Let's get this Hump Day ball rolling with a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays who square off at McKechnie Field. 5Dimes posted early-morning lines with the visiting Toronto Blue Jays at -116 while offering +106 on the Bucs.
The Blue Jays are slated to send Mark Buehrle to the hill for his fourth try of the spring. He'll oppose Pittsburgh's James McDonald who will be out to extend the Pirates' current three game winning streak.
Approximately three weeks in front of his debut for the Blue Jays, Buehrle should begin to stretch things out with this start and go at least 3-4 innings. He has failed to make it more than two frames in his three assignments so far, and had some control issues last week vs. Baltimore when he issued three free passes in two innings.
McDonald also walked three in his last appearance, but that was over four innings against Tampa Bay while allowing just one hit and keeping the Rays off the scoreboard. The lanky Long Beach native had allowed three homers and four runs in his initial five spring innings, and should be on tap for 65-70 pitches, maybe a few more today.
The forecast calls for a few clouds and temps in the low-70s at game time, along with a 15 mph breeze from the north (in from left). Let's roll with the home dogs for our free pick in this matchup.
Veteran Arms Pair Off In Desert
Grab the sunscreen for today's Cactus League clash between the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants. First pitch at Goodyear Ballpark is set for 4 PM (ET) and the thermometer is expected to climb into the upper-80s during the contest with only a slight easterly zephyr from right field.
This NLDS rematch from last October features a couple of veterans on the bump with Barry Zito scheduled for the Giants opposite Bronson Arroyo for Cincinnati. The latest MLB odds at 5Dimes peg the Reds at -118 with a +108 offer on San Fran.
The Reds got off to a very sluggish start this spring but have strung together three straight wins coming into this contest. Rain canceled Arroyo's appearance last Friday, so today is just his second official spring outing meaning 2-3 innings at most. Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker is also going to take a look at Jonathan Broxton, expected to be the closer for the Reds, along with Jose Arredondo and Sean Marshall who are going to be providing the setup ahead of Broxton.
Zito seems a lock for San Francisco's No. 5 slot in the rotation as he makes his third trip to the mound. It's his first official appearance in 10 days.
For the second of our daily MLB picks, let's ride the Reds as small home favorites.
Pettitte Makes Spring Debut Vs. Phillies & Lee
Several games on today's slate will be under the lights, including the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees in Tampa at 7 PM (ET). The pitching matchup might leave you feeling you've stepped back in time a few years to the 2009 World Series as southpaws Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte get the nod for their respective teams.
The morning odds for this tilt are exactly the same as the Reds-Giants affair with the Yankees -118 at home and the Phils +108.
Two important debuts are the story for the Yankees as Pettitte makes his first appearance in a spring game while Derek Jeter will play in the field for the Yankees for the first time since his broken ankle last October. Two innings are all that we expect to see Pettitte and it's doubtful Jeter will be at shortstop more than 3-4 frames.
Lee will be stretching things out to 4-5 innings in his fourth start of the spring after allowing a pair of big flies to the Twins last Thursday. The relievers scheduled to trail him -- Chad Durbin, Zach Miner, Mike Stutes and Justin De Fratus -- leave me less than confident in the Phillies, which is why I'm going to back the Yanks.
My picks: Pirates +106, Reds -118, Yankees -118 at 5Dimes
Preseason: 6-6 (-$0.55)