Sports handicapper Ian Cameron provides a betting preview of the upcoming weekend. Check it our and choose your MLB picks.
Every week during the course of the MLB season, I will be taking a look ahead to upcoming series from a betting perspective. Here are three of the marquee series taking place in MLB this weekend between April 7th and April 10th
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants
Two teams expected to be battling throughout the season for the NL West crown will face off at AT&T Park in San Francisco for a key early season 4 game series this weekend. Probable starters are Alex Wood (LAD) against Jake Peavy (SF) Thursday, Ross Stripling (LAD) against Matt Cain (SF) Friday, Clayton Kershaw (LAD) against Madison Bumgarner (SF) in a battle of lefty aces Saturday and Scott Kazmir (LAD) against Johnny Cueto (SF) Sunday.
The San Francisco Giants could be the undervalued team in this matchup playing at home and featuring a solid bullpen, very good team defense and a much improved lineup featuring 9 hitters that more often than not provide quality at-bats with the likes of Angel Pagan, Joe Panik, Matt Duffy, Hunter Pence, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Buster Posey and newly acquired leadoff hitter Denard Span who has gotten off to a strong start with the bat.
The starting rotation has a couple question marks in Jake Peavy and Matt Cain who are aging and have had injury problems but the Giants are still a team with a lot of good pieces in place. The LA Dodgers may also be overvalued to some degree after playing the lowly San Diego Padres in their first series and have had success despite being plagued by key injuries to Andre Ethier, Howie Kendrick, Yasmani Grandal and starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu. I advise looking for potential value with the Giants in this series.
Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays
The Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays will engage in a very intriguing AL East series this weekend at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The Blue Jays will be looking to defend their AL East title in 2016 and will be facing a Red Sox team that is hoping they've added the pieces to challenge the Jays for the crown this season.
Probable starters are Rick Porcello (BOS) against Marcus Stroman (TOR) Friday, Steven Wright (BOS) against R.A. Dickey (TOR) in a battle of knuckleballers Saturday and David Price (BOS) against Marco Estrada (TOR) Sunday. Toronto should own the edge on Friday with their ace on the mound. On Saturday's battle of knuckleball pitchers, Wright has never started at Rogers Centre in Toronto and that can be a tough place to pitch when you aren't used to it and R.A. Dickey had a mediocre at best 4.62 ERA against the Red Sox last season.
On Sunday, David Price makes his return to Toronto and will surely get his share of boos and heckling from Jays fans in attendance while Marco Estrada will make his first start of the season after having his initial start pushed so that he could get his arm into better shape and form. The latter two games of this series should offer run scoring potential so having a look at the MLB odds boards and betting Over the total on Saturday and Sunday makes some sense to me.
Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels
It's an AL West clash between the Rangers and Angels this weekend for a 4 game series starting on Thursday. Probable starters are Derek Holland (TEX) against Hector Santiago (LAA) Thursday, A.J. Griffin (TEX) against Matt Shoemaker (LAA) Friday, Cole Hamels (TEX) against Jered Weaver (LAA) Saturday, Martin Perez (TEX) against Garrett Richards (LAA) Sunday.
Texas should be able to challenge Houston for AL West supremacy in 2016 and should have a chance to get off to a good start in this series with a solid chance to earn the upper hand as they feature slight starting pitching edges with Holland and Griffin against their counterparts including Shoemaker who I have pegged for some regression for the LA Angels in 2016.
Cole Hamels should have a major edge on the mound against Jered Weaver who suffered a massive decline last season as age and rapidly declining velocity have become a problem for him. Sunday is the one game in this series where the LA Angels should enjoy an edge in starting pitching with their ace Garrett Richards but Texas is the more complete and well rounded team, which makes them a better MLB pick for most people.
They have a very strong lineup with veteran hitters like Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo among others. Texas has a lockdown bullpen loaded with fastball arms that can dial it up on the radar gun and they play very strong defense both on the infield and outfield. Texas has a better lineup then the LA Angels, a better bullpen and plays better all around team defense in my opinion.
Those are factors worth considering here. The LA Angels lineup is very spotty outside of Mike Trout. Albert Pujols isn't the hitter he used to be and Cole Calhoun is a solid hitter but outside of that, it's a weak lineup and it has shown already as the Angels have been outscored by the Chicago Cubs 15-1 in the first two games of that series.
I'm also not convinced that Huston Street can hold up as the LA Angels closer and have the kind of strong season he needs to have at the back end of that Angels bullpen. Put it all together and I think the Rangers should have a solid chance to win this series and could provide betting value at the right price.