We see it every spring, one player producing for his club yet still fighting for a big league job while another struggles but has his place on a big league roster locked up.
Such is the scene at Tempe Diablo Stadium this afternoon when the Los Angeles Angels host the Cleveland Indians. First pitch is a little past 4 PM (ET) and the Angels were sent out as -140 chalk on the overnight MLB odds.
Trevor Bauer is scheduled to start for the Tribe, and the former 1st-round pick out of UCLA is enjoying a solid Cactus League so far (3.27 ERA, 11 IP, 9:1 K:BB). Part of a 3-team trade from Arizona this past winter, this will be Bauer's first official start of the spring, which isn't really a good sign for someone who was supposedly part of the battle for the fifth slot in manager Terry Francona's rotation.
Cleveland will have veterans Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Brett Myers at the top of the rotation, and another veteran, Scott Kazmir, seems a cinch for the fourth slot. The Indians also have Daisuke Matsuzaka set to begin the year at Triple-A, and Bauer might have to bide his time on the farm with Dice-K.
Tommy Hanson is set to make his fourth exhibition assignment, and the former Atlanta Braves hurler has scuffled in the previous three allowing nine runs in as many innings. Hanson has also served up four long balls.
There's no reason to lay -140 on Hanson at this point, so I won't. Indians +120 for my free pick.
Lots Of Blue At Cactus League Tilt
Green was a popular color around spring training sites on Sunday when games were played on St. Paddy's Day, but blue will be en vogue Wednesday afternoon when the Los Angeles Dodgers travel to Surprise for a battle with the Kansas City Royals. Kansas City is priced at -130 for this affair that finds Wade Davis on the hill for the home favorites against Aaron Harang of the visiting Dodgers.
Harang has struggled in his previous three exhibition outings, all starts that have totaled nine innings. The righthander drags a 10.00 ERA into this match. He may have already pitched his way out of any shot for the rotation, and might soon find himself dealt away from LA. The good news for this game is several Dodgers regulars (Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Luis Cruz) are expected to play.
Davis has been bothered by a sore shoulder as he makes just his third official appearance of spring. The former Rays pitcher looked good in the previous two, however, and Kansas City has been the best performer in spring games though the Royals are looking to snap a 2-game losing streak in this one.
I'm liking Harang to have his best spring showing and push the Dodgers (+110) into the win column.
Rays, Twins Under Lights In Fort Myers
We can't seem to escape Matt Moore this spring, and his fourth start of the exhibition schedule is on tap this evening when the Tampa Bay Rays visit the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers. Mike Pelfrey is slated to toe the rubber for the Twins.
Tampa Bay has been installed as -125 road chalk for the 7:05 PM (ET) first pitch.
Moore is coming off his best effort of spring training last Friday with seven strikeouts and one unearned run allowed over five innings vs. the Phillies. Control was an early bugaboo for the southpaw who also has a relief appearance to go with three starts.
Pelfrey has been very, very good in two of his four assignments, and very, very bad in the other two. The most recent was an ugly performance vs. the Red Sox last Thursday, and he'll be out to stop a 2-game slide for the Twins tonight.
Mother Nature could spoil this one with rain in the Fort. Myers forecast, so bettors will want to check the latest news before going to the window. For the last of my MLB picks, I'm going to make it a clean sweep for the underdogs on Hump Day with a play in Minnesota.
My MLB picks: Indians +120, Dodgers +110, Twins +105Preseason: 11-10 ($0.03)