Southpaws Duel In Surprise As Rangers Host ChiSox
A pair of lefties collide out in the desert when the Texas Rangers host the Chicago White Sox in a one o'clock contest at Surprise Stadium (4:05 PM ET). Chris Sale is scheduled for the visitors with Matt Harrison in line for the Rangers.
Texas is carrying -127 chalk at Pinnacle while Chicago backers are looking at a +113 take-back on the MLB odds board.
Both starting pitchers will lead off their respective rotations this season, Harrison this Sunday night at the Houston Astros when the 2013 MLB betting campaign officially gets underway and Sale next Monday in Chicago against the Kansas City Royals. Their final tune-ups are not expected to be long ones with Sale on the hill three innings tops and Harrison no more than four.
Sale's biggest trouble in spring training has been the long ball. The 13th overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft has surrendered four homers in 19.1 innings after allowing 19 in over 190 frames last year. Between now and his Opening Day start, Sale will no doubt be focused on his alma mater, Florida Gulf Coast University, in the Sweet 16 of this year's NCAA Tournament.
Harrison has yet to give up a big fly, and also has not issued any walks in official spring outings. The North Carolina native led Rangers starters last season with 18 wins and a 3.29 ERA.
A few clouds are in the Surprise forecast this afternoon, but no rain is expected and the thermometer should rise into the mid-80s. Derek Lowe is on the list of Texas relievers, which doesn't give me a warm, fuzzy feeling, but I'll add the Rangers to my evening's sports picks, despite seeing Lowe on deck.
Sabathia & Yanks Host Astros
Another lefthander getting in his final work before Opening Day is CC Sabathia who will be on the mound this evening at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Sabathia faces the Houston Astros and Brad Peacock in the 7 PM (ET) matchup.
New York is drawing -148 on the MLB moneyline; Houston is priced as the +131 underdog.
The Yankees are battered and bruised with Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson each expected to miss at least the first month of the regular season, and captain Derek Jeter doubtful for the first week. They added Vernon Wells over the weekend in a trade from the Angels in hopes of augmenting the offense.
Sabathia is making just his second official start of the spring, though the big southpaw has been working on the side and in minor league games along the way. His most recent trip to the bump came last Wednesday against New York's Triple-A club, and Sabathia got in six innings (92 pitches) while allowing just one run and striking out six.
Peacock is making his final audition for the 4-slot in Houston rotation, and a good effort vs. the Yanks certainly wouldn't hurt his chances. He has 14 K's in 14.2 IP thus far with a 3.68 ERA in two starts and four long relief outings.
It's going to be a brisk day in Tampa with temps in the low-50s at game time and a nice 12-15 mph NW breeze (LF corner to RF corner). I'm on the dog in this fight with a play on Houston.
Cubs & Reds Pit Opening Day Starters In Late Contest
Sticking with our Opening Day pitcher theme, the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds will have their top hurlers on the hill this evening in the next-to-last game at HoHoKam Park. Johnny Cueto is slated for the visiting Reds and Jeff Samardzija is on tap for the Cubs.
Chicago is going off as slight -115 chalk and Cincy backers are getting +102 at Pinnacle.
Cueto didn't make it through the second inning of his last appearance when the Oakland A's beat him up for five runs last Thursday. It hasn't been a good spring overall for either Cueto or the Reds who have dropped their last three coming into this one. Samardzija has produced mostly good results in his five spring starts and is coming off a 6-IP, 3-ER performance last Thursday against the Seattle Mariners.
The Cubs will have most of their regulars in at the beginning of this contest, giving Cueto a great opportunity to get himself into form for next Monday's outing vs. the Angels. Let's fade the Reds with a play on the Cubs.
My Free MLB Picks: Rangers -127, Astros +131, Cubs -115Preseason: 12-13 (-$2.08)