This article is part of our MLB Picks series.
Milwaukee Brewers (ML) (-150) at Baltimore Orioles
Early season games that feature the 4th and 5th (and sometimes, 6th) starters in the rotation are always an interesting handicap. In general, there is very little familiarity between batters and pitchers as those spots are usually filled with younger, fringe guys looking to make their impact and stick in the majors. In those situations, I generally keep it simple and simply side with the better team. After 2 sluggish games to open the season in Chicago, the Brewer bats showed signs of life on Sunday. Now, the Crew travels to Baltimore to take on an Orioles team fresh off a sweep at the hands of the Rays in which they were outscored 15-4 and showed little signs of improvement. Only three Brewers have faced Baltimore starter Bruce Zimmerman in the past, but 2 of them have him hard. Willy Adames is 1-2 with a home run and Hunter Renfroe is 2-5 with a home run vs. Zimmerman in their career. Milwaukee is clearly the superior team and this isn't bad juice to lay for a ML winner and a solid starter in Adrian Houser going.
Toronto Blue Jays (ML) (+104) at New York Yankees
In one of the divisional games on the slate today, AL East rivals meet in the Bronx. Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah has done well keeping the ball in the yard against current Yankees, giving up zero home runs over 30 collective at-bats and giving up a total of 7 hits. If he is anywhere near that effective today, there is a good chance the Toronto bats will do the rest. In 44 at-bats vs. NY starter Jameson Taillon, the Jays have 12 hits, including 5 extra-base hits and 3 homers. I don't think there will be many opportunities to get the Blue Jays at plus money this year, so when they present themselves, I have to jump on them.
Seattle Mariners at Minnesota Twins (OVER 9) (-120)
There is a small window of nice weather here in the Upper Midwest over the next 3 days and if yesterday's 14-run explosion is any indication, these teams will welcome it. Both lineups have had success against the opposing starting pitchers. Minnesota has rocked Seattle starter Chris Flexen historically (hitting .350 collectively over 40 at-bats) while Seattle batters have had similar success against Twins starter Dylan Bundy. In particular, players to watch in this game are Seattle phenom J.P. Crawford, who is 6-15 against Bundy, and Twins center fielder Byron Buxton, who is 3-3 with 2 XBHs against Flexen. There should be plenty of fireworks at Target Field tonight to get over the total.
San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants (UNDER 8.5) (-120)
San Diego starter Nick Martinez is another in a recent string of pitchers who have remade themselves with stints in Korea or Japan. Martinez returns with a new and improved repertoire and faces a Giants team that has just six collective at-bats against him. On the other side of the hill, Giants starter Alex Wood has fared well in his career against the current Padres lineup, giving up just a .505 OPS mark over 30 at-bats. These NL West rivals know each other very well which should make for a fun, late-night game of chess from the West Coast.