It was a good news/bad news weekend for the Texas Rangers. The good was that they won the final three games of their series with visiting Boston and Josh Hamilton looks completely rejuvenated. He hit two homers on Friday and then had the pinch-hit, walk-off double on Sunday to give Texas its first series victory at home all year. The bad was that third baseman Adrian Beltre suffered a sprain and laceration of his left thumb and will miss at least two weeks. Beltre, who had two hits and two RBIs against the Red Sox, suffered the injury sliding into second base in the fifth inning Sunday. At least X-rays were negative. Beltre is hitting .257 with six homers and 18 RBIs this season.
Free $60 in Member MLB Picks No Obligation Click Here
White Sox at Rangers (-103, 9)
Jeff Samardzija (4-2, 3.84) is starting to pitch how the White Sox expected as they have won his past three starts and he allowed one fewer run in each: 3, 2, 1, in lowering his ERA from 4.80. This will be his first look at Texas this season. Hamilton is 2-for-6 with two homers and four RBIs off him. Prince Fielder is 3-for-8 with a homer and three knocked in. It's Colby Lewis (4-3, 4.70) for Texas. He was destroyed in his last start, allowing 10 runs and 11 hits in 2.2 innings in Cleveland to see his ERA jump from 3.49. He has been solid at home with a 1-0 record and 3.55 ERA in four starts. Melky Cabrera is 3-for-6 with two doubles and an RBI off him. Jose Abreu has two singles in six at-bats.
Key trends: The Sox are 5-1 in their past six series openers. Texas is 8-1 in its past nine after a win. Texas is 0-7 in Lewis' past seven vs. teams with a losing record. The "over/under" has gone under in Chicago's past eight after scoring five runs or more in its previous game.
Early lean: White Sox and over.
Twins at Red Sox (-138, 8.5)
It's the Fort Myers series here -- both clubs call that Gulf Coast Florida city as their spring home. I keep waiting for Boston to snap out of its struggles, but the Sox just lost six of seven games on a road trip and have the worst run differential in the American League. Boston's Rick Porcello (4-4, 5.37) is having another rough patch. He has given up 13 runs and 14 hits over his past 11.1 innings in a home loss to the Angels and a defeat at Minnesota. Torii Hunter hits .412 with a homer and eight RBIs off him. Brian Dozier is 7-for-27 with three homers and eight RBIs. The Twins' Phil Hughes (4-4, 4.59) beat Boston last time out, allowing four runs and six hits over 6.2 innings. Dustin Pedroia hits .342 off him with five dingers and 14 RBIs in 38 at-bats. Mike Napoli is 6-for-18 with two homers and six RBIs.
Key trends: The Twins are 10-1 in their past 11 during Game 2 of a series. The Twins are 1-5 in Hughes' past six on the road. The Sox are 1-6 in their past seven in Game 2 of a series. The under is 4-0 in Hughes' past four on Tuesday.
Early lean: Twins and over.
Cubs at Marlins (-102, 7.5)
With the key injuries the Cardinals have suffered, the Cubs might now win the NL Central if Kyle Hendricks (1-1, 3.76) keeps pitching like he has of late. The second-year starter has given up just one run and nine hits over 16 innings in winning his past two. His ERA before that was 5.15, so I'm not convinced this will continue for long. This will be his first career start vs. Miami. New Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon has seen him, however, going 1-for-3. It's Brad Hand (Mr. Hand!) for the Marlins. The lefty came out of the bullpen for this first start of the season in Pittsburgh on Wednesday and blanked the Pirates over five innings. He has never faced the Cubs.
Key trends: The Cubs are 6-0 in their past six Game 2s of a series. They are 8-1 in Hendricks' past nine following a quality start in his last appearance. The under is 6-2 in Hendricks' past eight starts vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Cubs and over.
Blue Jays at Nationals (-221, 7)
Here's an interesting stat: the Jays are 2-24 when scoring four runs or fewer and 1-21 when scoring three runs or fewer this season entering Monday's series opener. Third baseman Josh Donaldson is pushing his way into the AL MVP race with six homers in his past six games. He's hitting .312 with 15 homers and 39 RBIs. Donaldson will face Nationals ace Max Scherzer (6-3, 1.51). He comes off a dominating effort vs. the Cubs, shutting them out on five hits over seven innings and striking out a season-high 13. This will be his first start of the season against an AL team. Donaldson is 1-for-8 with a triple off him. Jose Bautista is 9-for-17 with four doubles and a homer. But will he be able to play the outfield with his bum shoulder? Bautista has been limited to DHing, and there's no DH in this series. Marco Estrada (1-3, 3.89) goes for Toronto. The Jays have lost his past five. Bryce Harper is 2-for-4 with a double off him. Ryan Zimmerman is 2-for-7 with a homer and four RBIs.
Key trends: The Jays are 1-4 in their past five in Game 2 of a series. The Nats are 4-0 in Scherzer's past four vs. teams with a losing record. The under has hit in five of Scherzer's past seven overall.
Early lean: Nationals at -110 on runline and over.
Pirates at Giants (-107, 6.5)
I mentioned when previewing A.J. Burnett's last start that I expected his dominating run to end pretty soon. Burnett (5-1, 1.81) did win in San Diego on Thursday but allowed a season-high five runs and eight hits in just 5.2 innings -- his first start this year allowing more than two runs. He hasn't faced San Francisco this season. Nori Aoki is 5-for-13 with three doubles off him. Buster Posey is 3-for-7 with an RBI. The Giants' Chris Heston (5-3, 3.82) had his best start of the season last time out vs. Atlanta, shutting out the Braves on four hits over 7.1 innings. He's only in the rotation because of injuries to Jake Peavy and Matt Cain. Heston has never faced Pittsburgh.
Key trends: The Pirates are 3-7 in Burnett's past 10 road starts vs. teams with a winning record. San Francisco has won six straight Tuesday games. The over is 5-0 in Heston's past five overall.
Early lean: Giants and over.
Get free picks from any Doc's Sports handicapper - there is no obligation for this offer and no credit card required. Just sign up for an account, and you can use the $60 in free picks for any Doc's Sports Advisory Board handicapper and any sport. Click here to get started now.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent Baseball Handicapping Articles
- Expert MLB Handicapping: Does Machado Make Padres a Contender?
- 2019 MLB Season Win Totals Predictions
- Baseball Betting Advice: MLB Teams that Could Surprise
- MLB Betting Trends: Handicapping the Best and Worst on Moneyline from Last Season
- MLB Teams that Could Disappoint Bettors in 2019
- MLB Betting Advice for 2019: Toughest Aces to Handicap
- 2019 Minnesota Twins Predictions
- 2019 Atlanta Braves Predictions
- MLB Spring Training Betting Advice and Expert Baseball Handicapping
- 2019 World Series Predictions