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MLB • Monday Service Plays • 4/4/16

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    Preview: Giants at Brewers

    GAME: San Francisco Giants (0-0) at Milwaukee Brewers (0-0)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, April 04 – 2:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    Madison Bumgarner makes his third consecutive Opening Day start when the San Francisco Giants began their pursuit of another title by visiting the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday. San Francisco won the World Series in each of the last three even-numbered seasons while Bumgarner has emerged as one of the top pitchers in the game.

    Bumgarner downplays the importance of the Opening Day start as his intensity level is always on high whenever his turn in the rotation arrives. “You can say that for the first one and then the next one comes around and you say the same thing,” Bumgarner told reporters. “Say the same thing for the next 30 of them. You can always find a reason to want to go out there and pitch good. It’s not very hard to find a reason.” Expectations are a lot lower for Milwaukee, which is in rebuilding mode after the departure of several key players since last July. “We’re not breaking up a juggernaut team that has gone to the postseason each of the last five years or something,” outfielder Ryan Braun told reporters. “I think we’re building toward something that we’ll be able to have sustained success and have some impact players.”

    TV: 2:10 p.m. ET, CSN Bay Area (San Francisco), FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Giants LH Madison Bumgarner (2015: 18-9, 2.93 ERA) vs. Brewers RH Wily Peralta (2015: 5-10, 4.72)

    The 26-year-old Bumgarner has won 18 games in each of the past two seasons and has proven to be one of the most durable pitchers in the game with five straight 200-inning campaigns. The three-time All-Star already has 85 career victories and he held batters to a .222 average and compiled a 1.01 WHIP last season. Bumgarner has thrived against the Brewers by going 5-2 with a 1.96 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in eight career starts.

    Peralta had a disappointing season last year and a porous 6.30 spring-training ERA but still was tabbed to be the Opening Day starter. The 26-year-old is 3-1 with a 4.85 ERA in five career starts against the Giants and Milwaukee is hoping he can resemble the pitcher who went 17-11 with a 3.53 ERA in 2014. “I think he’s more than capable of getting back to the level he was in 2014,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell told reporters. “He’s really primed and in the sweet spot to get back to that level.”


    1. Braun is expected to start the opener after undergoing back surgery in the offseason and he made the move from right field to left during spring training.

    2. San Francisco C Buster Posey (flu) is questionable and manager Bruce Bochy is closely monitoring his progress.

    3. Milwaukee is expecting a bounce-back campaign from 3B Aaron Hill, an offseason acquisition who hit just six homers for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

    PREDICTION: Giants 5, Brewers 2


    Preview: Twins at Orioles

    GAME: Minnesota Twins (0-0) at Baltimore Orioles (0-0)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, April 04 – 3:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland

    The Minnesota Twins are counting on the kids to anchor the lineup while the Baltimore Orioles went heavy on veteran sluggers in the offseason to try to keep pace in the American League East. Each team will get a look at its strategy in action when they Orioles host the Twins on Monday in the season opener.

    Minnesota spent years building up an enviable farm system and started to get a peek at some of the best prospects in the bunch when Miguel Sano made an impressive debut last season and center fielder Byron Buxton showed off briefly before getting hurt. Buxton, 22, who was the top prospect in baseball entering last season, has been given the opening day job in center field and will be flanked by Sano (22) in right and Eddie Rosario (24) in left. Baltimore brought back first baseman Chris Davis with a seven-year, $161 million contract, traded for Mark Trumbo and signed free agent Pedro Alvarez to a one-year deal to give them a trio of defensively-challenged sluggers for the middle of the lineup. Those three will make up the first base, right field and designated hitter slots while the pitchers try to keep any balls in play going toward standout defenders like Manny Machado, Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy.

    TV: 3:05 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), MASN (Baltimore)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Ervin Santana (2015: 7-5, 4.00 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Chris Tillman (2015: 11-11, 4.99)

    Santana is making his first career opening day start after sitting out the first 80 games last year due to a PED suspension. The 33-year-old Dominican went 5-1 with a 1.62 ERA over his final seven starts last season and earned the opening day nod with a solid spring. “It’s an honor,” Santana told the Twins’ official website. “I’m very happy for that. I’m just going to try to take it as a normal game and try not to do too much.”

    Tillman is making his third straight opening day start and hoping to bounce back from a down 2015 campaign. The California native posted a combined 3.52 ERA in 2013 and 2014 while throwing over 200 innings in each season but got off to a rough start in 2015 and was carrying a 6.22 ERA as late as June 21 before gradually improving over the course of the second half. “Collectively, it’s important for all of us to pitch well on the night that we get the ball,” Tillman told reporters. “Opening Day is important because it’s the first game of the new season and everyone’s excited – it’s a whole new opportunity – but I think baseball is good in the fact that we do have 162 games, so we have plenty of starts to show up for.”


    1. The Orioles released RHP Miguel Gonzalez and RHP Kevin Gausman (shoulder) will begin the season on the DL.

    2. Korean 1B Byung Ho Park signed a four-year, $12 million deal after Minnesota won his negotiating rights and will serve as the team’s DH after a strong spring.

    3. Baltimore OF Hyun Soo Kim, who signed a two-year, $7 million deal out of Korea in the offseason, refused to accept a minor league assignment and will serve as an extra outfielder.

    PREDICTION: Twins 6, Orioles 5


    Preview: Mariners at Rangers

    GAME: Seattle Mariners (0-0) at Texas Rangers (0-0)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, April 04 – 4:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Globe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington, Texas

    Felix Hernandez has experienced a lot of change during his brilliant 11-year career with the Seattle Mariners, although one thing has remained the same: no postseason appearances. The six-time All-Star will begin the arduous task of trying to end his team’s 15-year playoff drought Monday when the Mariners visit the Texas Rangers in the season opener for both teams.

    Since Lou Piniella guided Seattle to the postseason in his penultimate season as the team’s skipper in 2001, eight managers have failed to get the Mariners back – a revolving door the club hopes new manager Scott Servais can bring to an end. Hernandez has typically made life easy on Opening Day for each of his managers over that stretch, going 7-0 with a 1.71 ERA in nine such starts. Texas took advantage of a late-season collapse by the Houston Astros to win the American League West, but last season also left a bitter taste in the Rangers’ mouth after they failed to close out the Toronto Blue Jays in the best-of-five AL Division Series despite taking the first two games. Cole Hamels, who went 7-1 with a 3.66 ERA after being acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies at the trade deadline, will try to outduel Hernandez and get Texas its first win in an opener since 2012.

    TV: 4:05 p.m. ET; ESPN, ROOT (Seattle), FSN Southwest (Texas)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners RH Felix Hernandez (2015: 18-9, 3.53 ERA) vs. Rangers LH Cole Hamels (2015: 13-8, 3.65)

    Hernandez will make his eighth straight Opening Day appearance – the longest such streak in the majors – and take the mound in a season opener for a club-record ninth time Monday. The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner had his way last year with the Rangers, holding them to a .168 average while going 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA. Hernandez has dominated Prince Fielder (2-for-25) and Rougned Odor (2-for-17) throughout his career and is 25-12 with a 2.50 ERA in 51 April outings.

    Hamels won each of his four decisions at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in 2015, fanning at least eight in five of his last seven starts at the venue following the trade. The three-time All-Star faced the Mariners four times over that two-month stretch, going 2-1 with a 4.00 ERA and capping it off with a 12-strikeout effort in his last start against them on Sept. 19. Robinson Cano has faced Hamels more than any other Seattle hitter, but is only 3-for-18 against him.


    1. Seattle went 12-7 against Texas in 2015, including 6-3 in Arlington.

    2. Hamels will be the eighth different Opening Day starter in as many years for the Rangers.

    3. Mariners 2B Robison Cano ended 2015 on a 16-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in the majors at the end of the season.

    PREDICTION: Mariners 4, Rangers 2


    Preview: Nationals at Braves

    GAME: Washington Nationals (0-0) at Atlanta Braves (0-0)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, April 04 – 4:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia

    The Washington Nationals are not the overwhelming favorite to win the National League East this season, and that might be a good thing considering how badly Washington handled those expectations a season ago. With new manager Dusty Baker at the helm and reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper anchoring a talented lineup, the Nationals open the 2016 season Monday at the Atlanta Braves looking to return to the postseason – and put last year’s shortcomings behind them.

    “Baker understands the mentality; he understands the grind of 162 games,” Harper told reporters this spring in describing Baker, whose first season in the nation’s capital may hinge on good health and bounce-back campaigns from Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman. Atlanta stuck to its rebuilding plan over the winter, continuing to stockpile prospects and shed contracts as the Braves prepare to move into a new stadium in 2017. An offense that finished last in baseball in runs scored needs Freddie Freeman to stay healthy after he missed almost two full months with a wrist injury. “We’ve got a good team this year, and hopefully that translates on the field when the season begins,” Freeman told reporters this spring.

    TV: 4:10 p.m. ET, MASN2 (Washington), FSN Southeast (Atlanta)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Max Scherzer (2015: 14-12, 2.79 ERA) vs. Braves RH Julio Teheran (2015: 11-8, 4.04)

    Scherzer lived up to the billing in his debut season with Washington, throwing two no-hitters – including a 17-strikeout gem against the Mets in the season finale – and leading the NL in complete games (four) while finishing second in strikeouts (276). The 31-year-old lost double-digit games for the first time since 2010 with the Nationals scoring two runs or fewer in 11 of his 33 starts. Scherzer lost his only start against the Braves last season, giving up two runs on five hits in 8 1/3 innings July 2 in a 2-1 road loss.

    Teheran’s ERA rose by 1.15 from his All-Star campaign in 2014 as he struggled with command issues for most of the year, but gave up three earned runs or fewer in 11 of his final 12 starts and posted a 1.62 ERA across his final six outings. The 25-year-old made 33 starts a year ago, tied for tops in the NL along with Scherzer and eight others, and was outstanding at home – going 8-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 17 starts. Teheran did not get a decision in three starts against the Nationals last season, posting a 5.40 ERA while allowing 25 hits in 16 2/3 innings.


    1. The Nationals dominated Atlanta in 2015, winning 14-of-19 matchups while outscoring the Braves 112-58.

    2. Harper blasted a league-leading 42 homers with 99 RBIs while hitting .330 last season, at 22 becoming the third-youngest player to win the NL MVP award.

    3. The Braves come in after their worst season since 1990, going 67-95 in 2015, and open their final season in Turner Field before moving to SunTrust Park in the Atlanta suburb of Smyrna next year.

    PREDICTION: Nationals 4, Braves 1


    Preview: Phillies at Reds

    GAME: Philadelphia Phillies (0-0) at Cincinnati Reds (0-0)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, April 04 – 4:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio

    After finishing with the two worst records in baseball last season, the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds are ready to begin a new campaign in hopes of more success. The Phillies visit the Reds on Monday in the first of three games between the teams that will pick first and second in this year’s amateur draft.

    The Phillies will pick first in the draft and the Reds will pick second after finishing with 63 and 64 wins, respectively, in 2015. The draft will be a big key for both franchises, which have dealt away significant talent in the last year or two, and both squads will give the ball to relative unknowns on Opening Day. Philadelphia will turn to former Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson, who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks over the winter. Raisel Igelesias, who has 16 career starts, gets the nod for Cincinnati and likely will be capped at 90 pitches. On the bright side, the Phillies have some young offensive pieces centered around third baseman Maikel Franco, while the Reds’ lineup – featuring veterans Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips – could be solid this season.

    TV: 4:10 p.m. ET, CSN (Philadelphia), FSN Ohio (Cincinnati)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Phillies RH Jeremy Hellickson (2015: 9-12, 4.62 ERA) vs. Reds RH Raisel Iglesias (2015: 3-7, 4.15)

    Hellickson has been a double-digit game winner three times in his career – and nearly a fourth last season – although he is joining his third team in as many years. He gave up three runs or fewer in five of his final six starts last season and is coming off a very solid spring training. Hellickson, who turns 29 later this week, posted a 3.31 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in four spring training starts with a .172 opponents’ batting average.

    Iglesias made three starts in the spring, logging a total of six innings and yielding six runs – four earned. The 26-year-old Cuban finished with 104 strikeouts against 28 walks as a rookie a season ago but will be facing Philadelphia for the first time. He only worked more than seven innings once in 2015, although he showed flashes of brilliance, such as when he struck out 13 while allowing three hits over seven innings against Arizona last August.


    1. Votto (.455 batting average) and Phillips (.375) each enjoyed a particularly strong spring training.

    2. Franco hit nine homers this spring after belting 14 in 80 games as a rookie in 2015.

    3. Phillies 1B Ryan Howard, a former National League MVP with 357 career home runs, is expected to platoon with 1B Darin Ruf.

    PREDICTION: Reds 9, Phillies 7


    Preview: Red Sox at Indians

    GAME: Boston Red Sox (0-0) at Cleveland Indians (0-0)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, April 04 – 4:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio

    Fresh off a third last-place finish in four years, the Boston Red Sox went out over the winter and did something they refused to do the previous winter by shelling out big money for a free-agent starting pitcher. David Price will make his team debut when the Red Sox visit the Cleveland Indians on Monday for opening day.

    Boston brought in veteran front office executive Dave Dombrowski late last season, and he set about tinkering with the roster by trading away prospects for closer Craig Kimbrel and outbidding a host of suitors with a seven-year, $217 million contract for Price. The former Cy Young Award winner gives the Red Sox the ace left-hander they lost when they were out-bid for Jon Lester the previous year and headlines a staff that finished 14th in the American League with a 4.31 ERA last season, ahead of only Dombrowski’s Detroit Tigers. Boston is trying to replicate the success it had under former manager Terry Francona, who is currently trying to guide the Indians to those same heights. Cleveland was second in the AL with a 3.67 ERA last season and is hoping a full season from 22-year-old stud shortstop Francisco Lindor can give the offense the boost it needs to support the pitching and lead the team to the postseason.

    TV: 4:10 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH David Price (2015: 18-5, 2.45 ERA) vs. Indians RH Corey Kluber (2015: 9-16, 3.49)

    Price went 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts with the Blue Jays to close out last season, helping that team take the AL East. The 30-year-old former No. 1 overall pick has not posted an ERA higher than 3.49 since his 2009 rookie season and is expected to carry the staff. “We’ve added a guy who is very comfortable with that label, that No. 1 guy that other players look up to, whether you’re a pitcher or a position player,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters. “They look to that one guy knowing that when he walks to the mound, we’ve got a chance to beat anyone we go up against.”

    Kluber won the 2014 Cy Young Award and draws similar praise from his organization for his influence on the rest of the staff. “That’s the biggest key to our success,” Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway told of Kluber’s emergence. “If you go back and look, once Kluber became the main leader, everything changed. Everything changed for Danny (Salazar), everything changed for (Carlos) Carrasco.” Kluber battled some inconsistency and poor run support in 2015 but finished third in the AL with 245 strikeouts.


    1. Red Sox INF Travis Shaw beat out Pablo Sandoval for the starting 3B spot.

    2. Cleveland LF Michael Brantley (shoulder), who led the AL with 45 doubles last season, is expected to begin the season on the 15-day DL.

    3. Boston DH David Ortiz, 40, is beginning his final season.

    PREDICTION: Red Sox 5, Indians 4


    Preview: Dodgers at Padres

    GAME: Los Angeles Dodgers (0-0) at San Diego Padres (0-0)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, April 04 – 7:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Petco Park, San Diego, California

    The injury bug has already hit the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will be without several starters Monday as they open the 2016 season against the host San Diego Padres. Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts will be without catcher Yasmani Grandal, second baseman Howie Kendrick and left fielder Andre Ethier, but he has ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound for his managerial debut.

    While Ethier is expected to miss the first half because of a fractured right leg, Grandal (right forearm strain) and Kendrick (strained left calf muscle) could return as soon as the team’s April 12 home opener. Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke are expected to fill in for Ethier and platoon in left field for the Dodgers, who are seeking their fourth straight National League West title. The Padres have missed the playoffs for nine straight seasons and face another rebuilding year under rookie manager Andy Green, but the team boasts a strong starting rotation and two bounce-back candidates in right fielder Matt Kemp and first baseman Wil Myers. Opening day marks the Padres debut of shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who was signed as a free agent after hitting .249 with 10 home runs and 62 RBIs with the Chicago White Sox last season.

    TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, ESPN, SportsNet LA (Los Angeles), FSN San Diego

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Clayton Kershaw (2015: 16-7, 2.13 ERA) vs. Padres RH Tyson Ross (2015: 10-12, 3.26 ERA)

    Kershaw is set to make his sixth consecutive opening day start for the Dodgers after recording a career-high-tying 33 starts last season while reaching 300 strikeouts for the first time in his illustrious career. The three-time Cy Young winner, who posted a 1.96 ERA in six spring training starts, owns a 12-6 record and 2.25 ERA in 27 career starts against San Diego. Myers is 0-for-8 with five strikeouts against Kershaw, who gave up three runs and in six innings while striking out nine Padres in a 6-3 victory on opening day last season.

    Green named Ross as the Padres’ opening day starter on the first day of spring training workouts after the 28-year-old set career-bests in innings (196) and strikeouts (212) last season. “I think he’s got the best stuff in baseball,” Padres catcher Austin Hedges told reporters. “He makes a lot of guys look pretty bad.” Carl Crawford is 9-for-18 against Ross, who is 0-6 in 10 career games (eight starts) against the Dodgers despite posting a 2.67 ERA over that stretch.


    1. The Dodgers have won five straight and seven of their past eight season openers.

    2. San Diego signed RHP Jeremy Guthrie, who will report to Triple-A El Paso.

    3. RHP Ross Stripling was named the Dodgers’ fifth starter and will make his major league debut Friday at San Francisco.

    PREDICTION: Dodgers 4, Padres 2


    Preview: Blue Jays at Rays

    GAME: Toronto Blue Jays (1-0) at Tampa Bay Rays (0-1)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, April 04 – 7:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida

    Edwin Encarnacion didn’t need much action in the spring to find his form in the regular-season opener for the Toronto Blue Jays, knocking in a pair of runs with two hits. The veteran designated hitter will try to add some more production as the Blue Jays go for two in a row against the host Tampa Bay Rays on Monday in the second contest of their four-game series.

    Encarnacion, who belted 39 homers in 2015, was limited to five minor-league games in the spring due to an abscessed tooth and a minor oblique injury before going 2-for-4 on Sunday while Troy Tulowitzki drilled a two-run homer. R.A. Dickey gets the start Monday for Toronto after Marcus Stroman’s solid effort of eight-plus innings led to a 5-3 victory in the opener and will oppose Drew Smyly. The Rays scored two runs in the ninth inning, including a solo blast by Corey Dickerson in his debut with the team, after managing only an RBI single by Evan Longoria in the first eight. Tampa Bay’s other three newcomers in the lineup – Logan Morrison, Hank Conger and Brad Miller – combined for one hit in 11 at-bats.

    TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, Sportsnet (Toronto), Sun Sports (Tampa Bay)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays RH R.A. Dickey (2015: 11-11, 3.91 ERA) vs. Rays LH Drew Smyly (2015: 5-2, 3.11)

    Dickey got off to a slow start last year before finishing strong with eight victories in his final nine decisions and registered a 2.43 ERA in September. The 41-year-old knuckleballer was a much better pitcher at home (9-3, 3.11 ERA) than on the road (2-8, 4.83) last season. Longoria is 11-for-43 with two homers and eight RBIs versus Dickey, who was 1-3 with a 4.40 ERA against the Rays in 2015.

    Smyly missed three months last season with a shoulder injury and appears to be ready to go, allowing six runs and 10 hits in 20 innings during the spring. The 26-year-old Arkansas native returned in late August last year and won his final five decisions while posting a 2.50 ERA in September. Josh Donaldson is 5-for-8 with a pair of doubles and a homer against Smyly, who has allowed two runs in 16 1/3 career innings versus Toronto.


    1. Toronto signed free-agent LH Franklin Morales on Saturday and optioned RH Ryan Tepera to Triple-A Buffalo.

    2. Longoria made his eighth Opening Day start – all at 3B – to tie OF Carl Crawford for the franchise record.

    3. Despite the loss, the Rays are 53-24 against the Blue Jays at home since Sept. 8, 2007.

    PREDICTION: Blue Jays 6, Rays 4


    Preview: Rockies at Diamondbacks

    GAME: Colorado Rockies (0-0) at Arizona Diamondbacks (0-0)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, April 04 – 9:40 PM EST
    WHERE: Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona

    The Arizona Diamondbacks were one of the top offensive teams in the National League last season and could also sport one of the best pitching staffs thanks to their strong offseason as they host the Colorado Rockies on Monday. Arizona, which finished second in the NL in runs scored in 2015, added Zack Greinke via free agency and Shelby Miller in a trade with Atlanta to a staff that also includes Patrick Corbin, who is priming for his first full season since 2013 because of Tommy John surgery.

    The Diamondbacks’ offense took a hit, however, as A.J. Pollock fractured his right elbow Friday and could miss the entire season. Colorado led the senior circuit in runs last year but still finished in the basement of the NL West, registering more wins (68) than only Philadelphia (63), Cincinnati (64) and Atlanta (67). Nolan Arenado was a huge offensive contributor as he led the NL with 42 home runs and the majors with 130 RBIs. The Rockies enter the season with a new closer in left-hander Jake McGee, who was acquired from Tampa Bay in January and has held right-handed batters to a .190 average over his career.

    TV: 9:40 p.m. ET, ROOT (Colorado), FSN Arizona

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Rockies LH Jorge De La Rosa (2015: 9-7, 4.17 ERA) vs. Diamondbacks RH Zack Greinke (2015: 19-3, 1.66)

    De La Rosa is the Rockies’ all-time leader in victories (78) and strikeouts (877) but has struggled in the early going over the last few seasons. The native of Mexico, who turns 35 on Tuesday, posted a 4.18 ERA over six April starts in 2013 and yielded 14 runs over his first three outings the following year – failing to last five innings each time – before being tagged for nine runs (seven earned) over two frames in his debut versus San Diego last season. “It’s probably I don’t get my rhythm yet,” he told the team’s website. “I’m probably finding myself. It takes a little bit to make good pitches.”

    Greinke makes his debut for Arizona after signing a six-year deal worth $206.5 million over the winter. The 32-year-old former American League Cy Young Award winner, who was runner-up for the NL honors last season, opted out of the final three years of his contract with Los Angeles after posting the second-lowest ERA in the storied history of the Dodgers. Greinke, who has posted 15 or more victories each of the last five seasons but has yet to reach the 20-win plateau, recorded 200 strikeouts last year for the fifth time in his career.


    1. The Rockies assigned LH Yohan Flande, who is not on the 40-man roster and is out of options, to minor-league camp in order to avoid exposing him to waivers early in the season.

    2. Arizona INF-OF Brandon Drury earned a roster spot after recording four homers and 13 RBIs in spring training.

    3. Colorado RH Jordan Lyles will start the team’s home opener against San Diego on Friday.

    PREDICTION: Diamondbacks 7, Rockies 3


    Preview: White Sox at Athletics

    GAME: Chicago White Sox (0-0) at Oakland Athletics (0-0)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, April 04 – 10:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California

    Roster turnover was inevitable when the Chicago White Sox finished last season with the American League’s worst offense, wasting another fine year from Chris Sale. The record-setting southpaw figures to benefit from more run support in 2016 and looks to take advantage of it beginning Monday when the retooled White Sox travel to Oakland on Opening Day to start a four-game set with the Athletics.

    Although Jose Abreu (30 home runs, 101 RBIs) enjoyed another banner season and Adam Eaton had a career year (98 runs, 14 homers and 18 steals), only the Atlanta Braves (573) and Miami Marlins (613) scored fewer runs than Chicago (622). The White Sox addressed their offense in a big way over the winter, however, bringing in a slew of veterans highlighted by two-time All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier. Oakland fell 20 victories short of its 88-win team in 2014 last year and ended up in the cellar of the American League West, going a league-worst 19-35 in one-run games. The Athletics hope the additions of relievers Ryan Madson and Jon Axford along with the healthy return of closer Sean Doolittle can preserve more wins this time around for Sonny Gray, who will get the call opposite Sale.

    TV: 10:05 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, CSN California (Oakland)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: White Sox LH Chris Sale (2015: 13-11, 3.41 ERA) vs. Athletics RH Sonny Gray (2015: 14-7, 2.73)

    Sale posted his third consecutive campaign with at least 200 strikeouts in 2015, setting a single-season club record with an AL-best 274. The four-time All-Star has won each of his first two Opening Day assignments at home but will attempt to get his first such win on the road. Sale did not face Oakland last season but dominated the Athletics in his only start against them in 2014, yielding two singles and fanning nine over eight frames in a win.

    Gray will also be making his third consecutive Opening Day start after a third-place finish in the AL Cy Young Award voting a year ago. The 26-year-old one-time All-Star has been dominant in 10 April starts thus far in his career, going 7-1 with a 2.02 ERA after cruising through the season’s first month in 2015 (3-0, 1.98 in five outings). Gray turned in his worst start of the season against the White Sox last year, however, surrendering seven runs over three innings in a loss on Sept. 14.


    1. The Athletics will open the season with 10 of their first 13 at Coliseum. Oakland tied the Cincinnati Reds for the fewest home wins (34) in the majors last season.

    2. Chicago belted a league-best 51 home runs this spring after tying the San Francisco Giants for 26th place in the majors with 136 last season.

    3. Oakland CF Billy Burns batted .455 against Chicago last season, his best mark against any club.

    PREDICTION: White Sox 3, Athletics 1


    Preview: Cubs at Angels

    GAME: Chicago Cubs (0-0) at Los Angeles Angels (0-0)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, April 04 – 10:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, California

    Chicago Cubs fans have been waiting for next year since 1908, but the return of a talented young nucleus from last season’s team that reached the National League Championship Series and the addition of several high-profile free agents has propelled high expectations that this finally could be the year the Cubs end their drought. They’ll begin that quest against another team with high hopes when they open a two-game road series against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.

    The Cubs made a splash in the offseason by signing outfielder Jason Heyward, second baseman Ben Zobrist and pitcher John Lackey to go along with an impressive group of young stars that includes Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. The Angels have missed the playoffs in five of the last six years but solidified their defense by trading for shortstop Andrelton Simmons and have a dangerous duo in the middle of the lineup with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Newcomer Yunel Escobar also figures to be a spark at the top of the lineup and has had success against Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, going 7-for-19 with a homer against him. Arrieta is in line for his second career Opening Day start and will oppose Garrett Richards, who makes his first start on Opening Day.

    TV: 10:05 p.m. ET, ABC 7 (Chicago), ESPN2

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jake Arrieta (2015: 22-6, 1.77 ERA) vs. Angels RH Garrett Richards (2015: 15-12, 3.65)

    Arrieta will be hard-pressed to pick up where he left off last year, when he won his last 11 decisions en route to the NL Cy Young Award. The 30-year-old recorded 20 straight quality starts to finish the 2015 campaign and allowed more than two earned runs only once during that stretch. Arrieta has struggled to an 0-1 record and 7.47 ERA in three starts against the Angels, but he hasn’t faced them since 2012.

    Richards looked like a bona fide ace in 2014 before having his season cut short by a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, and he took a step back in his return from the injury last year. The 27-year-old closed the season with four straight quality starts, however, and allowed three runs or fewer in seven of his last eight outings. Richards has been tough to beat at home, going 21-10 with a 3.47 ERA in his career.


    1. Chicago SS Addison Russell, one of nine Cubs who reached double digits in home runs last season, led the team with five blasts in spring training.

    2. Simmons hit safely in the final 10 games of 2015, batting .351 over that stretch.

    3. Zobrist, who has spent his entire career in the American League, is 6-for-11 with a homer versus Richards.

    PREDICTION: Cubs 5, Angels 3


    Preview: Astros at Yankees

    GAME: Houston Astros (0-0) at New York Yankees (0-0)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, April 04 – 1:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

    Houston Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel followed up a Cy Young Award campaign last year with a dominant performance against the New York Yankees in the American League wild-card game. The Astros’ ace will be on the mound in the Bronx again on Opening Day as Houston begins a three-game series with the Yankees on Monday.

    Keuchel was Houston’s first 20-game winner in 10 years and then tossed six scoreless innings to lead the Astros past the Yankees last October, a highlight on his team’s remarkable rise that has altered expectations going forward. “We want to bring a winner here – a perennial winner,” manager A.J. Hinch – who ended a string of six straight losing seasons in his first year at the helm – recently told reporters. “We want to bring a championship here. … This city is aligned with what we’re doing and we feel that energy when (the stadium) fills up.” The Yankees are expected to start newcomer Aaron Hicks in place of either big-money center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who was benched against Keuchel in the playoffs, or left fielder Brett Gardner. New York, which has also lost consecutive season series against Houston after opening 13-2 versus the Astros, has won 20 of its last 24 home openers.

    TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, ESPN, ROOT Southwest (Houston), YES (New York)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros LH Dallas Keuchel (2015: 20-8, 2.48 ERA) vs. Yankees RH Masahiro Tanaka (2015: 12-7, 3.51)

    Keuchel – who last season topped the AL in wins, WHIP (1.017) and innings (232) – had 22 scoreless frames in three starts against the Yankees, including the playoff outing. However, he was a bit more human on the road overall, going 5-8 with a 3.77 ERA. The University of Arkansas product was unscored upon in 17 innings this spring, striking out 16 and limiting opponents to just seven hits.

    Tanaka had offseason surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow and endured a rocky spring (7.36 ERA in four starts). He saw his ERA jump nearly a run last year following a stellar rookie campaign but managed to make four more starts in his second straight injury-marred season. The 27-year-old allowed two runs in five innings opposite Keuchel in the wild-card game and gave up six runs in five frames in his only regular-season encounter with the Astros.


    1. New York LHP Andrew Miller threw two-thirds of an inning Saturday in Miami and is expected to be able to pitch through a chip fracture in his glove hand suffered last week.

    2. Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez enters the season needing 13 home runs to become the fourth member of the 700-homer club.

    3. Astros SS Carlos Correa, a trendy preseason MVP choice, hit .378 with four home runs in 18 spring training games.

    PREDICTION: Astros 3, Yankees 2


    National League games

    Giants @ Brewers
    Bumgarner is 0-2, 3.92 in his last three starts; six of his last eight starts went over; he has a 5-2, 1.96 mark against Milwaukee, in eight career starts.

    Peralta is 0-2, 7.02 in his last four starts; his last four starts went over. He is 3-1, 4.85 in his five starts against the Giants.

    Giants won five of six games with Milwaukee LY.

    Nationals @ Braves
    Scherzer is 3-1, 1.63 in his last five starts; under is 3-1-1 in his last five starts. He gave up two runs in 8.1 IP in losing his only start vs Atlanta LY.

    Teheran is 2-1, 1.54 in his last six starts (under 4-1-1). He is 3-2, 3.65 in 11 career starts vs Washington.

    Washington was 14-5 against the Braves last year.

    Phillies @ Reds
    Hellickson is 0-4, 5.52 in his last four starts; four of his last five starts stayed under. He lost his only career start vs Cincinnati, allowing four runs (three earned) in six IP.

    Iglesias is 0-3, 4.54 in his last five starts; his last three starts went over. He hasn’t pitched against the Phillies.

    Philly lost four of six games with Cincinnati LY.

    Dodgers @ Padres
    Kershaw is 3-1, 2.01 in his last five starts; under is 6-4 in his last 10 starts. He was 0-0, 3.20 in three starts vs San Diego LY.

    Ross is 0-3, 3.19 in his last five starts (under 3-1-1). He was 0-1, 2.25 in two starts against the Dodgers LY.

    Dodgers were 14-5 against San Diego last year.

    Rockies @ Diamondacks
    De La Rosa is 2-1, 2.06 in his last four starts; six of his last seven starts stayed under total. He is 9-8, 2.94 in 22 career starts against Arizona.

    Greinke makes his Arizona debut here; he is 7-1, 1.97 in his last nine starts. Six of last nine Greinke starts stayed under the total. He was 2-1, 1.23 in five starts vs San Diego LY.

    Colorado was 6-13 against the Diamoondbacks LY.

    American League games

    Astros @ Bronx
    Keuchel is 5-0, 1.34 in his last five starts; three of his last four starts stayed under. He has a career mark of 2-1, 1.13 in three starts against the Bronx Bombers.

    Tanaka is 1-2, 2.61 in his last five starts (under 4-1). He allowed six runs in five IP in his only start against the Astros.

    Astros beat Bronx in Wild Card Game LY, they were 4-3 in the seres LY.

    Twins @ Orioles
    Santana is 5-1, 1.62 in his last seven starts; under is 4-1-1 in his last six outings. He is 4-5, 4.98 in 14 career starts against Baltimore.

    Tillman is 2-0, 3.38 in his last three starts; over is 4-2-1 in his last seven starts. He is 0-4, 4.82 in six career starts against Minnesota.

    Twins won all seven games with Baltimore last year.

    Mariners @ Rangers
    Hernandez is 4-1, 2.74 in his last six starts; over is 5-2-1 in his last eight starts. He was 5-0, 1.83 in five starts against Texas LY.

    Hamels is 4-1, 4.14 in his last six starts; over is 8-0-1 in his last nine starts. He was 2-1, 4.00 in four starts against Seattle LY.

    Seattle was 12-7 against the Rangers LY.

    Red Sox @ Indians
    Price makes his Boston debut here; he is 1-2, 6.17 in his last four starts. He is 9-2, 2.19 in 13 career starts against Cleveland.

    Kluber is 1-4, 4.57 in his last seven starts; his last three starts stayed under. He is 1-2, 4.91 in six career starts against Boston.

    Boston lost four of six games with Cleveland LY.

    Rays @ Blue Jays
    Dickey is 1-1, 3.70 in his last five starts (over 4-0-1). He is 7-8, 4.20 in 18 career starts vs Tampa Bay.

    Smyly is 5-0, 2.74 in his last eight starts; over is 4-2-1 in his last seven. He is 1-0, 1.10 in his five career appearances (two starts) against Toronto.

    Jays-Rays are 10-10 in their last 20 series games. .

    White Sox @ A’s
    Sale is 1-4, 5.81 in his last five starts (under 4-1). He is 3-2, 2.90 in five starts vs Oakland.

    Gray is 2-2, 6.61 in his last six starts; six of his last seven starts went over. He is 0-0, 8.10 (nine ER in 10 IP) in two career starts against the White Sox.

    Chicago was 5-2 against the A’s LY.

    Interleague games

    Cubs @ Angels
    Arrieta is 5-1, 1.73 in his last six starts; under is 8-1-1 in his last ten starts. He is 0-1, 7.47 in his three career starts against the Angels.

    Richards is 2-1, 3.58 in his last four starts; four of his last five starts went over. This is his first career start against the Cubs.

    Cubs and Angels didn’t play LY.


    StatFox Situational Power Trends™ – FoxSheets

    TEXAS is 52-40 (+25.4 Units) against the money line when the total is 7 to 8.5 over the last 2 seasons.
    The average score was: TEXAS (4.5) , OPPONENT (4.4)



    5 unit – Dodgers -1.5 Runs +105

    5 unit – Blue Jays / Rays – OVER 7.5 Runs

    5 unit – White Sox 1st 5 innings -105

    5 unit – Baltimore Orioles -120

    5 unit – Houston Astros -125

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