Having a short Sunday in terms of sports, it is great idea by the League to give us three games instead of one on Sunday in order to get things started and choose the MLB picks for the season.
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Each one of has its own flavor and with the best pitchers going for each team, which just adds to the opening day excitement. Without further ado, here is our first Pitchers Report for 2016 and taking a look at the MLB odds boards in the process.
Wainwright Handcuffs Pirates
The first contest of the new season is an outstanding one and based on how last year worked out, an important one. St. Louis is in the unusual role of not being the hunted in their division or even the National League, which will fuel this team from the start of the season. With the Chicago Cubs the talk of baseball, Cardinals' players will be anxious to prove that since 1908, their franchise has a 11-0 advantage in World Series titles over their rivals.
Though St. Louis might have lost John Lackey to Chicago, they will have a full season of Adam Wainwright, today's starting pitcher ready for action. Derailed by injury last year, the 34-year old right-hander is 100 percent and commands a tailing fastball in the low 90's and utilizes a cutter on either side of the plate. Wainwright is unafraid to use his outstanding curveball on any count and will flummox opposing hitters.
Francisco Liriano gets the call for Pittsburgh, who is almost forgotten after winning 98 games a season ago. The Pirates starting pitching does not appear to be as strong and many wonder if they will start to decline after being postseason failures. Liriano relies on sinker, slider and changeup mix. The Bucs opened as +105 home underdogs, but are now -110 favorites at most sportsbooks. For MLB picks, the Redbirds have won last seven of nine Wainwwright starts versus Pittsburgh and with their bullpen, make in eight of 10.
Play On: Wainwright and St. Louis
Toronto's Trouble in Tampa Bay Continue
The second game of the day will be on ESPN2 with the mother ship bookending the first and last games of day. Toronto and Marcus Stroman pays first visit to Tampa Bay and get first look at Chris Archer.
The Blue Jays are the defending AL East champions and while there are many deserving questions about their starting pitching, the offense generated a baseball-best 891 runs in 2015. Though the departure of David Price hurts, they do have Stroman presumably for full season. The diminutive right-hander has mid-90's fastball, is not afraid to throw upstairs to hitters with two strikes and has two-seamer and cutter. Also has exceptional slider, but will get too excited and hurry delivery and loses command.
Archer is premier power pitcher, with two-seam and four-seam fastballs that range from 93 to 97 MPH and both has late movement. Complements those with a power slider that have tremendous tilt which can disappear from right-hand batters. Could be good spot for home underdog (+105) since Blue Jays have long history of failure in west Florida (23-53) and the Rays are 5-2 in last seven games with Archer on the hill versus Toronto.
Play Against: Stroman and Toronto
World Series Champs Take Down Harvey and Mets
Not sure what Kansas City has to do to get some respect (Rodney Dangerfield, help us out!). The Royals have been to consecutive World Series, winning the last one and opened as home underdogs to the team they defeated in the Fall Classic, the New York Mets.
You are not going to get many arguments that Matt Harvey has more talent than Edinson Volquez as a starting pitcher, however, the Royals righty is not the next coming of Aaron Harang either. Volquez has worked out mechanics problems with K.C. coaches and has two terrific fastballs, what scouts call a plus-curve and a deluxe changeup he will use on any count.
That is not say Harvey is a slouch, as he throws in the mid-90's, has sharp-breaking curve and slider and is classic power pitcher. Maybe the Mets would like a small measure of revenge, but Kansas City's lineup and determination is unlike any team in baseball and wins one for the home fans.
Play On: Volquez and Kansas City