Five to Follow MLB Betting: Tuesday August 19, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 8/18/2014
We have a new World Series favorite at Sportsbook.ag: The Oakland Athletics' slump has cost them the top spot. They are +450 to win the Fall Classic, now behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (+400). That exact World Series matchup is priced at +600. Both the A's and Dodgers open a series on Tuesday night. Here's a look at their games and three other interesting matchups.
Tigers at Rays (+105, 7)
It's probably too late in the Rays' season to make much of a difference this year, but the team is likely to activate 2013 AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers off the disabled list for Tuesday's game. He has been out since May 30 with a wrist injury. Myers had been stuck in the dreaded sophomore slump, hitting just .227 with five homers in 198 at-bats. If activated, he will square off against Tigers ace Max Scherzer, against whom Myers is 2-for-3 with a solo homer. Scherzer (14-4, 2.98) is now looking smart for having turned down that $140 million extension last offseason. He might get $200 million this winter. Scherzer beat the Rays with eight innings of one-run ball July 3. He struck out 14 Pirates over eight scoreless innings in his last start. Tampa Bay's Chris Archer (8-6, 3.24) has had five straight quality starts. He won in Detroit on July 5, allowing two runs and six hits over 8.1 innings. Alex Avila and J.D. Martinez hit solo homers off Archer.
Key trends: The Tigers are 4-1 in Scherzer's past five series-opening starts. The Rays are 1-5 in their past six at home against right-handed starters. Detroit is 4-0 in Scherzer's past four against Tampa.
Early lean: Either guy could pitch a shutout. "Under" at -115.
Braves at Pirates (-130, 7)
Pittsburgh is in a downward spiral right now but might get back Andrew McCutchen for Tuesday's series opener against Atlanta. The former NL MVP favorite has been out since Aug. 3 with a rib injury. I don't want to say the Pirates are rushing him back, but the Pirates are rushing him back. They have to. McCutchen is 5-for-14 career with a double off Atlanta starter Aaron Harang (9-7, 3.51). The Braves have lost his past six starts, and he lasted only 4.1 innings last time out against the Dodgers. Harang clearly had overachieved much of the season, so you could see this coming. Lefty Francisco Liriano (3-9, 3.78) goes for the Bucs. They have lost his past three even though all have been quality starts. Liriano is just 1-4 with a 4.53 ERA at home this year.
Key trends: Atlanta has lost eight straight road games. Pittsburgh has lost five in a row against teams with a winning record. The under is 6-0 in Liriano's past six.
Early lean: Pirates at +165 on the runline is great value.
Mets at A's (-194, 7)
Here's the problem I saw with Oakland trading for Jon Lester: Yes, he's a great pitcher, but he only helps the team once every five days. As opposed to outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who could potentially help Oakland every day. The A's offense has been in a funk for a while in losing five straight and seven of eight. They have scored more than three runs once in that stretch, which was the only victory. Scott Kazmir (13-5, 2.78) looks to end the skid on Tuesday at the Mets, the team that stupidly traded the young hot-shot prospect to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano in July 2004. That was one of the most lopsided deals of this century. Kazmir was lit up when he pitched at Citi Field on June 24, allowing seven runs and eight hits over three innings. The Mets have lost five of the past six starts by Dillon Gee (4-5, 3.69). He is 2-2 with a 3.79 ERA on the road in 2014.
Key trends: The Mets are 1-10 in Gee's past 11 on Tuesday. Oakland is 2-5 in Kazmir's past seven series-opening starts. The "over" is 6-1 in New York's past seven interleague games against lefties.
Early lean: Oakland snaps out of it and wins easily.
Royals at Rockies (+140, 9.5)
So are the Royals for real? After losing their first four games out of the all-star break they haven't dropped a series. They open one of those potential trap two-game interleague series on Colorado on Tuesday night. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see the Rockies win both even though they are terrible and their two best players are out for the season. Lefty Tyler Matzek (2-8, 5.50) gets the call in the opener. He is 2-3 with a 4.60 ERA in five home starts. James Shields (11-6, 3.29) goes for Kansas City. They have won his past three starts. Justin Morneau knows Shields well from his American League days and hits him hard, going 15-for-44 with four home runs and 11 RBIs. So does Michael Cuddyer (.412, homer, five RBIs in 17 at-bats).
Key trends: The Royals have won seven straight interleague road games. Colorado is 1-10 in Matzek's past 11 starts. The under is 4-1 in Shields' past five.
Early lean: Obviously I have to go with Colorado after what I wrote above. Royals had to travel Monday night and visit a park they aren't familiar with.
Padres at Dodgers (-130, 7)
Los Angeles isn't taking advantage of the San Francisco Giants' struggles as L.A. has lost three straight and six of 10 with a chance to really put some distance between itself and second-place San Francisco in the NL West. The Dodgers were just swept at home by Milwaukee in a three-game set. New addition Kevin Correia (6-13, 4.79) looks to end that skid on Tuesday. He looked good in his NL debut, allowing just a run over six innings against the Braves. His final start with the Twins was against San Diego, allowing three runs over six innings in a no-decision. Ian Kennedy (9-10, 3.54) goes for the Padres. He is 0-1 with a 3.50 ERA in three starts against San Diego in 2014.
Key trends: San Diego has lost four straight after an off day. The Dodgers have lost six in a row at home against right-handed starters. The under is 15-3 in the past 18 meetings.
Early lean: Hard to discount that under trend even though Correia wasn't a part of any of them.
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