Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday August 28, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 8/27/2014
I wouldn't consider it likely, but should either Oakland or the L.A. Angels sweep this weekend's four-game series, that team would take control of the AL West and the potential top seed in the American League. Should one team get swept, it might force that panicked GM to make a trade before the waiver deadline. The Angels, for example, are looking for starting pitching in the wake of Garrett Richards' injury. Oakland is the -150 division favoriteat Sportsbook.ag, with the Angels at -130. Here's a look at that matchup and four other interesting ones on Thursday.
Yankees at Tigers (+106, 8.5)
I'm most certainly not going to mention every time Derek Jeter plays his last game in a ballpark the rest of the way, but he will at Comerica Park in Detroit in Thursday's getaway day game (assuming he doesn't sit). I expect the Yankees' final playoff game with Jeter as a member of the team will remain in Detroit in the 2012 ALCS. He broke his ankle in Game 1 of that series at Yankee Stadium, and New York was swept, losing the last two at Comerica. Jeter hasn't been the same since. The Tigers got more bad news on Wednesday as Anibal Sanchez had a setback and might now be done for the season. So they are patching that No. 5 spot with random guys, and some dude named Kyle Lobstein (0-0, 4.76) will make his first big-league start here. The lefty pitched 5.2 innings of relief last week against Minnesota. Hideki Kuroda (9-8, 3.94) faced Detroit on Aug. 5 and allowed three runs over seven innings in a no-decision. Miguel Cabrera is 5-for-12 with two homers off him.
Key trends: The Yankees have won seven of their past eight Thursday games. They are 4-1 in their past five against lefties. The "over/under" has gone under is 4-0 in Kuroda's past four against Detroit.
Early lean: I get why Detroit is a dog because no one has a clue about Lobstein. But the Yankees don't know him, either. Take the Tigers.
Braves at Mets (+113, 7)
I think any day now the Mets are going to shut down third baseman David Wright for the season. He has been bothered by a shoulder injury since June, and it's not going away. Entering Wednesday, Wright is hitting .215 with no homers and eight RBIs in 135 second-half at-bats. He hasn't homered in 143 at-bats, his longest career drought. The Mets will want to finish with one of the 10 worst records for free-agent purposes, so they might as well shut him down. New York closes a series with Atlanta on Thursday night. Lefty Jon Niese (7-9, 3.47) hasn't been good since the All-Star Break, going 2-5 with a 4.63 ERA. He hasn't faced Atlanta since April 18 when he allowed a run over six innings. Jason Heyward (.375, two HRs, eight RBIs) and Freddie Freeman (.300, two HRs, six RBIs) hit him well. Atlanta lefty Mike Minor (5-8, 4.90) has been much better in his past two starts, winning both and allowing a combined three runs over 14.2 innings. He is 0-0 with a 4.76 ERA in two starts this year vs. the Mets.
Key trends: Atlanta has won five straight against left-handers. The Mets are 0-5 in Niese's past five vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-1 in Niese's past six against Atlanta.
Early lean: Minor seems to have figured things out, so take the Braves.
Rangers at Astros (-132, 8.5)
Chris Carter, MLB Home Run champion? Yeah, if you had that wager down in the spring, kudos to you. All Carter does is homer or strike out, but he's now up to 32 dingers entering Wednesday after hitting a game-winner Tuesday against Oakland. He has 11 dingers this month and is just two behind big-league leader Nelson Cruz's 34 homers. Just think, the terrible Astros could have a home run king in Carter and the AL batting champion in Jose Altuve. Carter hasn't gone yard in seven career at-bats against Thursday's Rangers starter Nick Tepesch (4-8, 4.45). He was rocked for six runs in 6.1 innings last time out by Kansas City. Tepesch pitched in Houston in his 2014 debut on May 14, allowing a run over 5.1 innings. Houston's Collin McHugh (6-9, 3.02) has allowed two runs or fewer in his past five starts. He has never faced Texas.
Key trends: Texas is 1-7 in its past eight series openers. The Rangers have won five straight Tepesch series openers. The under is 6-0 in Tepesch's past six vs. the AL West.
Early lean: Astros are still playing hard. Rangers are making golf plans. Take Houston.
Rockies at Giants (-169, 7.5)
San Francisco demoted struggling two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum to the bullpen and will trot out right-hander Yusmeiro Petit in his place at least for Thursday. I'm not sure that's a great idea as Petit has a 1.84 ERA as a reliever but is 1-2 with a 6.32 ERA in six starts this year. This is the type of game against a terrible team that has barely any good players left healthy that the Giants simply have to win. Lincecum has proven he can excel out of the bullpen, but San Francisco might be in the market for pitching before the waiver trade deadline in a few days. Jordan Lyles (6-1, 4.05) starts for the Rockies in this getaway day game. He is 1-0 with a 5.73 ERA in four starts this month after missing two months on the DL.
Key trends: The Rockies are 4-1 in Lyles' past five vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 7-1 in his past eight on the road. The over is 4-1 in Petit's past five starts.
Early lean: I generally like pitchers' duels in day-after-night games but not here as this total is a run too low considering the starters. Over at +105.
A's at Angels (+106, 7)
Obviously this is the series of the weekend. The A's won two of three at home against the Angels last weekend. This is the last time Oakland visits Anaheim this regular season. Sonny Gray (13-7, 3.00) gets the call for Oakland in the opener. He had lost four straight starts before beating the Angels on Aug. 22, allowing three runs over 8.1 innings. Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton each hit solo homers off him. Lefty C.J. Wilson (10-8, 4.45) lost in Oakland on Aug. 23 despite allowing just a run over 6.1 innings. The Angels have to be encouraged he has pitched much better his past three starts (1.96 ERA). Jonny Gomes is 7-for-20 with a home run in his career off Wilson. Otherwise most key A's struggle against him.
Key trends: The A's are 0-6 in their past six road games vs. lefties. The Angels are 7-1 in Wilson's past eight at home. The over is 7-3-1 in the past 11 meetings. L.A. is 4-1 in Wilson's past five vs. Oakland.
Early lean: Angels as home dogs with Wilson looking rejuvenated? Jump on it. I have a feeling this line will move closer to a "pick'em".
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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