Rays & Tigers Meet In Grapefruit League Clash
The Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays are each enjoying success this spring training and sit among the top 5 clubs to win the American League pennant according to the latest MLB futures odds at The Greek. They bring the second and third best records, respectively, into today's matchup at the Tigers' home in Lakeland where a couple of pitchers expected to play a big role in getting their team into the playoffs will meet.
Tampa Bay is sending Jeremy Hellickson to the hill for the 1:05 PM (ET) start at Joker Marchant Stadium. He'll be opposed by Detroit's Doug Fister, and the morning 10-cent line at 5Dimes lists the Tigers as -123 chalk.
The Rays enjoyed a day off on Monday after dropping consecutive games to the Red Sox over the weekend. Their 13-9 record ranks third in the Grapefruit standings, but Joe Maddon's club has been slumping a bit lately with five setbacks in the last seven trips to the diamond.
Hellickson is making his fourth spring appearance, and second start, and enters this contest with a 5.40 spring ERA. The righthander is coming off a 10-11, 3.10 campaign a year ago.
Fister has had his share of trouble in three spring assignments along with a relief outing. Eleven exhibition frames have so far yielded an 8.18 ERA with three balls leaving the yard. Manager Jim Leyland is reportedly going to also use Kyle Lobstein, Luke Putkonen, Darin Downs and Phil Coke in relief of Fister today.
A warm, muggy day is in the forecast that calls for increasing rain chances as the afternoon progresses. Tampa's bats have been quiet of late, so I'm going to make my free pick on the Tigers.
Cactus League Pick 'Em When Brew Crew Hosts Halos
Ryan Braun is expected back in the lineup for the Milwaukee Brewers this afternoon when the Los Angeles Angels visit Maryvale Baseball Park for a Cactus League clash. The game went out as a pick on the overnight MLB odds, with the morning numbers at 5Dimes swinging ever so slightly in favor of the Halos at -107.
Milwaukee is slated to have Wily Peralta on the bump for the one o'clock local time start on the west side of Phoenix. The Angels counter with Jason Vargas.
Braun has taken some time off since rejoining the Brewers following his stint with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Getting his stick back in the mix should be a welcome site for manager Ron Roenicke whose squad is at the bottom of the list scoring just 69 runs in 20 exhibition games.
It's the fourth spring start for Vargas who checks in with a 4.66 ERA in 9.2 IP. Peralta is taking the mound for just the third time and checks in with a 6.23 ERA in 4.1 frames.
The visitors will be my play in this contest.
Giants, Mariners Cap Evening In Peoria
Barry Zito and the defending champs are slight underdogs when the San Francisco Giants travel to take on the Seattle Mariners in the only exhibition game that will be played under the lights on Tuesday. The streaking Mariners, winners of five straight, counter with Brandon Maurer on a -111 line at 5Dimes.
Seattle has been tearing the cover off the ball this spring with 150 plate crossings, tops on the exhibition circuit. The Mariners have clubbed 44 homers, six of those by Michael Morse who came over from the Nationals in a winter swap.
Maurer is still in the running for a spot in the Seattle rotation and having a fine spring with a 0.90 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 10 innings. Zito will once again hold down the fifth slot of Bruce Bochy's rotation and is also having a decent camp (3.38 ERA, 8 IP).
A clear, cool evening is forecast for Peoria, and I'm going to ride the hotter club with a play on the Mariners.
Preseason: 10-8 ($1.33)