that is one reason Ross begins 2014 in Ron Washington's rotation instead of the bullpen.  But the husky southpaw out of Lexington, KY was groomed as a starter in the minors after the Rangers selected him in the 2nd-round of the 2008 draft, so this isn't virgin territory for Ross.

Ross spent the past two seasons serving as the lefty specialist for Texas, and proved he could master MLB hitters with a 2.62 ERA over 123 appearances and 127 innings.  He has been especially effective at home during his brief big league career, holding opposing batters to a .223 average in Arlington and only serving up three homers in what is a notoriously friendly park for sluggers.  Left-handed hitters have actually fared better against Ross that righties, something to watch as this season progresses. 

There is a 30% chance of showers this evening in Arlington, along with continued 15-20 mph winds from the south.  Marvin Hudson is slated to work the plate for the umpire crew, and the Georgia native was 22-13 O/U in 2013. 

Three days into the 2014 campaign seems like a good time to finally play the run line, and that's where my free MLB pick will be in this one. 

My pick: Rangers -1.5 (+115)



1st April
Philles vs. Rangers Game 2

By: Willie Bee


It was an anomaly both ways.  On one hand, it was difficult to believe the Philadelphia Phillies scored 14 runs in one game after ranking near the bottom of Major League Baseball in 2013 plating but 3.77 per game.  At the same time, it was also far-fetched to think the Phils might blow an early six-zip lead with ace Cliff Lee on the hill. 

That was yesterday, and today the slate is clean again for the Rangers and Phillies when they continue their 3-game set in Texas with an 8:05 p.m. (ET) first pitch.  AJ Burnett makes his first start for Philadelphia against lefty Martín Perez for the home side, and the MLB betting marks started the Rangers -125 with 8.5 for a total. 

A quick check of SBR's live baseball odds early Tuesday morning shows Texas sitting in the -133 to -140 range with the 8.5 run total pretty evenly split high and low.


Lee Allows 8 On Monday, Comes Away A Winner
Offense was the big story in Monday's series opener; following a scoreless 1st-inning, the Phils exploded for six in the second, but just as quickly fell behind, 7-6, after the third.  Marlon Byrd's 2-out solo shot in the sixth ignited a 4-run inning for Philadelphia to put the Rangers away.

Now we get to see if Burnett and Perez can stifle the bats, or if we're headed towards another high-octane game for the hitters.

Burnett signed with the Phillies after a couple of successful seasons in Pittsburgh, anchoring the staff last year when the Pirates broke a 20-year stretch of losing baseball.  The 37-year-old got knocked around a bit in five spring starts (6.05 ERA, 19.1 IP), and the Rangers also got to him for five runs last September when he pitched in Texas, though Pirate hitters put up enough offense for Burnett to get the win. 

Perez could be a huge key to Texas' chances of cashing as an 8/1 pick to win the AL pennant on the MLB futures odds.  With Yu Darvish and Derek Holland sidelined by injuries, the little southpaw becomes the top arm left from last year's rotation.  The Rangers were 2-2 in his four interleague starts a season ago, Perez sporting a 3.37 ERA in those 24 innings.


Umpire, Mother Nature & A Free MLB Pick
Doug Eddings, entering his 14th full season working MLB games, is scheduled to work the plate for Game 2 of this series.  He's coming off a 2013 campaign in which is favored the 'over' (19-14 O/U), the totals splitting in his two home-plate assignments in Texas in 2013. 

Another windy and muggy day is expected in the D-FW metroplex on Tuesday, with the thermometer in the upper-70s for the first pitch.

I'm not expecting another 24-run explosion tonight in Arlington, but do like enough runs to get the game past the total.  Add the high side of the number to my list of free MLB picks. 

My pick: Phillies-Rangers Over 8.5 (-110)

Season: 1-1 (-0.05)



31st March
Philles vs. Rangers Game 1

By: Willie Bee


If things had worked out differently, Cliff Lee might be the Opening Day pitcher for the Rangers on Monday in Texas.  Instead, the southpaw is facing his former team as the ace of the Philadelphia Phillies staff.

Texas and Philadelphia begin their 2014 seasons with an interleague matinee in Arlington, first pitch at renamed Globe Life Park set for 2:05 PM (ET).  We'll follow this series from start to finish, and it was Lee and the Phillies going out -115 against Tanner Scheppers and the Rangers.  That moneyline has since dropped at a few shops, some of them even calling this a pick 'em.

The total started at 8 on SBR's live MLB odds, with early action driving up the juice on the 'under.' 

It's just the fourth time the Phils and Rangers have hooked up for a regular season series, Philadelphia owning a 6-3 edge in the previous nine games.  Ron Washington's club is 2-1 in the only matchup in Texas, 'over' bettors also cashing at the same clip.


Aging Phillies Begin 1st-Year Under Sandberg
The Phillies are picked third in the NL East as 10/1 choices to win the NL East, and only fetching a 76.5 win total on the MLB futures odds.  Philadelphia didn't reach that number a year ago, and considering the injury concerns for this veteran group, Ryne Sandberg is facing a true test in his first full season as manager.

Sandberg took over in an interim role for Charlie Manuel last August and guided the Phillies to a 22-20 record the rest of the way following a 53-67 start.  The Hall of Fame second baseman is also already dealing with his first clash with a player after a run-in with shortstop Jimmy Rollins in spring training. 

Rollins is part of a veteran core that has experienced its fair share of injuries recently, joining Ryan Howard and Chase Utley from the right side of the infield in that group.  Rollins' health problems actually seem well behind him; unfortunately, so was his bat in 2013 when he hit .252 with 6 HR and 39 RBI in 160 games. 

The veteran Lee was part of a 2010 playoff run with the Rangers that ultimately made it to the World Series before falling to the Giants in five games.  Traded from the Mariners to Texas in July that season, he went 3-2 in eight regular season starts at home for the Rangers with a 2.92 ERA.  Masterful in the AL playoffs, he ran out of his postseason magic against San Francisco with a pair of losses.


Rangers' Pitching Staff Gets Off To Unhealthy Start To Season
Texas tried to re-sign Lee, but he chose to return to Philly instead, and the Rangers could really use him now after seeing their pitching staff break down during spring training after experiencing the same last season.  The fact Scheppers is starting this game -- instead of Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, heck, even Martín Perez who is coming off a fine '13 -- should tell you something about how Texas' luck has been running. 

Scheppers is coming off a pretty good campaign out of the Rangers' bullpen, posting a 1.88 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 76 appearances.  The former 1st-round pick out of Fresno State in '09 also had a decent spring, but is still building arm strength after pitching in relief most of his professional career.

The mound isn't the only place Texas is dealing with injuries as 2B Jurickson Profar is going to miss the first three months with a bum right shoulder.  The good news is the two big offseason acquisitions, Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, are healthy and ready to lend support to Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios in the lineup. 

Warm and cloudy is the forecast this afternoon in Arlington, with pretty stout winds out of the south (15-20 mph).  I'm going to ride the home team in this Opening Day contest with a free baseball pick on Texas. 

My pick: Rangers -105
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