Five to Follow MLB Betting: Saturday August 23, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 8/22/2014
I love baseball and will continue these stories through the end of the regular season, but let's not kid ourselves here: This is the last Saturday that baseball is front and center on our betting minds with college football season set to kick off. There are six matinee matchups on the MLB schedule this Saturday, so that's a good thing. There need to be more matinee games every day of the season and always at least one. Listening Rob Manfred? Here's a look at five interesting matchups.
Mariners at Red Sox (-105, 9)
Remember I mentioned Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo earlier this week? The Red Sox got him on Friday for $72.5 million, but since they aren't going anywhere this year it's doubtful that Castillo plays in the majors until 2015. Also keep an eye on whether fellow Cuban Yoenis Cespedes plays here. He left Thursday's game to deal with an as yet unspecified family emergency. No word when he may return. This game will be interesting for the Sox because it's the night after they have to face Felix Hernandez. One presumes they do nothing against King Felix and thus the stuff of Mariners starter Chris Young (12-6, 3.07) will seem tame in comparison. Young has a magnificent 2.35 ERA at home but 3.93 on the road. He hasn't faced Boston this year. The Sox go with Brandon Workman (1-7, 4.26). Boston has lost the past seven times he has taken the mound (once in relief). He was good last time out, holding the Angels to two runs over seven innings. Only a few Mariners have ever seen him. Kendrys Morales is 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs vs. Workman.
Key trends: The Mariners are 5-0 in Young's past five starts. The "over" is 4-0 in his past four. The "under" is 7-0 in Workman's past seven vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Early start after a night game means that total is too high, especially if Cespedes is out. Go under.
Orioles at Cubs (+107, TBA)
The Cubs are going to sign a top-notch pitcher in free agency this offseason by all accounts. The team might have a pretty formidable top three with whomever that is (most believe Jon Lester), Jake Arrieta and Saturday's starter Kyle Hendricks (5-1, 1.48), who has shattered all expectations. The rookie allowed four runs in his first big-league start and hasn't allowed more than one in the past six. He's 4-0 with a 0.92 ERA in August and is the first Cubs rookie with six straight quality starts since Kerry Wood 16 years ago. The Orioles' Bud Norris (11-7, 3.69) has won three straight starts with a 3.63 ERA this month. Starlin Castro hits him better than any Cub by far, but he remains on the bereavement list. Anthony Rizzo is 0-for-9 against Norris.
Key trends: Baltimore is 5-1 in Norris' past six against teams with a losing record. The Cubs are 2-11 in their past 13 in Game 2 of a series. The under is 6-0 in Norris' past six on Saturday.
Early lean: Stick with the hot hand in Hendricks, especially as a home dog and the O's not having their DH.
Pirates at Brewers (-153, 8)
Raise your hand if you projected Milwaukee's Wily Peralta to lead the National League in victories this season. Yeah, didn't think so. It could happen as Peralta (15-7, 3.27) is tied for the NL lead with Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto and St. Louis' Adam Wainwright, two guys you would expect to be atop this category. No Brewer has led his league in victories since Pete Vuckovich in the strike-shortened 1981 season. That's hard to believe. Peralta has won six of his past seven starts, and even the loss was a quality outing. He has dominated the Pirates, going 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts this year. Andrew McCutchen is 1-for-7 with a solo homer off him. Pittsburgh's Edinson Volquez (10-7, 3.58) hasn't personally lost in his past five starts. He is 1-1 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts against Milwaukee. Rickie Weeks is likely to start at second for the Brewers as he's 7-for-19 with two homers career off Volquez. Carlos Gomez has three solo homers in 24 at-bats off him. This game will have live betting at Bovada.
Key trends: The Pirates are 5-1 in Volquez's past six on the road. Milwaukee is 10-1 in Peralta's past 11 at home vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: This total seems a run too high. Under at -115. Like the Brewers as well.
Angels at A's (-147, 7)
If Los Angeles is going to hold off Oakland for the AL West title or even get a wild-card spot, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson really have to up their games in the wake of Garrett Richards' season-ending injury. Weaver starts the ESPN Sunday night finale in Oakland, while Wilson gets the call Saturday. The lefty Wilson (10-8, 4.59) is showing some signs of returning to form. His first two starts off the DL weren't good, but his last two have been as he beat both the Phillies and Red Sox, allowing three combined runs over 12 innings. Wilson has managed to avoid Oakland this season. Jonny Gomes is 6-for-18 with two doubles and a homer off Wilson in his career. All-Star Josh Donaldson is just a .182 hitter in 22 at-bats off him. Oakland's Jon Lester (13-8, 2.58) was acquired to win big games such as these. He won his first three starts with the A's but lost last time out against Atlanta, allowing four runs for the first time since early June. He hasn't faced the Halos in 2014. Josh Hamilton hits him decently, going 7-for-24 with a homer and three knocked in. This game will have live betting at Bovada.
Key trends: The Angels are 1-7 in Wilson's past eight on the road. The A's are 2-5 in their past seven against lefties. The over is 6-1 in Wilson's past seven vs. Oakland.
Early lean: This is Lester's biggest start so far this season. He'll win it. Best value is probably Oakland at +150 on the runline.
Mets at Dodgers (-170, 7)
This could have been a potentially devastating week for both of L.A.'s baseball teams. You know all about the Angels' Richards, but the Dodgers avoided a potential disaster of their own with No. 2 starter Zack Greinke (12-8, 2.75). He was supposed to pitch Thursday but was feeling some discomfort in his elbow. This year, that seems to lead to Tommy John surgery. But the Dodgers feel confident that by pushing Greinke back two days it won't be a problem. He will have had a full seven days off, last pitching Aug. 15 when he shut out the Brewers over five innings. Greinke hasn't won since July 25. He took a no-decision May 22 at the Mets, allowing one earned over five innings. The Mets' Jacob deGrom (6-5, 2.87) is in the Rookie of the Year race, although it probably goes to Cincinnati's Billy Hamilton. DeGrom avoided his own potential injury as he will be activated off the DL after dealing with a bit of rotator-cuff tendinitis. The Mets have won six of his past seven outings. He lost to the Dodgers on May 21, allowing three solo homers (Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig, currently injured Hanley Ramirez) in six innings. That's the only game he has allowed more than one dinger. Bovada is offering live betting on this matchup.
Key trends: L.A. has won 15 of Greinke's past 21 against teams with a losing record. The under has hit in five of deGrom's past seven on the road.
Early lean: Is Greinke really healthy? The Mets are good value at +160 ... assuming deGrom is healthy. Go under regardless at -125.
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