Texas Rangers (+125) at Toronto Blue Jays (-140, 9 o/u)
Seven months after Jose Bautista bat-flipped his way into history, the Texas Rangers (14-11, 4-6 road) will return to the site of their disappointing ALDS loss to the Toronto Blue Jays (12-14, 5-7 home) in search of a little revenge. While plunking Bautista will no doubt be a point of order during this series, the Rangers biggest goal is to stay on top of the AL West when they open up a four-game series in “the 6” tonight (7:07 PM Eastern).
These teams combined for 45 runs over their five-game playoff series and the offense should be plentiful once again, be it because of the talented bats in the lineup, or the ineptitude of each squad’s pitching.
R.A. Dickey (1-3, 6.75 ERA) will hit the bump for the Blue Jays following another disastrous April. With a 5.12 ERA on his career in the first month of the season, the knuckleballer certainly lived up to his slow starter reputation this year, logging just one quality start in his first five. Dickey tends to get better in May – down to a 4.41 ERA – but he should still provide the Rangers with some good hitting.
Countering for Texas will be righty A.J. Griffin (3-0, 2.52 ERA), who has been a nice surprise in the Rangers rotation after missing two full seasons following Tommy John surgery. In his last outing, Griffin went eight innings giving up just one run to the Yankees. The longer Griffin can last against the Jays the better, because the Texas bullpen has been serving up games on a silver platter.
Despite looking like a pretty strong group heading into the season, the Rangers have the AL’s worst bullpen ERA through the first month of the season. The Blue Jays can’t really claim to have a huge advantage in that area, though, as their relievers have been saddled with eight losses already this season.
We know the Jays have a ton of power in their lineup, but they haven’t yet been able to get on base consistently. Meanwhile, Elvis Andrus, Nomar Mazara, and Adrian Beltre are all hitting over .300 for the Rangers. In what should be a shootout, take the team that gets on base more often.
Pick: Rangers (+125) and OVER.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)