Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday September 11, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 9/10/2014
We all know there is no crying in baseball -- thank you, "A League of Their Own" -- but there is definitely tanking in baseball. And you are going to start seeing it as teams jockey to finish with one of the 10 worst records to avoid having to cough up a first-round pick to sign a top-tier free agent. Several guys already have been or will be shut down very soon on teams that have no chance at contention and would benefit by losing. It's a great time of year to make money against those clubs. Here's a look at five interesting games Thursday, a schedule that features four matinee starts.
Diamondbacks at Giants (-180, 7.5)
San Francisco's trade for Jake Peavy from Boston didn't make a huge splash before the deadline because Peavy had been struggling with the Red Sox. A return to the National League has totally rejuvenated the guy, and that deal might be the difference between San Francisco making the playoffs or not. Peavy is 4-4 with a 2.36 ERA in eight starts with the team. Peavy didn't allow an earned run over six innings in his last start at Detroit. He hasn't faced Arizona this season. The Snakes go with Randall Delgado (3-3, 5.46). Delgado just returned to the rotation on Sept. 4, holding San Diego scoreless over five innings. He has pitched 8.1 innings vs. San Francisco in 2014 and allowed four runs and eight hits. Buster Posey hasn't had much success off him yet, going 1-for-8.
Key trends: The Giants have won seven straight at home vs. right-handed starters. The "over/under" has gone over in seven of Delgado's past nine on the road. San Francisco is 2-5 in its past seven on Thursday.
Early lean: San Francisco at +120 on the runline.
Nationals at Mets (+113, 7)
In absolutely no surprise, the Mets have decided to shut down All-Star third baseman David Wright for the final three weeks or so. They should have done this a few weeks ago as he's been dealing with a sore shoulder for a while. He was hitting just .238 with no homers and only seven extra-base hits since the All-Star Break. The Mets open a series Thursday night with Washington, which could clinch the NL East by early next week. Bartolo Colon (13-11, 3.96) takes the mound for the Mets. He has a very nice 2.57 ERA in three starts against the Nats but is 1-2. Ian Desmond is 4-for-9 career off him with two homers. Huge surprise Tanner Roark goes for Washington. Roark (12-10, 2.97) has lost three straight starts but hasn't pitched badly. He is 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA vs. New York.
Key trends: The Mets are 7-0 in Colon's past seven series-opening starts. The "over" is 5-0 in Washington's past five on the road against right-handers. Washington is an obscene 25-4 in the past 29 at the Mets.
Early lean: Under at -110.
Red Sox at Royals (-128, 8)
It hasn't officially happened yet, but it could by the time you read this: Boston will shut down second baseman Dustin Pedroia. A recent MRI confirmed there is increased inflammation in his left thumb/wrist, and Manager John Farrell said this was coming. Reportedly a decision on surgery will come Wednesday, and that would be on the thumb. Might as well, Pedroia is hitting only .188 this month. Boston goes with Clay Buchholz (7-8, 5.29) in Thursday night's series opener. He has had three straight quality outings, and Boston has won them all. Buchholz beat Kansas City on July 18, allowing four runs and 10 hits over six innings. Alex Gordon is a career .455 hitter off him. Kansas City's Liam Hendriks (1-1, 4.81) makes a spot start because Danny Duffy is dealing with shoulder inflammation. Hendriks replaced Duffy last Saturday early against the Yankees and took the loss, allowing four runs in four innings.
Key trends: Boston is 2-5 in Buchholz's past seven against teams with a winning record. The Royals are 7-1 in their past eight at home vs. teams with a losing record. Boston is 5-0 in Buchholz's past five vs. K.C.
Early lean: This feels a bit like a trap game for the Royals. They come off a monster series in Detroit on Wednesday and are starting a guy they normally wouldn't. Meanwhile, Buchholz appears to have turned things around. Take Boston.
Rays at Yankees (-122, 7)
New York still has very much to play for but has lost outfielder Brett Gardner, perhaps the team's best position player this season, indefinitely to an abdominal strain. He has a .269 batting average, 16 homers, 56 RBIs and 19 stolen bases. The Bombers need to start winning at about an .800 clip starting right about now to snag a wild-card spot. They start Michael Pineda (3-4, 1.80) in Thursday's series finale. He hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in five starts since returning from his long DL stint. Pineda hasn't faced the Rays this year. One of my favorite young pitchers, Alex Cobb, goes for the Rays. Cobb (9-7, 2.83) blanked the Orioles on six hits over seven innings last time out and blanked New York on six hits over 7.1 innings on Aug. 15. Mark Teixeira is about the only Yankee with career success off him, going 4-for-9 with a homer.
Key trends: The Rays have won four straight Thursday starts by Cobb. The "under" is 7-0 in his past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-0 in Pineda's past five vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 6-1 in Cobb's past seven vs. NYY.
Early lean: Like Cobb as an underdog. Also go under.
Angels at Rangers (+150, 9.5)
Los Angeles keeps rolling along but now has a legitimate concern if Josh Hamilton will be able to help the team the rest of the way. He hasn't played since last Thursday with a stiff shoulder, and a cortisone shot apparently hasn't solved the problem. The Halos have the AL West in the bag so they don't have to rush him, but they definitely want that top seed in the American League. Cory Rasmus (3-1, 2.81) makes another spot start for L.A. He lasted just 1.2 innings last Saturday against the Twins. Rasmus has pitched two innings this year in relief vs. Texas, allowing a run. The Rangers have lost the past three starts of Nick Martinez (3-10, 5.03). He is 0-1 with a 3.45 ERA in 15.2 innings this year against the Angels. Kole Calhoun is 3-for-6 with a homer off Martinez.
Key trends: Texas has lost seven straight Thursday games and six straight Martinez home starts. The under is 6-1 in Martinez's past seven.
Early lean: Texas has to win a game here or there. Martinez has pitched better of late. Rangers are solid dog value against a questionable Angels starter who won't last but a few innings.
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