Cactus League Observations: MLB Predictions for Rockies, Angels, Dodgers and White Sox
This spring, like the last 15 years, I toured the Cactus League in Arizona and got a feel for all the teams. With baseball shut down and not expected until mid-May, at the earliest, we don't know what the season will look like going ahead.
However, this doesn't change my perspective of what I saw, read or believe at this point. On the videos I did (Doug Upstone Free Sports Picks and Predictions at YouTube), I gave out MLB picks on season win totals, which are now irrelevant and they will not be included in these series of four articles.
Enjoy and hope to be back real soon.
Colorado Rockies (4th in NL West, 12th-best NL odds)
After making two straight playoff appearances, the Rockies looked like a Rocky Mountains avalanche, plummeting from 91 wins in 71 last season. Injuries without a doubt played a part. However, with Colorado's season win total only a few games better than last year's dismal campaign (before shutdown), those making MLB odds are not convinced last season was an aberration. The Rockies starting pitching ERA is always going to be higher than normal because of where they play half their games. However, last year's 5.87 ERA was the highest in baseball and second-highest in Rockies history. The bullpen was not a great deal better and will have to recover for the Rocks to be close to a .500 team. It seems Colorado would be willing to trade Nolan Arenado for the right package, and he seems none too thrilled with the front office this spring. The Rockies are good at 1-5 in the batting order but after that, strictly hit or miss, which diminishes chances of a turnaround.
Los Angeles Angels (3rd in AL West, 7th-best AL odds and T-12th for World Series)
Mike Trout did something few thought was possible. Baseball's best player got better, winning his third MVP award. Now it's the Los Angeles ownership which has to get Trout in the playoffs. The signing of Anthony Rendon was a good first step, and having a healthy Shohei Ohtani would be a big boost also, both for hitting and pitching. Rendon and Andrelton Simmons will be a welcome sight for Halos pitchers on grounders to the left side of the infield. Starting pitching is what holds the Angels back and prevents Joe Maddon working early magic. Ohtani will begin throwing during the season, and Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy are the latest Angels signings to try to find what they once had; also, Andrew Heaney is a soft-tosser. If the Halos can dominate Texas and Seattle, they could compete for the wild card and might be an "Over" play on totals, once we have a number posted again.
Doug's Doc's Picks - Potential Over Play
Los Angeles Dodgers (1st in NL West, 1st in NL odds and T-1st for World Series)
Since 2015, no team has won more games than the Los Angeles Dodgers. They have won the NL West seven straight times and been crowned the NL champion twice. Despite the consistent excellence, they come up short in one area, winning a World Series. The signing of Mookie Betts and probable eventual trade of Joc Pederson for pitching, signals the Dodgers understand with Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen not 100 percent dominant every time they take the mound anymore, this needs to be the year. Dave Roberts has the privilege of filling out a daily lineup card that is the best in the NL and one of the best in baseball. If the young arms develop in the same manner Walker Buehler has, the Dodgers win the division, the National League and are back in the Fall Classic chasing that elusive title.
Doug's Doc's Picks - Division, NL and small bet for World Series
Chicago White Sox (3rd in AL Central, 7th-best AL odds and T-12th for World Series)
With Detroit and Kansas City expected to be horrible again, and Cleveland sliding and cutting payroll, the improving Chicago White Sox are poised to move up. Chicago has put together seven straight losing seasons, but a 10-game improvement and having several players off excellent years, the Pale Hose have the feel of a winner. Not everyone might remember shortstop Tim Anderson was the AL batting champion and Jose Abreu led the junior circuit in RBIs. Add in the fact that the White Sox have catcher Yasmani Grandal and a legit DH in Edwin Encarnacion, along with a potentially outstanding young outfield group, runs will be scored on the South Side. Lucas Giolito emerged as an ace for Chicago. And though he could see some regression, almost assuredly Reynoldo Lopez will bounce back to offset that. Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez are not the same pitchers as a few years ago, but they have a strong track record. If Carlos Rodon and Mike Kepech return from injury and can add 75+ innings apiece, this should be an OVER play.
Doug's Doc's Picks - Potential Over Play
Doug Upstone brought to Doc's Sports 21 documented No. 1 titles and finished in the Top Ten 80+ other times in a distinguished career. Doug as a professional handicapper/writer, has written for various well-known sports betting websites and several of the football newsletters you have read before.
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