Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday August 21, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 8/20/2014
Any day now, Cuban star Rusney Castillo is going to sign with a big-league club, and he could make an impact on the pennant races when the rosters expand in September if he goes to Detroit, San Francisco or the New York Yankees, three teams that could use outfield upgrades and are in the mix for him. Castillo can also play second or third. He isn't considered as powerful as Jose Abreu or Yoenis Cespedes but has above-average power and very good speed. He could be an interesting late-season addition. The Red Sox, Cubs and Phillies are in the mix too.
Indians at Twins (+120, 7)
I'll be fascinated to see if Corey Kluber is a one-year wonder for the Tribe. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway worked wonders with Ubaldo Jimenez last year, and now Jimenez stinks with the Orioles and has been demoted to the bullpen. Kluber was darn good last year at 11-5 with a 3.85 ERA. This year Kluber is a dominant 13-6 with a 2.41. He 7-1 with a 1.19 ERA in his past 10 starts. Somehow Kluber hasn't faced the division rival Twins yet in 2014. Joe Mauer hits him pretty well, going 5-for-13 with a double, triple, homer and three RBIs. Phil Hughes (13-8, 3.76) has been a great signing for the Twins. He has won three straight starts with a 1.33 ERA and 22 strikeouts against only three walks. Hughes hasn't faced Cleveland this year. This is a getaway day game, so you could see a few starters sit.
Key trends: The Indians are 5-1 in Kluber's past six against teams with a losing record. Minnesota is 5-0 in Hughes' past five vs. teams with a losing record. The "under" is 6-0 in Kluber's past six on the road and Hughes' past six overall.
Early lean: This looks like a 2-1 game. Under at -105.
Astros at Yankees (-156, 8)
Here's another getaway day game that could affect the starting lineups, although the Yankees are home this weekend, so they may be less apt to bench regulars because they have to win every game from here on out. Brandon McCarthy (7-12, 4.24) takes the mound for the Bombers. He has a 2.30 ERA in seven starts with New York but has lost his past two despite allowing just two earned over 6.1 innings in each because the Yankees have been shut out in both. He was roughed up with Houston on June 11, allowing five runs and two homers in six innings, but McCarthy was a vastly different pitcher then with Arizona. Lefty Dallas Keuchel (10-8, 3.11) has just one victory in his past five starts despite an ERA of 2.50 in that stretch. He has never faced the Yankees. Chase Headley is 2-for-3 with a solo homer off him.
Key trends: Houston is 6-2 in Keuchel's past eight against teams with a winning record. New York is 1-5 in its past six at home against lefties.
Early lean: New York at +140 on the runline.
Tigers at Rays (+104, 6.5)
Another early start after a night game, and it will no doubt have some extra meaning for Tigers pitcher David Price (12-8, 3.12) as he starts against the Rays for the first time since being traded to Detroit at the July 31 deadline. Price was a career 35-27 with a 2.89 ERA at Tropicana Field. He had his best outing with Detroit last time out, holding the Mariners to a run and three hits over eight innings in his first Tigers win. Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.19) opposes Price. He hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his past seven starts. His ERA has dropped a run over that stretch. The last time he allowed more than two: July 4 at Detroit when he gave up three runs over five innings.
Key trends: The Rays are 8-2 in their past 10 against left-handers. They are 5-2 in Cobb's past seven against teams with a winning record. The under is 7-1 in Cobb's past eight with five days of rest.
Early lean: Cobb is a fine young pitcher, but Price will want this one. Take the Tigers.
Diamondbacks at Nationals (-180, 7)
All season I expected Washington to pull away from Atlanta in the NL East, and that's finally happening as the Nationals are the hottest team in the National League (although the Braves are also playing well) and lead the NL now by a wide margin in run differential, which is a great stat to tell you how good a club is. Should Washington win Wednesday night, it would be going for a franchise record-tying 10th straight win in this getaway day game. Lefty Gio Gonzalez (6-9, 4.06) takes the hill. He's been the weak link of the rotation of late. He personally hasn't won since July 5. The Snakes counter with lefty Wade Miley (7-9, 4.46). They have lost his past three, although the previous two were quality starts. You might see Nats reserve outfielder Scott Hairston get a spot start as he's 5-for-13 career off Miley with three doubles, a homer and eight RBIs.
Key trends: Arizona is 2-9 in its past 11 Game 4s of a series. Miley has lost his past four Game 4 starts. Washington is 8-1 in Gonzalez's past nine against the NL West. The under is 8-0 in Miley's past eight road starts vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: This is the finale of a long road trip for Arizona, meaning the Diamondbacks will only be half into it mentally. Take Washington at +120 on the runline.
Braves at Reds (+139, 8)
The Reds have been one of the worst teams in the NL since the All-Star Break, and they have to be moderately concerned about the sore shoulder of fire-balling closer Aroldis Chapman. He was unavailable on Monday and Tuesday, and I'm sure they will handle the Cuban with kid gloves. You could tell something was off with Chapman in his last outing when he walked four straight Colorado Rockies. David Holmberg (0-0, 16.88) gets the start for the Reds, called up from Triple-A. His only big-league outing this season was July 8 vs. the Cubs and he was rocked for five runs -- three homers -- in 2.2 innings. Atlanta's Julio Teheran (11-9, 3.06) ended a three-start losing streak last time out by holding Oakland to two runs in six innings. Arguably his best start of the season was April 27 vs. the Reds, blanking them on three hits over eight innings.
Key trends: Atlanta is 9-2 in Teheran's past 11 road starts against teams with a losing record. The Reds have lost five straight series openers. The Braves are 2-7 in their past nine at Cincinnati.
Early lean: I will rarely say take the runline on a visiting team, but do so here with Atlanta at +110.
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