There’s another solid betting card available in Major League Baseball today including a rematch (is it too early to say postseason preview?) between the Rays and Tigers.


Here are three of the stronger MLB picks on the Thursday card.

Tampa Bay Rays (4-1, +3.75) vs. Detroit Tigers (4-1, +2.37)

The Rays and Tigers resume their four-game series at Comerica Park in Detroit. First pitch is 1:10 PM ET with Jeff Niemann taking the hill for the Rays while the Tigers counter with Drew Smyly who will be making his major league debut. It will be the first start of the season for both pitchers with the rookie Smyly getting the favorite nod over Niemann (-112/+107). The total is 9.

The two teams will be hard pressed to top Wednesday’s thriller in which Tampa Bay plated four runs in the top of the 9th to beat Detroit ace Justin Verlander 4-2. All four runs were charged to Verlander although Ben Zobrist hit the go-ahead two-run single off closer Jose Valverde. 

Tampa Bay will try to keep rolling against the 22-year-old Smyly who went 11-6 with a 2.07 ERA during two stops in the minors last season, striking out 130 batters and walking 36.

Niemann reached double-digit victories for a third consecutive season in 2011, going 11-7 with a 4.06 ERA despite missing six weeks with a strained lower back. He’s 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA in four career starts against the Tigers.

Miguel Cabrera is off to a blazing start hitting .471 with three homers and nine RBI’s. He’s also 5 for 13 with two solo homers off Niemann.

The books are banking on the great unknown (Smyly) something I’m not willing to do. I’ll take the OVER and look for Mags to set an example for both lineups.

LA Angels (2-3, -3.10) vs. Minnesota Twins (1-4, -2.62)

The Angels look to square their record at 3-3 when they send Dan Haren (0-1, 8.44 ERA) to the mound against Francisco Liriano (0-1, 11.25 ERA) in the series finale at Target Field in Minnesota. First pitch is at 1:10 PM ET with Haren and the Halo’s favored on the MLB odds board (-148/143).

Albert Pujols has yet to get started, hitting just .222 with two RBI’s and one extra-base hit. The Angels know he’ll hit but they’re not so sure about Vernon Wells (.167) who is once again proving to be a real drag on the lineup.  At some point the Halos need to swallow real hard and eat the rest of Wells contract because he’s blocking Mike Trout’s path the majors.

One loss to the Minnesota Twins does not a season make. But keeping Wells in the lineup ahead of guys who can actually hit is a huge mistake. I was one of those guys who thought Wells would prosper by having Prince Albert in the lineup and it doesn’t appear that anything or anyonecan help the struggling outfielder. Let’s admit we made a mistake, cut bait and bring up the ‘Trout’. And while we’re at it lets take the OVER as Pujols has his first huge game for the Angels.

San Francisco Giants (1-4, -3.05) vs. Colorado Rockies (2-3, -2.10)

The Giants and Rockies square off in the rubber-game of their three-game set at Coors Field with Madison Bumgarner (0-1, 9.00 ERA) facing 49-year old Jamie Moyer (0-1, 5.40 ERA) in a battle of lefthanders. San Francisco is favored at a number of the best baseball books (-122/+117) with the total at 9.5.

How about that vaunted Giants pitching staff? Five games into the season and San Francisco is 29th in ERA (6.47) and 29th in WHIP (1.61). Tim Lincecum is 0-1 with a 12.91 ERA and it’sofficially time to worry about Timmy.

The two-time Cy Young award winner was hammered for six runs in 2.1 innings—the shortest outing of his career—as the Rockies offense exploded for a 17-8 win over the Giants. Carlos Gonzalez went 3 for 4 including two triples and four runs batted in while Dexter Fowler, Todd Helton, Michael Cuddyer and Chris Nelson also had three hits apiece. The Rockies finished with 22 hits but no home runs.

This series is a great example of why you don’t let anyone tell you how easy it is to bet baseball. Monday, Barry Zito as in Barry Freakin’ Zito throws a complete game shutout and two days later Lincecum can’t get out of the third inning. Betting baseball is fun—but it isn’t easy.

So far in the series, we’ve had a shutout and a slugfest. My guess is we’ll get something in between in the series finale like an UNDER. Go low with the Rockies and Giants.