Jays & Tigers In Motown Matinee
It's never too early to discuss potential playoff previews, and at the very least, Tuesday's series opener in Detroit between the Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays is a crucial early season matchup.
First pitch is set for a little past 1 PM (ET) with Brandon Morrow scheduled for the visiting Jays against Detroit's Anibal Sanchez. The Tigers went out as -130 to -140 chalk on most MLB odds boards, but that number has been whittled to -113 on the nickel line at 5Dimes. The scoreboard tally is 8 and evenly priced high/low.
MLB futures odds had Toronto and Detroit just behind the Angels in the American League pecking order on Opening Day. The Blue Jays begin their first road tip of the season with a 2-4 mark while the Tigers continue their homestand at 3-3.
One early-season concern for Toronto has been RA Dickey who is off to an 0-2 start to the season after winning the NL Cy Young last year. The Jays have been outscored 17-1 in Dickey's assignments, but hold a 21-17 edge in the other four contests.
Morrow is coming off a solid season debut in which he limited the Indians to a run over six innings while striking out eight last Wednesday in Toronto. He'll be seeing the Tigers for the first time since May 2011, and making his first career start in Detroit.
Sanchez blanked the Twins in Minnesota for five innings last Wednesday and didn't figure into the decision that ultimately saw Detroit fall 3-2. He faced the Blue Jays twice last year, once with the Tigers and once as a Marlin, splitting the decisions with a 6.75 ERA.
Toronto is 26-21 all-time at Comerica, but the Tigers won all three at home last season and bring a 4-game win streak in the series into this game. The UNDER is a perfect 6-0 in the last six played in Detroit where there's a 60% chance of rain this afternoon. Both teams enjoyed Monday off so the bullpens should be at full strength. Let's follow that Comerica Park streak with a play on the low side of the total.
Dodgers Head South For Padres' Home Opener
The weather shouldn't cause any trouble in San Diego where the Padres play their home opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The mid-afternoon local start at Petco Park (6:40 PM ET) finds Josh Beckett on the mound for LA against Clayton Richard, and the Dodgers are listed as -140 favorites with a total in the 6.5 to 7 run range.
Both lineups have gotten off to slow starts with the clubs plating just 31 runs in their combined 12 games. The difference is Dodgers hurlers have allowed just 10 runs in pushing out to a 4-2 record while Padres pitchers let in 40 runs during a 1-5 road trip vs. the Mets and Rockies.
Both of today's starting pitchers had trouble keeping the ball in the park in their first assignments of 2013. Beckett surrendered two home runs to the Giants at Dodger Stadium, and Richard served up three gopher balls to the Mets at Citi Field. Beckett has produced good results over his career vs. San Diego, and is 2-2 with a 2.73 ERA in four career outings at Petco Park.
The Padres hold a slim 41-40 advantage over the Dodgers on this field, but LA has won 24 of last 36 in the series, including six of nine played in San Diego last season. I'm going to get behind the Dodgers with my free picks for this one.
Mariners Look To Extend Astros' Early Skid
No real analysis for my final free pick on Tuesday when the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners continue their 3-game set at Safeco Field. Until the Astros show signs of playing above the Triple-A level, I'll be fading Houston with a small play each and every game.
This might actually be one of the few times that backing the Astros makes sense as Erik Bedard takes the hill for Houston opposite Seattle rookie Brandon Maurer. Bedard pitched pretty well in this park while with the M's from 2008-2011 (3.20 ERA), and Maurer is coming off his MLB debut last week when he allowed six runs over six innings in a loss at Oakland.
But this will be a far less formidable lineup for Maurer to deal with, and trying to guess when the Astros will actually win a game is a losing proposition. We'll ride the Houston fade train again.
My picks: Blue Jays-Tigers Under 8 (-105), Dodgers -137, Mariners -145 at 5DimesSeason: 6-5 ($0.82)