This is the 14th year in the major leagues for Phillies' starting pitcher Aaron Harang. From 2005 to 2007, he was among the upper echelon of pitchers in the game. During this time, he accumulated 15.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), according to Fangraphs, which was good for 7th among all starting pitchers in baseball. The top six were Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, Brandon Webb, Jake Peavy, and John Smoltz. Just below Harang were CC Sabathia and Roy Halladay. So, yeah, he was pretty good for a three-year stretch. He hasn't reached those heights since then, but he's had some solid-to-average years even as he has moved around from team to team. Since 2011, Harang has pitched for six different teams, including his current team, the Phillies. He's not a a great pitcher, or likely even what you'd call "good" these days, but he goes out and does what he can. He obviously loves the game. He's not going to make any headlines, but he'll keep plugging away until they tell him he can't do it anymore.
My pick: Nationals 6, Phillies 3
Atlanta Braves (Alex Wood) @Toronto Blue Jays (R.A. Dickey)
R.A. is a 40-year-old knuckleball pitcher who continues to be effective, but how much longer will he pitch? Knuckleball pitchers have been known to stay in the big leagues into their mid-40s, but I think baseball needs to start looking for the next guy to keep the knuckleball pitcher tradition alive.
My pick: Blue Jays 5, Braves 3
Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale) @Detroit Tigers (Anibal Sanchez)
Now that Kris Bryant has been called up from the minors by the Chicago Cubs, the next great prospect who everyone is waiting for is on the south side of Chicago--Carlos Rodon. Rodon is a White Sox' prospect who was terrific in spring training but sent down to the minors to start the year. He was drafted out of college just last year, so he has very little minor league experience so far, just 31 2/3 innings. Still, he looks like he's ready to pitch in the bigs right now and Chicago fans would like to see him up as soon as possible. I'm guessing we'll see Rodon with the White Sox in early May. In the meantime, enjoy Chris Sale. He's everything Carlos Rodon aspires to be.
My pick: White Sox 5, Tigers 2
Cleveland Indians (Danny Salazar) @Minnesota Twins (Phil Hughes)
There's an interesting contrast between these two pitchers. Danny Salazar is like a meteor, flashing through the sky. He's got great stuff but often can't harness it to consistently get batters out. Phil Hughes is like a slow and steady planet, making consistent progress. He doesn't have the stuff that Salazar has, but he can control his pitches much better and rarely hurts himself with walks. The Twins need a win and Hughes is the guy to help them get one.
My pick: Twins 5, Indians 3
Cincinnati Reds (Homer Bailey) @St. Louis Cardinals (Carlos Martinez)
Cincinnati pitcher Homer Bailey is coming off the DL to make his first start since last August. His 2014 season ended with elbow surgery. Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez is transitioning from pitching primarily in relief to the starting rotation. I wouldn't expect either pitcher to go too deep into this game, so it is likely to be decided by the bullpens. If the Reds can get it to Aroldis Chapman, they'll win. I don't think they'll get it to him, though.
My pick: Cardinals 6, Reds 4
San Diego Padres (Tyson Ross) @Chicago Cubs (Kyle Hendricks)
This game marks Day 2 of the Kris Bryant Era in Chicago. How good is Kris Bryant? In a previous lifetime, Kris Bryant taught Jimi Hendrix how to play the guitar. Kris Bryant once fought Superman on a bet. The loser had to start wearing his underwear on the outside of his pants. Kris Bryant knows whether the chicken or the egg came first. He's not telling; it amuses him.
My pick: Padres 6, Cubs 3
Baltimore Orioles (Chris Tillman) @Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz)
In his first outing, against the pitiful Philadelphia Phillies, the Red Sox' Clay Buchholz pitched seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts. In his second start, against the New York Yankees, Buchholz gave up nine earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. The Orioles are more like the Yankees than the Phillies, so there should be some run scoring in this one.
My pick: Orioles 6, Red Sox 5
Milwaukee Brewers (Kyle Lohse) @Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Locke)
In a further comparison between the cosmopolitan city of Pittsburgh and the podunk town of Milwaukee, we go to Numbeo.com. According to Numbeo, rent prices in Milwaukee are 20% lower than in Pittsburgh but restaurant prices are 16% higher. A three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost $55 in Milwaukee but just $48 in Pittsburgh. If you want to rent a tennis court for one hour on the weekend, it's going to cost your 20 bones in Milwaukee but just 15 in the 'Burgh. A pair of men's leather shoes will run you $110 in Milwaukee and $91 in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, Numbeo doesn't get to the important things. How about the matching up a Primanti's Brothers sandwich from Pittsburgh versus the best bratwurst in Milwaukee? That's what people really want to know about.
My pick: Pirates 7, Brewers 4
Oakland Athletics (Jesse Hahn) @Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura)
There will be some bad blood between these teams after what happened in Friday's game. On a force play at second base, the A's Brett Lawrie took out Royals' shortstop Alcides Escobar on a hard slide that knocked Escobar from the game. He was diagnosed with a sprained knee and will miss at least a few days. Lawrie claimed he did not intend to hurt anyone and Royals' manager Ned Yost said, 'I can't judge intent," but this is likely not the last we'll hear of this.
My pick: Royals 6, Athletics 5
Los Angeles Angels (C.J. Wilson) @Houston Astros (Dallas Keuchel)
If Dallas Keuchel can just contain Mike Trout even a little bit, the Astros can win this one.
My pick: Astros 7, Angels 4
Miami Marlins (Mat Latos) @New York Mets (Jacob deGrom)
The Mets have won six straight and are undefeated at home and have the great Jacob deGrom on the hill. What could be better?
My pick: Mets 8, Marlins 3
New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka) @Tampa Bay Rays (Jake Odorizzi)
If and when Alex Rodriguez ties and passes Willie Mays on the all-time home run list, would it be better if he does it at home, in Yankees Stadium, in front of Yankees fans? They would most likely cheer for him. If he does it on the road, there may be some booing and jeering. Will the commissioner of baseball be there to congratulate A-Rod for moving into fourth place on the all-time list?
My pick: Yankees 6, Rays 3
Arizona Diamondbacks (Rubby De La Rosa) @San Francisco Giants (Chris Heston)
The Giants are on an eight game losing streak, have scored the third-fewest runs in the National League, and have allowed the most runs of any team in baseball. They're going to try to turn things around behind Chris Heston, who has all of 18 1/3 innings in his major league career. On a hunch, I'll pick them to win this one.
My pick: Giants 5, Diamondbacks 4
Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis) @Seattle Mariners (King Felix Hernandez)
It's good to be the king.
My pick: Mariners 5, Rangers 2
Colorado Rockies (Jordan Lyles) @Los Angeles Dodgers (Zack Greinke)
The Dodgers and Rockies are tied atop the NL West, both at 7-3. The Dodgers are 6-1 at home. The Rockies are 6-1 on the road. The Dodgers have Zack Greinke pitching. The Rockies have Jordan Lyles pitching. That pretty much seals it for the Dodgers.
My pick: Dodgers 8, Rockies 3