Free Pick Mariners at Oakland A’s – April 7th

Seattle Mariners -114 @ Oakland A’s +104 (TOTAL: 6.5)

Felix Hernandez (0-0, 1.12 ERA) vs. Bartolo Colon (1-0, 1.12 ERA)

In a stroke of baseball scheduling brilliance, these two teams will get to throw their number one starters against each other in the same opening series.  How is this possible you ask?  Because both of these pitchers faced their opposition a week ago in baseball’s actual “opening day” (though one could call it “opening morning” since it aired at 6am EST) in Japan.  Tonight we get the repeat engagement, this time stateside and in a normal viewing window.

The Mariners might have the most talented pitcher alive outside of Justin Verlander, however over the last two seasons he certainly hasn’t gotten enough run support or bullpen backing to even flirt with winning 20 games.  In fact last year King Felix was just 14-14 despite posting a solid 3.47 ERA and notching 222 strikeouts.  The year prior, his Cy Young campaign, he posted a 2.27 ERA with 232 strikeouts; the reward from his teammates for his sparkling efforts?  A pedestrian 13-12 mark.

The reason Hernandez failed to earn many wins is the same reason both his ballclub and their opponent Oakland failed to win many games; neither can hit worth a darn.  Oakland might have the worst lineup in baseball this year, not that playing in their spacious ballpark does their hitters any favors.  Seattle, while still not striking fear in anyone has at least put a few pieces around Ichiro, namely Chone Figgins and the emerging Justin Smoke, in hopes of building a decent lineup while they still have a few more productive years out of their star.  Oakland has Jonny Gomes batting cleanup on Opening Day and is starting Adam Rosales who batted .098 is 24 games last season…

To me, this game is a simple one to pick.  You get a star pitcher facing a lousy lineup in a pitcher friendly ballpark – what’s not to like about Seattle in this one?  Granted, Felix’s run support and bullpen have failed him countless times over the last two years.  It is pretty rare you get a pitcher with his strikeouts, near 1.00 WHIP, tiny ERA and limited walks with a basically .500 record over two seasons.  So a win is far from guaranteed just because the ball is in his hands, but I still like my chances giving the soft lineup and the very, very generous line of just -114.

That’s basically even money to get Felix Hernandez against a team that was near the bottom in offense last year, hasn’t improved in the offseason, and is hitting just .188 in their first two games.

I like the Mariners to win, and love the line of -114.

Free pick: Seattle Mariners to WIN -114