Multiple Ways To Cash In With Rangers vs. Angels As Aces Hit The Mound

Matthew Jordan

Sunday, May 1, 2016 1:00 PM GMT

It looks to be one of the better pitching matchups of Sunday when the L.A. Angels conclude a three-game series at AL West rival Texas as both clubs' aces are on the mound. The Rangers are -121 favorites with a total of 8.5.

What You Need To Know
Can the Angels' Albert Pujols get into the Top 10 on the all-time home runs list this season? Barring injury, one would think so. He recently passed Reggie Jackson for No.13 on the list as Pujols has 565 homers entering Saturday. Up next at No. 12 is Rafael Palmeiro at 569. I thought of Palmeiro this week with the news that Miami All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and was suspended 80 games. Remember how Palmeiro denied in front of Congress he had ever taken PEDs and then tested positive soon after? Of course Palmeiro said he didn't knowingly take steroids just like Gordon did. These baseball players never learn. But that's another story. Pujols should be able to pass No.9 Frank Robinson this season as Robinson has 586 homers. But reaching 600 will have to wait until 2017. 

That the Angels are hanging around .500 has to be considered a success considering that two members of their rotation, lefties C.J. Wilson and Andrew Heaney, have pitched a total of six innings this season, all by Heaney. Both are on the disabled list (so is closer Huston Street as of Thursday). Wilson is hoping to return in June from left shoulder inflammation. Meanwhile, Heaney's status remains murky as he's dealing with a left forearm issue and is getting additional opinions. Heaney already has gotten had two MRIs that revealed his ulnar collateral ligament was sound. If it's torn, Heaney would have to have season Tommy John surgery. Wilson and Heaney were supposed to be the team's No. 2 and 3 starters.

Teams are going to want to beat Texas now because the Rangers are hoping for the return of Yu Darvish by late May from Tommy John surgery and they will be much better with him. The Japanese right-hander was scheduled to pitch Sunday in his first minor-league rehab start since that surgery on March 17, 2015. Darvish, one of the best pitchers in baseball his first three seasons, was to throw two innings or 30 pitches in Double-A on Sunday. It would be his first game since March 5, 2015 -- that was a spring outing that Darvish left after only 12 pitches with tightness in his right arm.


Probable Pitchers
With Darvish out, lefty Cole Hamels (3-0, 2.52) is now the Rangers' clear No. 1 starter and he gets the call here. Texas hasn't yet had Hamels and Darvish in the same rotation because Hamels was acquired at least July's deadline from Philadelphia. The Rangers skipped Hamels' start Monday with a strained left groin but he felt fine after a bullpen session Wednesday. In Hamels' last start, he held the Astros to one run and five hits over 6.2 innings on April 20. He did walk three for the third time this season, which is a bit unusual.

Hamels pitched at the AL West rival Angels on April 9 -- his lone road start of the year -- and allowed one run and four hits over six innings in a 4-1 win. Hamels, who hasn't lost a regular-season start since Aug. 7, 2015, is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in three career starts against the Angels. Pujols is just 5-for-30 career off him but does have three homers and seven RBIs. Yunel Escobar is 6-for-30 with eight walks. Mike Trout is 1-for-5 with a double. Texas is 15-1 in Hamels' past 16 starts on MLB odds.

The Halos start right-hander Garrett Richards (1-3, 2.35). As you can see by that ERA and record, he's not getting much run support. In his first four starts, the Angels totaled six runs. But on Monday, they scored six and Richards beat the Royals, allowing no earned runs and three hits (all singles) over 6.2 innings. Richards was opposite Hamels on April 9, allowing four runs (two earned) and eight hits over 6.2 innings in taking the loss. Adrian Beltre is a career .300 hitter off him with three homers and seven RBIs in 40 at-bats. Elvis Andrus is 11-for-40 with nine strikeouts. Rougned Odor maybe gets the day off as he's only 1-for-20 with eight strikeouts off Richards. The Angels are 1-5 on MLB picks in Richards' past six road starts. The Angels are 1-6 in Richards' past seven starts. L.A. is 9-0 in Hamels' past nine at home. The 'under' is 5-2 in Richards' past seven vs. Texas.

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MLB Free Picks: Rangers -122 and Under 8 +100
Best Line Offered:  at Heritage & Bookmaker