This year’s version of Spring Training felt incredibly long. The anticipation for an opening day to kick off a traditional 162 game season has been felt this year more than ever. We should be thankful for this special day and be optimistic that we will get a full heaping of this great game for the next seven months. Today we are excited to bring you the first edition of Diamond Picks. These will be my best, favorite picks for either a side or a total on select games.
Betting Odds provided by Jazz Sportsbook. Please gamble responsibly.
Texas Rangers vs. Kansas City Royals
The Royals could have up to four left-handed batters penciled in the lineup to attack right-handed hurler Kyle Gibson at Kaufman Stadium. Among them is Carlos Santana, who has four big flies and eight RBI against the former Minnesota Twin. Unfortunately, Alberto Mondesi will not be active for this game after just recently being assigned to the 10 day IL. The Royals will head into the season after tearing the cover off the ball over spring training. They ranked first in baseball in slugging (.501), total bases (462), and home runs (48).
Brad Keller is set to get the nod for Kansas City. He will get to face a fairly depleted Rangers lineup that is now without Elvis Andrus. The player they acquired for Andrus, Khris Davis will miss three to four weeks with a quad strain. Highly touted outfielder, Willie Calhoun is questionable with a groin injury. The rest of this Rangers crew have a very limited sample of 17 at-bats lifetime versus Keller resulting in three hits
Each club is undergoing some sort of rebuilding process. After losing 103 games in 2019, the Royals showed more promise over last year’s abbreviated season winning 26 while dropping 34. The Rangers, who have also moved on from workhorse pitcher Lance Lynn, finished last year at 22-38 after going 78-84 in 2019.
Both teams closed out their respective shortened campaigns on good terms. The Rangers won three consecutive and finished at 3-2 in their last five while Kansas City won four of five.
Neither team is blessed with good pitching, Texas; 5.02 ERA, KC; 4.30 ERA in 2020. Tonight’s starters are fairly comparable in talent which leads us to the lineups. The core Royals hitters actually have the ability to do some damage this season. Not sure you can say the same about the other side.
Diamond pick: Kansas City Royals -170
Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies
We are getting value on both sides with these division foes. Most betting sites should be having each team close to even odds. Despite the Braves being a better team, you have to love the prospects of backing Philadelphia with their ace Aaron Nola on the bump. Nola holds a lifetime 11-6 record with a 3.05 ERA over 20 starts versus Atlanta. He went 3-1 with a 2.50 ERA and 53 K over 39.2 innings on home turf in 2020.
Four-year pro Max Fried will get the opening day nod for Atlanta. He enters this one on the heels of a very strong 2020 showing in which he went 7-0 with a 2.25 ERA. The lefty previously went 17-6 with a 4.02 ERA over 30 starts in 2019. Fried is looking to establish himself over a full season, whereas Nola is already a proven star. J.T. Realmuto is 7-18 with two HR and Bryce Harper has gone yard twice in previous meetings against Fried.
The Phillies fared slightly better against left-handed pitchers in 2020. They slugged .466 over 545 at-bats. Over 1,403 at-bats against righties they put up a .429 slug. A major area of concern for the Phillies is the bullpen. They got absolutely tagged last season and pitched to an ERA just over seven. If Nola is on he can easily go seven or eight innings. If they do turn to the pen they will have a couple of new arms to turn to in Archie Bradley and Jose Alvarado. Alvarado owns a career 3.46 ERA over 132.2 innings with a 27.9 K percentage.
Diamond Pick: Philadelphia Phillies -115
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