Five to Follow MLB Betting: Friday September 19, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 9/18/2014
I hear some people say that baseball's regular season should end in late August so it doesn't interfere with football season. I respectfully disagree. Look at a day like Friday where you have five live baseball betting options at Bovada: Dodgers at Cubs, Blue Jays at Yankees, Red Sox at Orioles, Rangers at Angels and Giants at Padres. I'm guessing all those games will be more exciting than the college football matchup between UConn and South Florida. Just saying. Here's a look at five interesting matchups on Friday's MLB schedule.
Dodgers at Cubs (+242, TBA)
This doesn't have the biggest spread discrepancy of the season -- now I'm interested to find what that has been -- but it might be the biggest pitching mismatch all year. The Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw continues to make his case for NL MVP (Cy Young is locked up) when he faces the Cubs at Wrigley in the day's only matinee. Kershaw (19-3, 1.70) isn't just the best pitcher in baseball, he might be the best of this generation. Kershaw has gone eight innings in each of his past five starts, all wins, and not allowed more than two runs. This will be his first look at the Cubs in 2014. Kershaw is an amazing 10-1 with a 1.64 ERA on the road. That's obscene. Meanwhile, the Cubs start probably the worst pitcher in the majors in Edwin Jackson (6-14, 6.09). He hasn't pitched since Aug. 20 when he was shelled for seven runs and eight hits in 2.2 innings by the Giants. He was placed on the DL after. Jackson actually won at the Dodgers on Aug. 3, allowing two runs over six innings in one of his best starts of the year.
Key trends: The Dodgers are oddly just 3-7 in Kershaw's past 10 vs. the NL Central. The Cubs are 1-6 in Jackson's past seven at home. The "over/under" has gone under in Kershaw's past five vs. the Cubs.
Early lean: Uh, yeah, Dodgers on the runline.
Mets at Braves (-150, 6.5)
There could be as many as three key Braves sitting this one out. Catcher Evan Gattis for sure will as he's dealing with a kidney stone. Both shortstop Andrelton Simmons and outfielder Jason Heyward left Wednesday's game with minor ailments, so they are questionable. Hard to believe the Braves could actually finish below .500 and behind the Marlins in the NL East. Atlanta just collapsed. Thus, it could be a weakened lineup that the Mets' Zack Wheeler (10-10, 3.61) will face. This will be his fifth start against Atlanta this year, and he is 0-2 despite a solid 3.70 ERA. Freddie Freeman is 7-for-13 career off him with two doubles and a home run. Julio Teheran (13-12, 2.89) has lost three straight for Atlanta because the Braves have totaled two runs in those games. He is 2-1 with a 3.78 ERA vs. the Mets in 2014.
Key trends: The Mets are 4-1 in Wheeler's past five Friday starts. The Braves have won seven straight Teheran starts on Friday. The under is 5-1 in Teheran's past six vs. the Mets.
Early lean: Under at -120.
Tigers at Royals (-118, 8)
This probably has to qualify as the biggest series of the year thus far. Detroit enters leading the Royals by a half game in the AL Central, although Kansas City has a game in hand. Whichever team doesn't win the division could quite possibly miss the playoffs altogether, largely depending on how Seattle finishes the season. Normally you would be happy as a Tigers fan that Justin Verlander is starting the opener, but he hasn't been himself this season. Maybe he's distracted by Kate Upton (I would be). Verlander (13-12, 4.81) is 2-2 with a 5.57 ERA in five starts against the Royals this season. Salvador Perez hits Verlander hard, going 14-for-33 with seven doubles, a homer and 10 RBIs. The Royals can't feel too confident in lefty Jason Vargas (11-9, 3.41). He has a 7.59 ERA in his past two starts, both losses. He is 1-2 with a 5.18 ERA vs. Detroit. Alex Avila hits .313 off him with two homers. He hasn't played since Sunday, however, after taking a foul tip off his mask.
Key trends: The Tigers have lost eight straight on the road vs. lefties. They are 0-5 in Verlander's past five road starts vs. teams with a winning record. Detroit is 1-5 in Verlander's past six in K.C. The under is 4-0 in Vargas' past four vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: I think Verlander finds his old stuff. Take Detroit.
Mariners at Astros (+127, 8.5)
This is the easiest series the M's have left, so they really need to win all three games. They start one of the game's top pitching prospects in Taijuan Walker (1-2, 2.96). He's getting a start because a spot opened up with rookie lefty Roenis Elias expected to be done for the season. Strangely, three of Walker's six big-league starts have come against Houston, and he's 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA. Houston's Brad Peacock (4-8, 4.80) missed his last start due to back tightness. Peacock has been good of late, not allowing more than two earned over his past five starts, although he never goes very deep into games. He is 0-1 with a 4.41 ERA in three starts vs. Seattle. Kyle Seager is 6-for-18 with a homer and five RBIs against him.
Key trends: Seattle is 6-1 in its past seven on the road vs. teams with a losing record. Houston is 1-4 in Peacock's past five at home. Seattle has won five straight in Houston. The under is 4-1 in Peacock's past five vs. Seattle.
Early lean: Under at -110.
Giants at Padres (+120, 6.5)
The Giants were hoping to be whole in the lineup for the first time in a while on Friday, but that's not expected to happen now. The good news is an MRI on the back of outfielder Angel Pagan came back clean, and he should return. The team's second-leading hitter (.302) hasn't played since Sunday. Originally, Michael Morse was expected to return as well, but he is still feeling pain in his oblique. He has been out since the end of August. This is a series the Giants should sweep and need to. They start Tim Hudson on Friday. Hudson (9-11, 3.41) is pitching through some hip pain and he has been a bit off of late, allowing 14 runs over 12 innings in his past three starts, all losses. He is 1-2 with a 2.96 ERA vs. the Padres. Odrisamer Despaigne (3-7, 3.63) has owned the Giants, allowing just one run over 13 innings in two starts.
Key trends: The Giants are 9-2 in their past 11 against right-handers. San Diego is 1-6 in Despaigne's past seven against teams with a winning record. The over is 5-0 in San Francisco's past five on Friday.
Early lean: Giants and over at -120.
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