Chicago White Sox F5 -0.5, +100 vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Nice pitching edge to the White Sox, who almost always look attractive as a short-priced home favorite. Top pitching prospect Michael Kopech (who excelled in the bullpen last year but is now being stretched into a starter) got a little bit of a late start heading into spring training, but looked sharp through four innings in his season debut while logging 69 pitches. He should be in fine shape Saturday, while opponent Corey Kluber hasn't looked good for a few years now (inconsistent at best). Just as an example, he walked four batters in 4.2 innings in his season debut, and the White Sox (with their powerful offense) figure to be in good shape if that happens again. I lean to the first-five Innings bet in this matchup, not only to wipe away most of the juice, but also because Kopech might not go much past five innings (nor will Kluber, hopefully), and also because Chicago closer Liam Hendriks has pitched three of the last four days and might not be available.
Philadelphia Phillies +105 at Miami Marlins
I'm a big Ranger Suarez supporter and am generally looking to back him at any reasonable price. I think being an underdog to the Marlins looks pretty reasonable. Much like Kopech above, Suarez got off to a little bit of a late start this spring (non health-related) and was also a little bit unlucky in his season debut, with the Phillies committing some errors. It was definitely not a great outing as he walked a few batters also, but frankly that might've been the first time I've seen him underperform. He's a good bet to bounce back, and, of course, the Phillies offense holds a pretty significant edge over the Marlins. Trevor Rogers is excellent, and the Phillies have been slumping, but it's still hard to see how they don't have an edge. Good play at the plus price.
Los Angels Angels -118 at Texas Rangers
I watched Syndergaard last week in his return vs. Verlander and the Astros, and I was really struck by how well he was able to keep the ball down (he induced 12 ground balls in just five innings, while allowing four baserunners and no runs versus one of the best lineups in baseball). Obviously, keeping the ball down is going to help when you're pitching in Texas. On the other side of this matchup is Taylor Hearn, who allowed eight hits and a walk to the road version of the Rockies last time out. The Angels offense also seems to be in good form, as it scored nine runs Friday night with Ohtani connecting for a couple homers. Seems like a clear edge to the Angels, at a pretty reasonable price.
Houston Astros -135 at Seattle Mariners
Excellent return performance by Verlander in his season debut last week, as he struck out seven batters over five innings while allowing little more than a baserunner per inning. He also looked great during spring training and appears set up for another nice effort in this good pitchers' park. Meanwhile, Mariners starter Chris Flexen is decent but did not pitch well at all in his prior start, walking almost a batter per inning and allowing an average of two baserunners per inning, while also allowing a whopping 12 fly balls in 4.1 innings. The Astros are a little cold and are without one of their big bats in Yordan Alvarez, but they still boast a powerful lineup and can make things pretty rough on Flexen if he doesn't bring his A-game. Clear edge to the Astros in this one, and I think -135 is reasonable given the pitching matchup.