I've said it over and over again that spring training stats simply don't matter for players or teams. Those ballparks are all very cozy for the fans and usually lead to gaudy offensive numbers. I mention this because of Yankees first baseman Greg Bird. If they were to give out an MVP of the Grapefruit League (the offense is even more pronounced in the Cactus League with the dry air) it would have gone to Bird. He hit .451 with eight homers and 15 RBIs in 51 at-bats. In the regular season, Bird is a ghastly 6-for-60 with 22 strikeouts, one homer, three RBIs and a .250 on-base percentage. The Yankees had to do something at first base so Bird conveniently was placed on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday with a bruised right ankle. Chris Carter and Matt Holliday should share first base most nights with Bird out and the other could play DH. Utilityman Rob Refsnyder was called up to replace Bird on the roster. It's possible that outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury could also be DL-bound with a bruised nerve in his left elbow.
Free $60 in Member MLB Picks No Obligation Click Here
Diamondbacks at Nationals ( -220, 7.5 )
A 1:05 p.m. ET getaway game. It was to be a matchup of former Cy Young winners but Arizona will not start 2009 winner (with Kansas City) Zack Greinke as he'll go Friday. Instead, it's 25-year-old Braden Shipley. He was 4-5 with 5.27 ERA in 70 innings last year as a rookie. This season in Triple-A, Shipley was 3-1 with a 4.18 ERA over 28 innings. He's taking the rotation spot of Shelby Miller, who is out for the season due to Tommy John surgery. Many thought Archie Bradley would replace Miller, and maybe he will eventually, but the Snakes want to keep him in the bullpen for now as Bradley has been good out there. Washington's Max Scherzer pitched his first two big-league seasons with Arizona. He comes off his worst outing of the year in allowing five runs and nine hits over six innings in a loss to the Mets. Scherzer is 4-0 with a 2.65 ERA against the Snakes in five career outings. Paul Goldschmidt is 0-for-9 off him with six Ks.
Key trends: The Nationals are 0-4 in Scherzer's past four at home. The "over/under" is 5-2-1 in his past eight overall.
Early lean: Nationals and over.
White Sox at Royals (-135, 7.5)
A 2:15 p.m. ET start. One of the wise free-agent signings this past offseason so far has been lefty Derek Holland (2-2, 2.17) by the White Sox. He hasn't allowed more than two earned in any of his five starts and was charged with that many last time out in Detroit over 6.1 innings. This will be his fifth outing vs. an AL Central foe in 2017 but first vs. Kansas City. He hasn't seen the Royals in a few years. Eric Hosmer is 4-for-10 off him with two walks. Kansas City's Ian Kennedy (0-2, 2.30) could well be a trade candidate this summer like Holland. Kennedy ranks last in the majors in run support at 1.4 per game. He was 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four starts last year vs. the White Sox. Melky Cabrera is 6-for-21 with two homers off him.
Key trends: The Royals are 1-5 in Kennedy's past six vs. the AL Central. The under is 5-1 in his past five at home.
Early lean: White Sox and under.
Marlins at Rays (-121, 8)
Miami has the DH for this interleague finale. Tampa Bay activated outfielder Colby Rasmus off the DL on Tuesday. He was one of the team's top offseason acquisitions based on his combination of defense and power, but he was coming off hip and core muscle surgeries. Rasmus hit.206 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs last year in 107 games with Houston. Tampa goes with Matt Andriese (1-1, 3.86). He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in four straight starts, and last time out he snapped a string of 18 starts in which he threw six innings or fewer when he pitched seven in a loss in Toronto. Miami's Justin Bour is 1-for-3 off him with an RBI. The Marlins' Dan Straily (1-1, 4.15) also has held opponents under three earned or fewer in four straight outings. He has topped 5.1 innings just once all season. Rasmus is 2-for-5 off him.
Key trends: The Rays are 2-5 in Andriese's past seven starts. The over is 4-1 in his past five at home.
Early lean: Rays and over.
Mets at Braves (-114, 8.5)
There's been talk that the Mets could look to acquire someone like lefty Jaime Garcia from the Braves in the wake of Noah Syndergaard's injury and with a few other guys in the rotation on the DL. Garcia is a free agent after this season and wouldn't cost too much. He's 1-1 with a 3.99 ERA and has allowed exactly two earned runs in three straight outings. His Atlanta debut was April 6 at the Mets, taking the loss and allowing a season-high four earned. Jay Bruce is 11-for-51 off him with 12 strikeouts. New York's Zack Wheeler (1-2, 4.78) has struggled with consistency in his five starts. He lasted only 4.2 innings last time out in Washington thanks to four walks and five hits. Wheeler, a Georgia native, hasn't faced the Braves in a couple of years. Freddie Freeman is 7-for-14 off him with a homer and nine walks.
Key trends: The Mets are 1-4 in their past five vs. a lefty. The over is 4-1 in Garcia's past five and Wheeler's past five.
Early lean: Braves and over.
Angels at Mariners (TBA)
A 10:10 p.m. ET first pitch - the only game on the schedule with a start time after 7:35 - and on the MLB Network. The Halos got bad news earlier this week when pitcher Tyler Skaggs was ruled out 10-12 weeks with a strained oblique. He was hurt last Friday vs. Texas. Skaggs had been pitching well, giving up three earned runs over 19 innings in his last three starts. The Angels already have lost right-hander Garrett Richards, who is on the 60-day disabled list with a strained right biceps. Daniel Wright is expected to take Skaggs' spot for now but might not be the long-term solution. Wright has made two MLB appearances this season, one start, and is 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA. He has never faced Seattle. Mariners lefty Ariel Miranda (2-2, 3.81) beat the Indians last time out, giving up one earned over 5.1 innings. In his career against the Angels, Miranda is 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA. Mike Trout is 1-for-4 vs. him with a homer and four RBIs.
Key trends: The Mariners are 8-3 in Miranda's past 11 starts. The under is 6-1 in his past seven.
Early lean: TBA as the Halos haven't officially named Wright yet, but it's expected to be him. I expect Seattle to be around -130 with a total of 8.5. Go M's and under.
Doc's Sports MLB handicapping team is offering $60 worth of member's baseball picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - Claim your free MLB picks here now. Also, for a limited time only get three MLB handicappers for the price of one. Click here for details . Get free MLB picks daily at Doc's Sports baseball predictions page .
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent Baseball Handicapping Articles
- MLB Expert Betting Advice: Outlook for Teams with High Futures Odds
- 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