Tigers & Dodgers Among Contenders With Light April Slates

miguel cabrera tigers

Willie Bee

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 1:35 PM GMT

If Detroit is going to mount a challenge to Cleveland in the AL Central, the Tigers have to get off to a fast start with a friendly schedule on their side to upset the MLB futures odds. 

If there are teams that have tougher early schedules than others, then some teams must have easy slates the first few weeks of the 2017 MLB season, right? Well, yes and no.

I don't subscribe to the notion that an easy schedule in the majors exists. Now, if the defending champions from the North Side of Chicago got things going against MLB bottom-feeders, your Padres, Twins, Reds & Rays, that would be easy enough for the Cubs who lead all MLB futures odds at 4/1 to win another World Series.

But no team has that undemanding beginning to their schedule. Still, some clubs expected to contend do have it a bit easier than others, and it's imperative for several to take advantage of a lighter start if they are going to make a postseason appearance.

 

Astros Only Face One Playoff Team From 2016 In April

Detroit is one American League side that gets off to a relatively easy start, and the Tigers simply can't pass up the opportunity it they're to upset Cleveland in the Central. The Tigers are +500 picks to win the division, well behind the Indians (-400), and only three of their first eight series come against true playoff contenders.

Granted, one of those series is a long one against AL favorite Boston, but it is at home on the first weekend. Brad Ausmus' crew also gets the Seattle Mariners later in April at Comerica, where the Tigers were a modest 45-35 a year ago. The only tough road series is three in Cleveland on the second weekend, with the month filled out by two series each against the Twins and White Sox, plus three games in Tampa.

The Houston Astros have a long history of slow starts, but as favorites in the AL West they simply can't afford one this time with a very manageable April fixture. Start with the fact Houston won't see the Rangers at all, a good thing having gone 10-28 vs. their rivals the past two seasons. The Astros face Seattle a couple of times, the season opener Monday and the start of their first road trip the following week. The other two April home sets are opposite the Angels and A's, plus there are road stops in Oakland and Tampa. The only playoff team from 2016 Houston faces in April is a three-game roadie in Cleveland.

 

Early Dodgers-Cubs Set At Wrigley Is Must-See

Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets top my list for having the lightest April schedules in the National League, and since they have five home series to LA's four the tiebreaker goes to the Mets. Terry Collins' crew begins at Citi Field for six games against the Braves and Marlins, then has a 9-game homestand a week later that includes the Braves, again, plus  the Phillies and Nationals. There is a road trip early to Philadelphia and Miami, plus a return match with the Nats in DC to close the month before opening May against the Braves and Marlins yet again. New York won't play its first opponent outside the NL East until May 8 when the Mets host the San Francisco Giants.

The Dodgers have road trips to meet both the Cubs and Giants in the season's first month, but outside those two series the competition should make LA big chalk on the MLB odds most of the initial 25 games. On that list are teams like the Padres, Diamondbacks and Phillies at Chavez Ravine, plus the Rockies and D-backs on the road.

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