The eighth stop on Cactus League trail in Arizona takes us to Peoria, AZ, where the San Diego Padres call home and they faced the Texas Rangers, as we look into their baseball futures for new campaign.
Texas traded for Cole Hamels last year, hoping to made a playoff run in 2016 when Yu Darvish and Derek Holland would be at or close to full strength. However, the Rangers did the unexpected and closed 40-22, flying by Houston in September to win the AL West and make the playoffs. Expectations are even higher for this upcoming season.
San Diego was the talk of baseball last spring as then new GM, A.J. Preller made deal after deal and there was a buzz about the usually forgotten Padres. It did not work out with only 74 wins, but Preller said it was part of plan to kick start the franchise in a new direction.
Here is a look at both clubs and all the main MLB odds relating to these teams.
Texas Odds – AL West 2nd (+250) – AL 5th (+850) – World Series T12 (+2000) - Win Total O/U 83.5
With Darvish due back sometime in May, GM Jon Daniels is on record saying healthy Darvish paired with Hamels, Holland and Martin Perez gives his club as good as frontline pitching as any in the American League.
Last season, Texas was only 11th in the AL in bullpen ERA at 4.12, but down the stretch the last two months they were as good as anyone. Whether Shawn Tolleson can come close to matching last year’s 35 saves in 37 chances without a true swing and miss two-strike pitch is up for debate, but given his success, he deserves benefit of doubt. Otherwise, the questions are can Sam Dyson and Jake Diekman duplicate August and September again?
Offensively, Texas should be in good shape with the likes of Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus. Second baseman Rougned Odor might be ready for breakout season. To expect anything out of Josh Hamilton is wishful thinking and though Delino DeShields Jr. was a find last year, most want to see him replicate last year’s .344 OPS.
With one more look at Texas to come, we will hold off on final decree for MLB picks.
San Diego Odds – NL West 4th (+4000) – Win Total O/U 73.5
More than one Padres fan comes into the season wondering what exactly is their general manager’s plan? Last year San Diego brought in Matt Kemp, Craig Kimbrel, Will Middlebrooks, Justin Upton among others and it simply just did not work out. All but Kemp are gone, as is first baseman Yonder Alonso and pitcher Ian Kennedy.