Five to Follow MLB Betting: Friday September 12, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 9/11/2014
Perhaps you are one of those old-school types of people where you believe that MLB should never have added a wild card in each league, much less two. And that's fine. But look at the schedule this third-to-last weekend of the regular season, and nearly every matchup has some sort of playoff significance. I only see three series on the slate that don't: Marlins-Phillies, Twins-White Sox and Padres-Diamondbacks. Here's a look at five interesting matchups on Friday.
Indians at Tigers (-166, 7.5)
If I asked you who the best pitcher in the American League since early August has been, you probably say someone like Chris Sale or Felix Hernandez, the two league ERA leaders. Nope. The answer is Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco (7-4, 2.69). He has a 0.70 ERA since rejoining the rotation on Aug. 5 with 42 strikeouts to just four walks. Carrasco's worst start in that stretch, however, was on Sept. 2 against Detroit. He allowed only a run in 5.1 innings and struck out 10 but also gave up 10 hits. Torii Hunter is a .400 hitter with two home runs in 15 at-bats off Carrasco in his career. Detroit's David Price (13-11, 3.33) has been hit hard in two of his past three outings. Last Saturday he lost to the Giants, allowing five runs in 8.2 innings. He did strike out 11, his most as a Tiger. Price beat the Indians on Sept. 1, allowing a run over seven innings. Lonnie Chisenhall is 3-for-6 with a homer and double off him.
Key trends: Cleveland is 4-0 in its past four against lefties. The Tribe have lost seven straight Carrasco starts in Game 1 of a series. The "over/under" has gone under in Carrasco's past seven. Cleveland is 1-5 in his past six vs. Detroit.
Early lean: This total surprised me, and I don't see it staying there. Go under ASAP.
Cubs at Pirates (-192, 7.5)
Pittsburgh officially said goodbye to third baseman/first baseman Pedro Alvarez for the season as he was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his left foot. Not a huge loss as he hit only .231 with 18 homers in 122 games and led the majors with 25 errors at third. That caused the team to move him to first. The No. 2 overall pick in 2008 might have played his final game in a Pirates uniform because clearly the team's third baseman of the future is Josh Harrison, who leads the NL in hitting. The Pirates throw Gerrit Cole against the Cubs on Friday. Cole (8-5, 3.89) faced Chicago on Sunday at Wrigley and allowed three earned and struck out eight over six innings. The Cubs are in a free-fall and go with Tsuyoshi Wada (4-2, 2.95). He left last Friday's start vs. Pittsburgh with cramps in his leg. The Pirates had scored three runs in 3.1 innings off him.
Key trends: The Cubs have lost five straight on the road. Pittsburgh has won four in a row vs. left-handers. It is 6-1 in Cole's past seven at home. The under is 7-0 in Pittsburgh's past seven at home.
Early lean: Chicago has mailed it in and is playing all kids or guys with no future. Take Pittsburgh at +110 on the runline.
Astros at Angels (-233, 7.5)
Los Angeles expects to have closer Huston Street available for Friday's game. He hasn't pitched since Saturday with some hamstring tightness. The Angels gave up a lot to get Street around the trade deadline, but he's been excellent with 13 saves and a 1.71 ERA with the Halos. Left-hander C.J. Wilson (11-9, 4.64) takes the hill. He pitched in Houston on Sept. 2 and lasted only 3.1 innings, allowing five runs and eight hits. Wilson is 1-2 with an 8.35 ERA in four starts against the Astros this year. Chris Carter is 9-for-24 with two homers, two doubles and five RBIs off him. Houston's Brett Oberholtzer (5-10, 4.38) has faced the Angels once, allowing five runs over 6.1 innings on July 3. Don't expect to see Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton yet again for this one.
Key trends: Houston has won five straight series openers that Oberholtzer has started. The Angels are 7-0 in their past seven at home vs. teams with a losing record. The under has hit in 10 of Houston's past 11 on the road. The over is 4-0 in Wilson's past four vs. Houston.
Early lean: Over at -120.
Dodgers at Giants (-129, 6)
The Dodgers' Yasiel Puig is a special talent, no doubt about it. But he's hurting the team at this point, and it's time for Manager Don Mattingly to sit him for a few games. L.A. certainly has enough outfielders to replace him. Puig is hitting just.203 since the end of July with a .228 slugging percentage and no homers. However, I'm sure he's in there Friday night for the start of a big series with San Francisco. Puig is 5-for-18 with two solo homers and six strikeouts in his career off Giants starter Madison Bumgarner (17-9, 3.02). San Francisco has won his past four starts. He is 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers. Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-6, 3.16) is 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts against the Giants. Hunter Pence hits .429 off him with six RBIs in 21 at-bats.
Key trends: The Dodgers won seven straight Ryu starts vs. the NL West. The Giants are 10-1 in their past 11 at home. L.A. is 4-0 in Ryu's past four in San Francisco. The under has hit in six of Bumgarner's past eight vs. L.A.
Early lean: Bumgarner doesn't have good home splits. Take L.A.
A's at Mariners (-124, 7)
The way the A's are struggling, they can use as much help as possible, and they are set to get back closer Sean Doolittle from the DL on Friday. He has been sidelined since Aug. 24 with a strained intercostal muscle. Doolittle has 20 saves and a 2.28 ERA. The bullpen hasn't been the same since he went out. One piece of good news for Oakland of late has been the performance of Jason Hammel (10-10, 3.55). He had not been good since coming from the Cubs, but over his past three starts hasn't allowed more than two earned. Hammel beat Seattle on Sept. 1, holding the M's to just a run on three hits over eight innings. He is opposed by James Paxton (5-2, 1.87). Paxton beat the A's on Sept. 2, giving up two runs over 7.2 innings.
Key trends: The A's are 1-7 in their past eight against southpaws. Seattle is 4-1 in Paxton's past four vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 4-1 in Paxton's past five against teams above .500.
Early lean: Paxton has been terrific, and Oakland doesn't like lefties. Take the M's.
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