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Mlb Fixtures National League Preview And Picks For Saturday April 12th 2014

Here’s our preview of MLB action in the National League on Saturday, April 12th 2014… TAMPA BAY RAYS (6-5) @ CINCINNATI REDS (3-7)

The Great American Ballpark – 18:10 GMT Expected pitchers – Cobb (0-1, 3.00) vs. Simon (1-0, 1.29)   The Tampa Bay Rays rode a stellar performance from ace David Price to a win over the Reds on Friday, night, and will look to try and continue that momentum through to Saturday. Number two starter Alex Cobb will look for his first win of the season in his third start, while the team will look to their hot bats, including left fielder Matt Joyce (.423, 2HR 7RBI) and third baseman Evan Longoria (.359, 1HR 5RBI), to continue their strong start into Saturday.   It hasn’t exactly been a banner start to the season for the Reds, who have struggled to put up runs in their first 10 games of the year. Key bats like Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto have been up-and-down through the first ten games of the season, while the starting pitching, including ace Jonny Cueto, have performed well, but not gotten the run support to qualify wins. The team will hope that their relief pitching can improve upon form which has been disappointing early in the season. Veteran starter Alfredo Simon goes for the Reds on Saturday afternoon.   PICK: Tampa Bay CHICAGO CUBS (4-6) @ ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (5-5) Busch Stadium – 19:15 GMT Expected pitchers – Ca. Villanueva (1-2, 4.26) vs. Wainwright (1-1, 1.29)   The Cubs fought to a well-deserved 6-3 win over the rival Cardinals on Friday night, on the back of an extra innings shot from young catcher Wellington Castro. The team has actually gotten a respectable level of production from its bats this year, particularly young stars Anthony Rizzo (.333, 1HR 6RBI) and Starlin Castro (.310, 2HR 7RBI). Still, the NL Central is a division of arms, and unless their bullpen, which has struggled mightily behind strong starting pitching, improves, they will go nowhere but down.   The defending NL-champion Cardinals have gotten off to a bit of an inconsistent start, as they adjust to some new faces in new places. Sophomore first baseman Matt Adams (.378, 0HR 1RBI) is continuing his evolution into an every day first baseman for the team, though the troubling lack of production of newly acquired shortstop Jhonny Peralta (.063, 2HR 4RBI) is something that will need to improve. Saturday’s starter is ace Adam Wainwright, a solid prospect for a win on a nightly basis for the Cards.   PICK: St. Louis COLORADO ROCKIES (5-6) @ SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (7-4) AT&T Park – 21:05 GMT Expected pitchers – B. Anderson (0-2, 4.50) M. Cain (0-1, 5.73)   Though they weren’t exactly an NL West favorite entering the season, the Rockies were seen as a potential underdog in the division, owing to a potent batting order and an improving pitching staff. As expected, the bats have been big, led by perennial all Stars Carlos Gonzalez (.375, 4HR 13RBI) and Troy Tulowitzki (.393, 1HR 5RBI). And, as expected, the arms have been less than impressive; staff ace Jhoulys Chacin is out for another couple of weeks with arm soreness, leading the struggling Jorge De la Rosa (0-2, 9.69) as the staff ace for the time being.   With apologies to the starting pitching, it has been the batting order which has surged the Giants to a strong start. The power games of players like Angel Pagan (.442, 1HR 8RBI), Michael morse (.394, 2HR 10RBI) and Buster Posey (.351, 3HR 7RBI) have been key in big-run victories for the team. Staff number two Matt Cain will look to find his form after a lackluster first couple starts, as he recovers from a lingering shoulder injury which has persisted since last season.   PICK: Colorado MIAMI MARLINS (5-6) @ PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (4-6) Veterans Stadium – 00:05 GMT Expected pitchers – Eovaldi (1-1, 3.46) vs. Pettibone (0-0, -.–)   5 straight losses have invalidated what was a particularly strong 5-1 start for the Marlins, who will look to get back on the horse on Saturday night. Staff ace Jose Fernandez had the worst start of his stellar young career on Friday, and the club will hope that the same doesn’t happen with promising number two Nathan Eovaldi, who gets the Saturday start. Marlins star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton (.283, 2HR 13RBI) has recovered from a mediocre 2013 by showing excellent form in the early part of 2014.   The veteran-laden Phillies were the first team to crack the Jose Fernandez shell this season, and will look to keep their good thing rolling on Saturday night. Aside from reliable veteran Chase Utley (.469, 2HR 7RBI), few of the Phillies key players have lived up to the expected level of play this season, starting with former all-World first baseman Ryan Howard (.216, 1HR 4RBI). What’s worse, the Phillies bullpen, including closer Jonathan Papelbon and set up man Jeff Manship, have struggled mightily in their early performances, and need to be better to back up a mediocre starting rotation.   PICK: Miami PITTSBURGH PIRATES (6-4) @ MILWAUKEE BREWERS (8-2) Miller Park – 00:10 GMT Expected pitchers – Volquez (0-0, 1.17) vs. Gallardo (2-0, 0.00)   The Pirates have surged to a solid start, behind the big bat of Pedro Alvarez (.205, 5HR 10RBI) and some timely power hitting. More importantly, the team really likes what it has gotten from it’s starting staff, and that’s without the benefit of outstanding starts from staff ace Francisco Liriano (0-2, 4.00). Their bullpen was considered one of the best in the league entering the season, and considering they have allowed 9 runs combined (6 of which are on Jeanmar Gomez), it’s a definite boon for this otherwise strong up-and-down roster.   Although it is only the 10-game mark, the surprise team in the league to this point has to be the Milwaukee Brewers. Coming off a fourth place finish in the NL Central last season, an 8-2 start to 2014 has folks in the Brew Crew believing again. Saturday’s starter Yovanni Gallardo has yet to allow a run in 12 and 2/3 innings pitched, an outstanding start for the staff ace, while only number 2 Kyle Lohse has allowed more than 4 earned runs as a starter on the season. Augment that with strong early performances from Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez and the returning Ryan Braun, and you have a recipe for success in the early season for the Brewers.   PICK: Milwaukee WASHINGTON NATIONALS (7-3) @ ATLANTA BRAVES (6-4) Turner Field – 00:10 GMT Expected pitchers – Jordan (0-0, 1.42) vs. A. Wood (1-1, 1.93)   Expected to be a contender at the on-set of the 2014 season, the Nationals have looked like just that on the back of a 7-3 record in their first ten games. They will bemoan losing the first game of this important three-game set against the divisional rival Braves on Friday, but can reconcile it with a win on Saturday. They have been led in the early days by some outstanding performances from their bats: they have 4 everyday starters hitting above .300 right now, led by veteran Adam LaRoche (.361, 2HR 9RBI).   Thanks in large part to the performance of injury replacements, the Braves have managed to overcome some early season adversity, in order to stay competitive in the NL East. The play of emerging first baseman Freddie Freeman (.400, 2HR 5RBI) has been the biggest catalyst, while pitching, led by new acquisition Aaron Harang and Saturday starter Alex Wood, has been everything the club could ask for after suffering two season-ending injuries to starters in spring training. If they can manage to get this kind of consistent output from top to bottom all year, they’ll stay in the hunt in the East.   PICK: Atlanta LOS ANGELES DODGERS (7-4) @ ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (4-9) Chase Field – 01:10 GMT Expected pitchers – Greinke (2-0, 3.27) vs. Miley (2-1, 4.05)   NL West favorites at the onset of the year, the Dodgers have overcome some early season pitching troubles, and sit with a respectable 7-4 mark. The power game hasn’t really been there for the club, outside of big first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (.244, 3HR 9RBI). Star right fielder Yasiel Puig (.241, 1HR 4RBI) has struggled for form out of the gate, while former All Star Matt Kemp (.167, 2HR 4RBI) is a shadow of the player he once was, and is now more of a substitute than an every day starter. With Clayton Kershaw sitting due to injury, Saturday starter Zack Greinke is the default staff ace.   Since starting the season out with two losses in the Sydney, Australia Premiere series with the Dodgers, nothing has really gone right for the Diamondbacks. Their pitching, particularly from their starters, has been abysmal; none of the five arms in their starting staff has an ERA under 4, while only Saturday starter Wade Miley and Bronson Arroyo have actually managed wins. They are actually hitting for average well enough, keyed by perennial All Star Paul Goldschmidt (.340, 2HR 8RBI) and big-hitting Mark Trumbo (.235, 5HR 13RBI), but until their arms can improve, they will struggle on a nightly basis. Still, at least Miley is a respectable and reliable starter, and gives them a chance to win.   PICK: Arizona DETROIT TIGERS (5-3) @ SAN DIEGO PADRES (4-6) Petco Park – 02:40 GMT Expected pitchers – Verlander (0-1, 2.57) vs. Kennedy (1-1, 3.27)   AL Central favorites Detroit have lost 3 of 4 since getting out to a strong 4-0 start, and will look to rebound on the back part of their weekend set with the Padres. The team has struggled to get the kind of run support it expected this year, particularly from $300 million man Miguel Cabrera (.250, 1HR 3RBI). Still, it’s extremely early in the year, and this is far too deep a team to worry. Staff ace Justin Verlander is on the mound for a third time this year on Saturday, and he, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez are one of the best 1-2-3 rotations in the game.   Pitching was always going to be a problem for the Padres, so how nice it must have been for them to get a 9-inning, 11 strikeout shutout from ace Andrew Cashner on Friday. In fact, the majority of their starters, including Cashner and Saturday starter Ian Kennedy, have looked good in their early starts. It has been the bats which have been the problem for the Pads; they have an NL-worst 5 home runs on the year, and will need more power from what little big bats they have to stay competitive in their tough division.   PICK: Detroit

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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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