Home run (safest bet)
Take the Angels to win at 1.55 over the Seattle Mariners
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will cruise to victory at home on Tuesday versus the Mariners. After a 2013 campaign of disappointment, the Angels’ lineup should be in much better shape – at least as the season commences.
Old sluggers Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are currently fighting fit. This probably won’t be the case for the whole year as one (or both) will likely be ailing by the end of the 162 games. Still, being able to match them up with superstar Mike Trout in the middle of the LA lineup will make this a formidable offensive gauntlet – at least for this game.
The fact that the Mariners give Erasmo Ramirez the starting pitching assignment adds to the mismatch here. Ramirez has been brilliant in spring training, posting a 3-0 record and a 1.14 ERA in 23 2/3 innings pitched. But the spring can be very misleading when pitchers are often facing minor league quality hitters who are getting opportunities in big league exhibition games.
Looking back to last season, when Ramirez put up a more telling 4.98 ERA, and you’ll have a better sense of what the Angels are going up against. As for LA’s starter, C.J. Wilson has quietly be a consistent anchor to the Angels rotation over the past two years. In particular, he was fierce in the second half of 2013, when he went 8-1 with a 3.42 ERA. In terms of his work against Seattle, he owned them last year, posting a 3-1 record with a 2.20 ERA. The Mariners lineup does include the addition of Robinson Cano, but is otherwise relatively weak.
Squeeze play (gutsiest call)
Go with the Miami Marlins at 1.91 to beat the Colorado Rockies
Miami was a flat out disaster in 2013, losing 100 games en route to a last place finish in the National League East. They probably won’t be a ton better this year, but they do have a solid opportunity for a win at home in this game.
The one element the Marlins can boast about is some strong under-the-radar starting pitching. Most fans are familiar with Jose Fernandez, a right-hander who won the NL Rookie of the Year award last year, but Miami’s starter in this game, Nate Eovaldi is a highly promising pitcher in his own right. In 18 starts last year, he delivered a 3.39 ERA. As for his teammates, a few facts augur well for their success. First, they had a winning record versus the Rockies last season (4-3).
Second, as bad as they were in 2013, they did produce far better results as home (.444 winning percentage) than on the road (.321). Finally, the team’s biggest offensive threat Giancarlo Stanton is healthy and in the lineup. He missed more than 50 games last season, but has looked good in spring training. Plus, he’s hit better against left-handed starters in his career and will face lefty the Rockies’ Brett Anderson in this contest.