Texas +105 at Los Angeles O/U 8
I had the Texas Rangers on my radar as a team I’d be looking to support and one that could challenge the Houston Astros for AL West supremacy in 2016 and even after a bitter end to their opening series against Seattle which included a couple of bullpen meltdowns, I’m willing to step in and support them tonight. Texas is the more complete and well-rounded team. They have a very strong lineup with veteran hitters like Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo among others. I’m not ready to panic about the early season bullpen issues for the Rangers as that unit is loaded with fastball arms that can dial it up on the radar gun. The Angels lineup is very spotty outside of Mike Trout. Albert Pujols isn't the hitter he used to be and while Cole Calhoun is a solid hitter, outside of that, it's a weak lineup and it has shown already as the Angels have been ice cold at the plate getting outscored by the Chicago Cubs 15-1 in that two-game series. I'm also not convinced that Huston Street can hold up as the closer.
In tonight’s starting pitching matchup, I’m willing to get behind Texas lefty Derek Holland who has had all the potential to be a top-tier starter for years and appears healthy entering the 2016 campaign. There has been some concern about his final spring start and a drop in his velocity but Holland and manager Jeff Banister have dispelled the notion of that being a negative: "I know I'm not throwing as hard as I once did," Holland said. "I'm not panicking. I'd rather have the movement that I've got. The sinker has been a lot better, the location has been a lot better. I'm pleased with what it is. I'd rather have the movement I have now than be trying to throw 96 and not locate." Jeff Banister: "I think the [velocity] is in a good range for Derek right now. I think the range will increase. I don't necessarily expect a giant spike, but for most pitchers, you will some increase as they get stronger." On the flip side, Hector Santiago is who he is. He doesn’t pitch deep into many games and that is the biggest concern here for me. Even if Santiago only allows 2 or 3 runs over 5 or 6 innings, it opens the door to see more of a very shaky LA bullpen which has started this season off in similar rough fashion as last season. The Texas lineup is very strong and should create some problems for Santiago tonight and it is worth noting Texas has a tremendous 8-1 record in Derek Holland’s last nine starts against the Angels.