It's Opening Day, and for our Opening Day pick, we will head to one of the traditional homes of Major League Baseball, Cincinnati, for a look at the Philadelphia Phillies vs. the Cincinnati Reds.
Today might the real “Opening Day” but that didn’t stop yesterday from delivering a ridiculously entertaining sneak preview. We dropped our first pick in dramatic fashion as the Cardinals got a walk-off winner in the bottom of the ninth after the Cubs rallied for three in the top half of the frame to tie the game at three apiece. And as fun as that game was, the defending champs scoring three runs in the ninth only to lose in walk-off fashion to their fiercest rival was not even CLOSE to the best story of the say.
That honor belongs to my favorite six-beer fisting crushing hurler, Madison Bumgarner who may have notched one of the more impressive no-decisions in baseball history. Yes, I know stat-nerds, dudes have gotten no-decisions (or even a loss) in a no-hitter, but hear me out on this one. MadBum was perfect into the sixth, struck out eleven batters against NO walks and HIT TWO HOMERUNS – the first time a pitcher has belted two homeruns in an Opening Day game EVER. Yes, he allowed a sixth-inning blast to AJ Pollock to give up his win (nice return for Pollock, by the way – welcome back AJ!), but still – what an incredible, ridiculously and uniquely AWESOME performance.
If that is what the next six months have in store for us, sign me up!
Today’s MLB Pick:
Philadelphia Phillies +101 at Cincinnati Reds -108 (Total: 8.5)
Jeremy Hellickson vs. Scott Feldman
I know. This isn’t the game any of you outside these two immediate fan bases are tuning in to watch. But as you will find often throughout the season, I am a little less concerned with entertainment as much as I am VALUE in the lines. There are some games to enjoy watching like Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers, but at -360 (huh??!) it’s a little rich for my blood. Instead, we will go to a city where they do Opening Day right, parade and school closings and all, Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Reds start the season with SEVEN rookies on the Opening Day roster, the most of any team in baseball in more than a decade. As if to obnoxiously emphasize the point, they even have a rookie NAMED “Rookie” (Thursday’s starter, Rookie Davis). This team is real young. And the pitching is REAL suspect with two rookies in the rotation and a 23-year old “veteran” in Brandon Finnegan. But the lineup could be decent, centered around one of the best pure hitters in baseball, Joey Votto. Votto will bat third and will need the continued development of Billy Hamilton and the health of Zach Cozart to provide him with some opportunities to produce runs. You know Joey is getting on base, via hit or walk, but driving in runs isn’t always his strong suit. Protecting him in the lineup will be All Star Adam Duvall and promising third baseman, Eugenio Suarez. Catcher is a problem for the Reds as Devin Mesoraco continues to try to come back from a brutal two years worth of injuries, and second base will be a question mark as long-time Red Brandon Phillips is on to Atlanta, opening the door for promising rookie Jose Peraza.
In summary, a LOT of question marks for the Reds. One area they should be slightly better is in the bullpen. Last year’s pen was historically awful. This year, Rasiel Iglesias and Tony Cingrani look to steady the ship. If they can, the Reds could exceed the Vegas 70 win projection.
Things are similar in Philadelphia as the rebuilding continues. They have some nice pieces in Mikeal Franco in the clean-up hole and hope the addition of veteran Howie Kendrick can provide some leadership in the clubhouse and on the field (as well as add some needed offensive punch in the two-hole). Their strength should be a talented young pitching staff lead by Hellickson, Aaron Nola and a hopeful return to excellence for Clay Bucholtz. Little is expected from the Phillies, but this team was very solid last year for the first four months. They will look to build on that hot start this season as .500 is an optimistic target.
For today, I’ll take the home team. Feldman may not be a superstar, but it is a veteran who has started Opening Day in year’s past for the Rangers and Astros. The bright lights today should faze him too much. I also think the Reds lineup is a little deeper through the middle. Hellickson took the tough-luck loss on Opening Day last year in Cincinnati and I think history repeats again today.
Today’ Pick: Cincinnati Reds to WIN -108