Five to Follow MLB Betting: Friday April 25, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 4/24/2014
The clear series of the weekend in baseball, at least to television executives, is the Angels visiting the Yankees. Maybe it could be an ALDS preview. Friday's game will have live betting at Bovada as will Rockies-Dodgers. Here's a look at the five most interesting games Friday.
Angels at Yankees (-128, 8.5)
I was one day early on dealing with Albert Pujols' chase for 500 home runs. I write these stories the minute the next-day lines are out, so when I looked at Wednesday's Angels-Nationals game as a chance for Pujols to get to No. 500, I was a day late/early -- that story posted Tuesday, which is the night he hit two dingers against the Nationals to reach the magic number. Pujols was the first player to hit No. 499 and 500 in the same game. He is having a monster bounce-back season, batting .284 with an MLB-best eight homers as well as 20 RBIs. The Angels could really be something offensively whenever Josh Hamilton gets back. Pujols is 6-for-22 with a home run off Friday's Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda (2-1, 4.07). He has not looked sharp in his past two starts. Kuroda faced the Halos once in 2013, pitching eight shutout innings in a win. L.A. starts lefty C.J. Wilson (2-2, 4.21) in the series opener. He was 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA in two starts last year against the Bombers. Derek Jeter is a career .381 hitter off him with a home run in 21 at-bats. Alfonso Soriano is 5-for-9 with a dinger.
Key trends: The Angels are 4-0 in Wilson's past four series openers. The Yankees are 6-0 in their past series openers. The "over" is 13-3 in L.A.'s past 16 series openers. The "under" is 6-1 in New York's past six home games.
Early lean: Wilson often pitches well against the Yanks, so the Halos are the choice.
Red Sox at Blue Jays (-117, 8)
Your American League Cy Young leader right now is Toronto lefty Mark Buehrle as he is tied for the AL lead with four wins and is tops in the majors with a 0.64 ERA. It's the best start by far of his career and about polar opposite in how he began the 2013 season when the Jays were a huge disappointment. No player has gone deep off Buehrle yet in 28 innings, and he has allowed only 21 hits and five walks. Buehrle faced the Red Sox more than any team in 2013, going 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA in five starts. David Ortiz is a career .329 hitter with three home runs and 13 RBIs vs. Buehrle. Grady Sizemore has four homers off Buehrle but also 10 strikeouts and a .217 average in 69 at-bats. Jake Peavy (0-0, 3.33) starts for Boston. He was good in his first three starts but allowed five runs and 10 hits in 5.2 innings last time out against Baltimore. Peavy allowed two runs in six innings in his lone 2013 start against Toronto. He has had Jose Bautista's number as Bautista is just 3-for-17 off Peavy.
Key trends: Boston is 0-4 in Peavy's past four series openers. The Blue Jays are 5-0 in their past five series openers. The under is 4-0 in Buehrle's past four against the Red Sox.
Early lean: Stick with the hot hand of Buehrle.
Cubs at Brewers (-174, TBA)
It's hard these days to get a ton of prospects in a trade for a player who will become a free agent after the same season. That's because players traded midseason can't be given a qualifying offer, and thus the team that traded for said player won't be able to recoup a draft pick should he not re-sign. Despite that, the Cubs landed quite a haul when they traded Matt Garza to Texas last summer, a deal Rangers GM Jon Daniels said he truly regrets now. Garza (0-2, 4.50) faces his former mates for the first time Friday. That the Brewers have started the season so strong despite Garza being winless is pretty surprising. He was excellent his first start but has allowed 16 runs and 25 hits over 18 innings in his past three. Not many Cubs have faced Garza. Emilio Bonifacio is 4-for-11 off him. The Cubs start Carlos Villanueva (1-4, 10.93). He has been rocked for 14 runs and 19 hits over 7.2 innings in his past two starts. He will leave the rotation whenever Jake Arrieta is ready to return from his injury rehab, which should be soon. Mark Reynolds is 5-for-16 with two home runs off Villanueva.
Key trends: The Cubs are 2-10 in their past 12 series openers. The Brewers are 7-2 in their past nine Game 1s. The under is 6-0 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Villanueva is probably one of the five worst starters in the majors. Take the Brewers on the runline too. I presume total is awaiting whether the roof will be open or closed at Miller Park.
A's at Astros (+163, 8.5)
I really don't know how the A's are able to dig up guys better than probably any team. Every year there's a hitter or pitcher that you can't believe is succeeding in Oakland. And so far this year that guy is pitcher Jesse Chavez (1-0, 1.38). The 30-year-old has bounced around since 2008 and had made just two career starts entering this season. Chavez has allowed exactly one earned run in all four starts this year. His last outing was at home against these Astros, giving up four hits over six innings in a 4-1 win. Houston counters with right-hander Brad Peacock (0-2, 6.14). Houston has lost all five games in which he has pitched. Just one of those was a start, which was opposite Chavez on April 20. He allowed two runs over five innings. Coco Crisp is 4-for-10 career off Peacock, with all four hits for extra bases (one home run). Once again Houston is the biggest home dog on the board.
Key trends: The Astros are 1-6 in Peacock's past seven starts against teams with a winning record. The over is 8-1 in Oakland's past nine Friday games.
Early lean: Chavez will be proven to be a fluke but not yet.
Phillies at Diamondbacks (-132, 9.5)
I'm rather tired of talking about how bad the Diamondbacks are, but the news just gets worse. While Arizona had a tremendous comeback win at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, the Snakes also got news that Mark Trumbo, their big offseason acquisition, has a stress fracture in his left foot. He's obviously out a long while. For comparison, he had a stress fracture in his right foot three seasons ago, and it took him over five months to heal. Trumbo says this one isn't as bad. Trumbo entered Thursday tied for the NL lead with seven home runs and No. 2 with 19 RBIs. It's time for Arizona to start selling -- this season is over. The Snakes will face Philadelphia's Roberto Hernandez (1-0, 5.75) in Friday's series opener. He was clobbered in his last start in Colorado, but the Phillies still won the game. Arizona counters with Josh Collmenter (0-2, 4.50). He has lost two straight starts, allowing seven runs over 10 innings. Not many Phillies have seen him. This is the highest total of all the games.
Key trends: Arizona is 0-7 in its past seven at home against a righty starter. The over is 4-1 in Collmenter's past five home starts. The under is 4-0 in the past four meetings in the desert.
Early lean: Normally a team has an advantage at home. Not Arizona. It's 1-11 there and now no Trumbo. Take the Phillies.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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