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Mlb American League Fixtures Preview And Picks For Tuesday April 15th 2014


Here’s our preview of tonight’s MLB action in the American League…


Yankee Stadium – 00:05 GMT
Expected pitchers – Hammel (2-0, 2.63) vs. M. Tanaka (1-0, 3.21)
Money line – CHC (37/20) NYY (20/41)
Run line – CHC +1.5 (20/23) NYY -1.5 (20/21)

The Cubs have dropped all 4 of their early-season series, doubling up losses to wins at a ratio which already sees them reeling, and in trouble. For the most part, their starting pitching has been repsectable; Jeff Samardzija has allowed just 3 runs in 21 innings pitched, Travis Wood 4 in twelve, while Tuesday starter Jason Hammel has allowed just 5 hits in two starts. Their bats, however, have not been quite as reliable. Outside of the emerging Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, there is little power game in the order, and the club has just three players hitting at .300 or better at this early juncture of the season. That needs to improve, and fast.

The Yankees were looking a bit listless at the .500 mark, but taking 3 of 4 from the rival Red Sox over the weekend ought to renew the confidence of the club and its fans. The Yankees rotation, which was considered a question mark entering the season, has actually ended up being a great strength. Their two Japanese nationals, Masahiro Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda, have been the strongest two arms, while Michael Pineda, C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova have been strong enough to get wins. The strong start to the season of new acquisitions Jacoby Ellsbury, Yangervis Solarte, and Carlos Beltran only helps matters.

PICK: New York

Camden Yards – 00:05 GMT
Expected pitchers – Odorizzi (1-1, 5.73) vs. M. Gonzalez (0-1, 9.64)
Money line – TB (100/107) BAL (100/103)
Run line – TB -1.5 (29/20) BAL +1.5 (20/33)

The Rays’ early season hopes were dealt a serious blow on Wednesday, with news that stud young lefty Matt Moore will be out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. This means that the bulk of the hard starts will be handled solely by David Price and Alex Cobb, both of whom are strong starters, but leaves a hole in the Rays rotation. For their part, the Rays bullpen has been stellar to this point in the season; closer Grant Balfour has yet to allow a run, while set up man Jake McGee has the same distinction. Their hitting, on the other hand, could certainly use a boost, beyond the reliable bats of Matt Joyce and Evan Longoria. Young Wil Myers, whom the club expected to break out this season, has struggled, posting just a .217 average, with 0 home runs and 4 RBI.

Like the Rays, the Orioles entered the season with plentiful expectations. And, like the Rays, they have looked up-and-down in the early going of the 2014 campaign. Their starting pitching was their big question mark entering the season, but outside of new acquisition Ubaldo Jimenez, it has been largely respectable. The Orioles were one of the hardest hitting teams in the league last season, so their mark of just 9 homers in 13 games has to be seen as disappointing. Last year’s home run champion Chris Davis (53 in 2013) has just one in the early season, though he has picked up his run producing and average over the past few games.

PICK: Tampa Bay

Comerica Park – 00:08 GMT
Expected pitchers – McAllister(1-0, 2.31) vs. An. Sanchez (0-0, 3.00)
Money line – CLE (29/20) DET (5/8)
Run line – CLE +1.5 (20/29) DET -1.5 (5/4)

Entering the season in the throes of some injury troubles, it was always going to be difficult for the Indians to get off to a particularly strong start. Yet, right up until going 1-3 against the lesser-sister Chicago White Sox, it was actually going fairly well for the team. Their starting pitching has struggled at times to give them consistently reliable outings, but they have been saved by a solid bullpen. Tuesday’s starter, young Zach McAllister, has probably been the best arm, but he has started just twice. They could desperately use a healthy return of the big bat of Michael Bourn, as their normally reliable power hitters have gone dry for most of the early season.

A team as stacked from top to bottom as the Tigers are should always get off to a strong start to the season. Behind one of the best pitching staffs in the Majors, the Tigers have done just that. Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer have both put in a strong first three starts, and it is now up to excellent number three man Anibal Sanchez to do the same. For their part, the order has been relatively consistent, although the poor start of two-time defending AL MVP Miguel Cabrera (.225, 1HR 4RBI) has to be seen as a little troubling. Still, he’s too talented to let his struggles linger for long.

PICK: Detroit

The Ballpark at Arlington – 01:05 GMT
Expected pitchers – Beavan (0-0, -.–) vs. R. Ross (0-0, 1.74)
Money line – SEA (5/4) TEX (20/27)
Run line – SEA +1.5 (4/7) TEX -1.5 (31/20)

Clutch bats and better-than-expected starting pitching have been the key reasons for early success in Seattle, and it will be interesting to see if this young and unproven bunch can continue to ride the wave through the first part of the season. Outside of ace Felix Hernandez, the team has seen strong starts from young pitches James Paxton and Roenis Elias, and even stronger support from their bullpen. They are led at the plate by perennial All Star second baseman Robinson Cano, whose .326 batting average is strong, even if he is still looking for his first home run of the year. Young catcher Mike Zunino (.282, 3HR 8RBI) has surprised in the early going with strong form.

The Rangers have to be fairly disappointed with their 6-7 start, as they have the bats and arms to be a much more consistent team. With just 5 home runs on the year though, it is clear that they are suffering through a severe power drought. Big Prince Fielder (.176, 0HR 3RBI) has been particularly disappointing for the team, and is still looking for his first dinger as a Ranger. In fact, the Rangers don’t have a single everyday starter hitting above .300 right now, a troubling stat that speaks to what has ailed them early in the year. Their pitching staff has been good enough, and Tuesday starter Robert Ross has been a particular surprise in the early going.

PICK: Seattle

U.S. Cellular Field – 01:10 GMT
Expected pitchers – Peavy (0-0, 2.13) vs. E. Johnson (0-1, 9.58)
Money line – BOS (100/139) CWS (129/100)
Run line – BOS -1.5 (11/10) CWS +1.5 (10/13)

Call it a World Series hangover, but the Red Sox haven’t exactly been lighting the world on fire in the early days of the 2014 season. They faced some serious adversity over the weekend, losing 3 of four in a set against the Yankees, dropping them to a rough 5-8 mark. For their part, the Red Sox starting arms, including Tuesday starter Jake Peavy, have mostly been reliable. The bats, on the other hand, are up and down. Team leader Dustin Pedroia is struggling in the early going, hitting just .236 with 1 RBI and 0 stolen bases. The one pleasant surprise for the team has been Grady Sizemore (.343, 2HR 4RBI), who looks like he could be a real option as an everyday center fielder for the club.

If there’s one team whose early returns should be considered overwhelmingly positive, it’s the 7-6 Chicago White Sox. Coming off a miserable last-place finish in the AL Central, the team really needed some positives entering 2014. And, behind some clutch hitting and solid starting pitching, they have gotten just that in the first dozen games of the season. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez is re-emerging as one of the best in the game, with a sparkling .420 average, 3 home runs and 12 RBI. On the pitching side,  the Sox may finally have a foil for ace Chris Sale in young lefty Jose Quintana, who has been strong in his three starts to this point in the season. Tuesday starter Erik Johnson has struggled, but is talented. 

PICK: Chicago

Minute Maid Park
Expected pitchers – Ventura (0-0, 0.00) vs. Harrell (0-2, 11.05)
Money line – KC (20/31) HOU (7/5)
Run line – KC -1.5 (1/1) HOU +1.5 (5/6)

This hasn’t been the start the Royals were hoping for when they entered 2014. Considered by many to be a team on the rise, with the markings of a real AL Central contender, Kansas City has struggled both at the plate, and in the pen, and their results have suffered. Starting pitchers like James Shields and Jason Vargas have been good enough, but their bullpen has struggled mightily for consistency. Only spot-man Aaron Crow has made more than 1 appearance without surrendering a run. In terms of their power game, it has been absolutely non-existent for the Royals: they have just 1 home run (Alex Gordon), a league-low that has many in the franchise wondering whether they have the kind of pop they need to compete long term.

Anything is an improvement on a 53-win season, and the Astros 5 wins in 13 games should be taken with a grain of salt, as just that: an improvement. Starting pitching was their Achilles heel last season, so the stellar form shown by new acquisition Scott Feldman (2-0, 0.44 in 20 IP) has to be considered welcome. Behind him, they have been getting reliable enough starts from everyone except Tuesday starter Lucas Harrell, who has struggled in the early going. They lost some heart-breaking 1-0 contests to Texas in a three game set over the weekend, and will look to a ragtag batting order to give their surprising pitching the run support it needs to be successful.

PICK: Houston

Target Field – 01:10 GMT
Expected pitchers – Morrow (1-1, 5.73) vs. P. Hughes (0-0, 7.20)
Money line – TOR (25/32) MIN (59/50)
Run line – TOR -1.5 (6/5) MIN +1.5 (5/7)

Back-to-back series victories over the Astros and Orioles will be reassuring for the Blue Jays, who have lookd good enough to be competitive in the early going. They have gotten reliable starts from the likes of Mark Buehrle and Drew Hutchison, though perhaps not from ace R.A. Dickey, who has 1 win and a 5.30 ERA in his first three starts. Timely hitting has helped the Jays, particularly that of left fielder Melky Cabrera, whose .328 and 20 hits is far and away tops on the team in the early going. They will hope that Jose Bautista’s early power (5 home runs, 9 RBI in 40 at bats) can be spread over the balance of the season, as he looks to rebound from a poor 2013.

A three game sweep of the Royals over the weekend means that there’s reason for optimism in Minnesota, as the Twins look to rebound from an ugly 2013. Though their starting pitching hasn’t exactly been lights out, it has been good enough to keep them in high-scoring games, where some strong bats have propelled them through the early going. They have  5 everyday players hitting above .250, led by the .385 of surprising veteran outfielder Jason Kubel.

PICK: Toronto

Angels Stadium
Expected pitchers – Straily (1-1, 2.77) vs. Richards (2-0, 0.75)
Money line – OAK (51/50) LAA (25/28)
Run line – OAK +1.5 (5/11) LAA -1.5 (9/5)

The Athletics hold the best record in the AL to this early point in the season, thanks in large part to a pitching staff which has been nigh-unbeatable. Of their regular starters, only Tuesday starter Dan Straily has an ERA over 2.00, and his is a perfectly respectable 2.77. In the injury absence of Jarrod Parker, young Sonny Gray has stepped up as a reliable option at ace, posting 2 wins and a sparkling 0.95 ERA in three starts. For their part, the A’s bats have shown a surprising level of pop in the early going; they have 14 home runs from 9 different sources, led by the re-emerging Yoenis Cespedes (.240, 3HR 10RBI) in left field.

There is maybe no more frustrating a team in the American League than the Angels, who have one of the more talented rosters in the Majors, but are consistently unable to find sustained success with it. A hard-fought 3-2 loss to Oakland perfectly encapsulated the Angels early season struggles, as they gave up a ninth-inning home run to pinch hitting catcher John Jaso of the A’s en route to losing their lead, and the game. The team suffered a serious blow when Josh Hamilton was lost to injury last week, and the burden of expectation now falls heavily on the shoulders of Mike Trout (.296, 4HR 7RBI). Tuesday starter Garrett Richards has been one of the more pleasant surprises in the early going for the Angels, but they need more from their ace arms.


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Richard Roche
Richard is our sportsbook specialist. Spotting the best odds on the market or a curveball spread opportunity is his job - and he dedicates himself to it.

Richard is our sportsbook specialist. Spotting the best odds on the market or a curveball spread opportunity is his job - and he dedicates himself to it.

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