Five to Follow MLB Betting: Friday August 29, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 8/28/2014
Can you tell me the only two current franchises to never play in the World Series? The answer is Washington and Seattle. Both could make it this year, and that Fall Classic matchup is priced at +2500 on Sportsbook.ag. What do the Nats and Mariners have in common? Terrific pitching. They open a three-game series Friday night in the Pacific Northwest in the weekend's only interleague series. Here's a look at that game and four others.
Phillies at Mets (-145, 7.5)
I mentioned the other day that the Mets might shut down David Wright soon because he's dealing with a shoulder problem. Well, he also hasn't played since leaving Sunday's game since leaving that with neck spasms. So keep an eye on him for this game as well as solid second baseman Daniel Murphy, who hadn't played since the same day with a calf injury (Mets did play Thursday). Just to keep picking on the Mets, that big free-agent signing of Curtis Granderson looks quite terrible now. The $60 million man is hitting .171 with two homers and six RBIs since the All-Star Break. The Mets have some great young pitching, but their lineup is sad. One of those good young pitchers takes the mound Friday night in Jacob deGrom (6-6, 3.13). He had his worst start of the season last time out at the Dodgers, allowing five runs in six innings. DeGrom pitched in Philadelphia on May 31, allowing three runs over 6.1 innings and striking out a career-high 11. Ryan Howard hit a three-run dinger off him. David Buchanan (6-7, 4.21) has pitched well over his past three starts, but the Phils have lost them all. That includes Aug. 11 vs. the Mets, when he allowed three runs over six innings.
Key trends: The Phillies have won four straight series openers but are 1-6 in their past seven on the road. The Mets are 1-7 in their past eight at home against right-handers. New York has won eight of the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: Mets can't hit much and Buchanan has improved. Phils are good dog value.
Tigers at White Sox (+147, 9.5)
I'm flat-out stunned what is happening to the Detroit Tigers' pitching staff these days. When they got David Price it looked like Detroit might have one of the great rotations this century at a minimum. However, Price has been average and was obliterated Wednesday by the Yankees. Then there's Justin Verlander (11-11, 4.82), who starts Friday's opener at the White Sox. It appears he has emptied the chamber when it comes to his right arm. Do you realize the once-dominant Verlander hasn't had a start all year where he didn't allow fewer than two runs? He is 2-2 with a 4.98 ERA in August and 1-1 with a 5.49 ERA in three starts against the White Sox in 2014. Jose Abreu has two homers in nine at-bats off him. Still, Verlander is still better than Chicago's Scott Carroll (5-8, 5.05). He has a 7.61 ERA in four August starts but hasn't faced the Tigers in 2014.
Key trends: Detroit is 2-5 in Verlander's past seven on the road. Chicago is 1-7 in its past eight vs. teams with a winning record. The "over/under" has gone over in Detroit's past seven vs. the AL Central. The over has hit in four of in Verlander's past five vs. Chicago.
Early lean: If it was any White Sox pitcher but Carroll, I'd lean against Verlander. I'd go Tigers at +100 on the runline.
Cubs at Cardinals (-140, 7.5)
Two names to keep an eye on here. Cubs All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo (.278, 30 HRs, 71 RBIs) sat out Wednesday and Thursday with lower back tightness, but the team doesn't think it's serious. There's a good chance he plays here. There's a decent shot that the Cardinals activate All-Star catcher Yadier Molina. He hasn't played since July 9 because of a thumb injury but is playing in the minors. This is a nice matchup of young pitchers. Kyle Hendricks (5-1, 1.78) has been terrific for the Cubs. His streak of six straight quality starts ended last time out only because of a long rain delay. Hendricks' lone loss was July 27 vs. the Cards even though he allowed only a run over 6.1 innings. Matt Holliday hit a solo homer. The Cards' Shelby Miller (8-9, 4.26) is looking for his first win since July 31. He allowed two earned in 5.2 innings in his only start vs. the Cubs.
Key trends: The Cardinals have won four straight at home. They are 0-5 in Miller's past five vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 5-0 in the Cubs' past five series openers, but the over is 5-0 in St. Louis past five at home.
Early lean: Stick with Hendricks until the league proves it has figured him out.
A's at Angels (-105, 7.5)
If Oakland and Los Angeles were to face off in the playoffs and both teams had their rotations lined up perfectly for a must-win game (or the series opener), Friday's pitching matchup would be what you would get. It's Jon Lester (13-8, 2.53) for Oakland. All five of his starts have been quality with the A's, and he beat the Angels last weekend, allowing a run and five hits over seven innings. Mike Trout is still looking for his first career hit off Lester. Jered Weaver is back in the ace role for the Halos with Garrett Richards done for the year. Weaver (14-7, 3.72) beat Oakland last weekend, allowing three runs over 6.2 innings. Alberto Callaspo and Andy Parrino homered off him. However, Weaver was ripped in two earlier starts vs. the A's, both losses.
Key trends: The Angels are 13-3 in their past 16 at home vs. lefties. The over is 7-0-1 in Oakland's past eight against right-handers. How's this for a trend: The under is 12-0-1 in Weaver's past 13 at home vs. Oakland. The Angels are 11-3 in his past 14 overall against the A's.
Early lean: Clearly I'm going under with those above trends.
Nationals at Mariners (-147, 6)
If there's one NL team that is built to add the designated hitter, it's the Nationals (even more so when Ryan Zimmerman is healthy, which he isn't). So playing in the AL park might actually be to their advantage. Washington had been red hot but enters this one having been swept three games in Philadelphia. Jordan Zimmermann (9-5, 2.93) looks to stop the bleeding on Friday. He has had five straight quality starts, and the Nationals have won them all. Only a few Mariners have seen him. Logan Morrison is 3-for-15 with two homers vs. Zimmermann. Seattle's Felix Hernandez (13-4, 2.07) actually looked mortal last time out, allowing three runs over 5.2 innings in Boston. He has lasted fewer than six innings in back-to-back starts after 16 straight of at least seven innings with two or fewer runs allowed. Seattle thought he might be a bit tired so the team pushed him back a few days to this start. Only a handful of Nationals have faced King Felix. Denard Span is 2-for-22 with eight strikeouts. Asdrubal Cabrera is 3-for-20 with five strikeouts.
Key trends: The Nats are 4-0 in Zimmermann's past four interleague starts. Seattle is 7-1 in its past eight against teams with a winning record. It is 5-1 in Hernandez's past six at home. The over is 7-1 in Zimmermann's past eight. The under has hit in seven of Hernandez's past 10.
Early lean: Tough situation for the Nats, having to travel across country following a sweep and now facing what could be a recharged Hernandez. Take Seattle as +155 on the runline as it will win something like 3-1. This is by far the low total on the board. I usually don't like 6. If it rose to 6.5, then yes. But doubt it will.
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