Five to Follow MLB Betting: Saturday September 6, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 9/5/2014
It has been an odd year of MLB firings. On Friday, the Arizona Diamondbacks fired general manager Kevin Towers, which really is no surprise with Tony La Russa now running things. Manager Kirk Gibson could be next, but now we have had two general managers fired (also the Padres' Josh Byrnes) compared to just one manager (Houston's Bo Porter). That's unusual. The GMs are the ones who picked the manager (usually) so why keep one and not the other? Hopefully the books will offer a prop on next manager canned, although it certainly will be after the season at this point. Here's a look at five interesting matchups on Saturday.
Giants at Tigers (-115, 7)
This is a possible World Series matchup, which is priced at +6000 on Sportsbook.ag. Both teams could win their division (the only two division races really still in doubt), both could be wild cards or both could miss the playoffs. Or a mix of the scenarios. Obviously the Giants get the DH in this series, but they remain without a guy they could use there, Michael Morse, due to a strained oblique. It should be a good pitching matchup. Lefty Madison Bumgarner (16-9, 2.97) goes for the Giants. He was 4-1 with an NL-best 1.57 ERA and 56 strikeouts in August. He has never faced the Tigers. Fellow lefty David Price (13-10, 3.25) has been a bit up and down with the Tigers. He was very up last time out, holding the Indians to a run over seven innings. Hunter Pence is one of the few Giants to have faced him, going 2-for-8 with a solo homer.
Key trends: The Giants are 1-6 in Bumgarner's past seven against teams with a winning record. Detroit has lost four straight against lefties. The "over/under" has gone under in Bumgarner's past seven against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: This is a 1:05 ET start after a night game. That plus two great lefties = under at -125. I lean Detroit because Bumgarner doesn't have great interleague splits against those tougher AL lineups.
Royals at Yankees (-112, 8.5)
The Bombers won't quite go away as they enter play Friday four games out of the second wild-card spot, although I'd consider it a minor miracle if they got it over Detroit/Kansas City or Seattle (I'm ceding the top spot to Oakland). The Yanks are hopeful that outfielder Martin Prado can play on Saturday. He has been a solid deadline pickup, hitting .292 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 106 at-bats. Prado is dealing with a hamstring injury and hasn't played since Tuesday. As long as he remains out, Ichiro will be the starting right fielder. Speaking of smart trade deadline pickups, GM Brian Cashman absolutely stole Brandon McCarthy from Arizona. He is 5-4 with a 2.80 ERA with New York, although his last two starts have been a bit shakier, and the Yanks lost both. Lefty Danny Duffy (8-11, 2.42) starts for K.C. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in four straight starts. Duffy took a no-decision on June 7 vs. the Yankees, allowing three runs over 5.2 innings.
Key trends: The Royals are 6-1 in Duffy's past seven. New York is 5-2 in its past seven against left-handers. The under is 5-0 in Duffy's past five road starts vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: This total is a run too high. Go under at -120.
Phillies at Nationals (-185, 7.5)
Looking for the worst pitcher in the National League not named Edwin Jackson since the All-Star Break? I nominate Philadelphia's A.J. Burnett (7-15, 4.40), who is tied for the MLB lead in losses. He was a solid 6-8 with a 3.83 ERA before the break and is 1-7 with a 5.85 ERA since. Oh, and he has a player option next year for $10 million. Yet another brilliant Phillies contract. This will be Burnett's sixth start against Washington this season and he is 3-2 with a 4.13 ERA. Adam LaRoche is a career .343 hitter off him with two homers. Anthony Rendon is 6-for-15 with three homers and eight knocked in. Washington's Tanner Roark (12-9, 2.91) has lost back-to-back starts. He is 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA in three starts vs. the Phils.
Key trends: The Phillies are 0-7 in Burnett's past seven on the road. Washington is 11-1 in its past 12 on Saturdays. The over is 6-1 in Burnett's past seven on the road. The over is 4-1 in his past five vs. Washington.
Early lean: Go Nats at +115 on the runline and over at -115.
Pirates at Cubs (+131, TBA)
The Cubs pitching coach has worked wonders with reclamation projects such as Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel and Scott Feldman. Now Chicago is hoping he can do the same with lefty Felix Doubront, who was acquired from Boston for a song. Doubront was pretty good with the 2013 champion Red Sox but struggled big time this year and was sent to the bullpen. Doubront (3-4, 5.56) made his first appearance with Chicago on Aug. 30 and looked good, holding the Cardinals to one run over seven innings in a win. He'll stick in the rotation the rest of the year so the Cubs can see what they have. The Pirates have lost the past six times that southpaw Francisco Liriano (3-10, 3.91) has taken the mound. His last two starts were quality outings, however. He has a 2.00 ERA in nine innings against the Cubs in 2014.
Key trends: The Pirates are 1-6 in Liriano's past seven vs. teams with a losing record. The Cubs are 2-12 in their past 14 Saturday games. The under is 10-1 in Liriano's past 11 road starts.
Early lean: Both teams played a day game Friday, which means a night on the town no doubt, then another day game here. That sounds like an under to me. Likely will open at 7.5.
Angels at Twins (-105, 8)
Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton left Thursday's game with right shoulder soreness and didn't play Friday, so it's probably no better than 50/50 that he's in there for this one. He received a cortisone shot to help things along. Hamilton is hitting .263 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs while making $25 million a season. You have to love guaranteed contracts. Because of the season-ending injury to Garrett Richards, the Halos are going patchwork with the fifth turn in their rotation. That comes up here and will go to Cory Rasmus (3-1, 2.48). He's normally a reliever and a pretty solid one. He started last Saturday vs. Oakland and pitched three scoreless innings. Rasmus will not go the full five to qualify for a decision, but sometimes mixing and matching relievers can really mess up an opposing lineup. It just might catch up to the Angels on Sunday if the bullpen is worn out. So keep that in mind. Minnesota's Phil Hughes (15-9, 3.54) is 5-1 with a 1.67 ERA in his past six starts. Howie Kendrick is 6-for-13 career off him with a dinger and six knocked in.
Key trends: The Twins have won six straight Hughes starts vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 8-1 in his past nine.
Early lean: Surprised under is the +105 dog. Take it.
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