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Giants, Rangers, White Sox, And Nationals All Headline The Thursday MLB Slate

Posted by Dale "Skip" Lalonde on 4/10/2013 7:10:56 PM

On Thursday, a slightly reduced Major League Baseball schedule will still offer some very attractive matchups, largely because of the starting pitchers involved.

Game 1: San Francisco Giants @ Chicago Cubs – Thursday, April 11

NFL betting experts who don't devote a lot of attention to big-league baseball might think that in this matchup, the San Francisco Giants – after traveling from their home base on Wednesday to play this day game on Thursday – might be tired and a little spent. That’s quite possible. The Chicago Cubs, in the middle of their first homestand of the season, might be the fresher and more vigilant team in this tilt.

However, one of the great equalizers for travel hassles and the grind of a long schedule in Major League Baseball is the quality of the starting pitchers on the mound. Even if one team is run down by the slate and the demands of flying from one place to another, it can still win transitional games if it has the clearly superior starting pitcher. Such is the case for the Giants in this game. Ryan Vogelsong was a core reason why the Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals in last year’s National League Championship Series.

Vogelsong is not an unproven pitcher; he has established himself as a necessary and vital part of a really good starting rotation. Carlos Villanueva, the Cubs’ starter in this game, is nowhere near Vogelsong in terms of prowess or composure. The pitching matchup is lopsided enough to give the Giants the edge, even though they’re playing this game on a fairly short turnaround.

MLB Betting Pick: San Francisco

Game 2: Texas Rangers @ Seattle Mariners – Thursday, April 11

The betting websites that are scrutinizing lineups and pitching staffs do not need to be told that the Texas Rangers own the Seattle Mariners in terms of position-player talent. The Rangers have the far better batting order and, unlike the Mariners, will compete for the American League West championship. However, with all of this in mind, the Mariners have the ultimate trump card in this game: Felix Hernandez.

One of the elite starting pitchers in baseball will often be good enough to overcome his team’s manifest weaknesses. Moreover, Hernandez struggled last Saturday in very windy conditions in Chicago against the White Sox. In a more settled environment in Seattle, he should regain command of his fastball and slider, which should make him extremely effective. Texas starter Matt Harrison is solid, but he’s no Felix Hernandez. Give the M’s a slight but real edge.

MLB Betting Pick: Seattle

Game 3: Chicago White Sox @ Washington Nationals – Thursday, April 11

For a lover of online poker, it might be hard to arrive at a decision on who is the better dealer in this game: Chicago starter Jose Quintana or Washington moundsman Dan Haren? It’s true that Haren has the career-long credentials, but Quintana made substantial improvements last season. If 2012 was used as the metric for comparing these pitchers, Quintana would merit the edge. However, Haren – due to his experience – is probably more likely to handle an early-season start with more savvy. Give Washington the nod for that specific reason.

MLB Betting Pick: Washington

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