Five to Follow MLB Betting: Friday July 18, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 7/17/2014
Entering the second half of the baseball season we know that the American League will have home-field advantage in the World Series. Thus, you can get a Fall Classic price right now at Sportsbook.ag with the AL as a -115 favorite, although the Series rarely goes seven games these days. The favored World Series matchup by far is Dodgers against A's at +700. I wonder if any of the books might put out a prop on a California team winning the Series against the field. Think I'd take the Golden State. Here's a look at five interesting matchups on Friday.
Brewers at Nationals (-157, 7.5)
If there's one guy in baseball I'm rooting for to hit a home run or do something big this weekend it's Brewers shortstop Jean Segura. He just rejoined the Brewers after leaving the team when his 9-month-old son died suddenly from an illness. It's rather shocking the Brewers are in first considering Segura is hitting just .232 after being an All-Star in 2013. If he plays Friday, Segura is 1-for-3 career off Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg (7-6, 3.46). The right-hander was bombed by the Brewers in Milwaukee on June 25, allowing seven runs and two homers. Khris Davis and Scooter Gennett hit the home runs. Kyle Lohse goes for Milwaukee. Lohse (9-4, 3.26) has lost back-to-back starts. He hasn't faced Washington this season. Jayson Werth is a career .333 hitter off him with three homers and six RBIs in 27 at-bats.
Key trends: The Brewers are 1-6 in their past seven against right-handers. The Nats are 6-1 in their past seven at home against teams with a winning road record. The "over" is 7-0 in Strasburg's past seven series openers.
Early lean: Milwaukee is starting to show its warts. Take the Nats at +120 on the runline.
Rangers at Blue Jays (-101, 8.5)
If you had the Texas Rangers with the worst record in baseball at the All-Star Break, kudos to you. It's quite shocking. At 38-57, the Rangers are not only the lone team yet to reach 40 wins but they also enter on an MLB-worst eight-game skid and with the worst run differential in baseball at -108. It's time to sell off players and punt on the season for GM Jon Daniels. The only guy who is safe is likely Friday starter Yu Darvish (8-5, 2.97). He didn't pitch well in his final two starts before the break, allowing 10 runs and 15 hits over 11 innings. He lost to the Blue Jays on May 16 despite allowing only two runs over eight innings. R.A. Dickey starts for struggling Toronto. Dickey (7-9, 3.82) faced the Rangers on May 18 and allowed four runs in 6.1 innings. He has lost five of his past six starts.
Key trends: The Rangers are 1-11 in their past 12 road games. The Jays are 1-5 in their past six against teams with a losing record. The under is 7-0 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Rangers have quit and Jays are injury-ravaged. Go under at -105.
Royals at Red Sox (-124, 8)
If you aren't a devout Red Sox fan and say you have heard of Brock Holt before this season, I don't believe you. He had 124 career at-bats between the Pirates and Red Sox entering this year, but he's been great for Boston since getting regular playing time. Few are hotter than him entering the second half. Holt has 10 hits in his past 15 at bats, with three of those the extra-base variety. Holt will get his first-ever look at Royals starter James Shields (9-5, 3.65). The Royals have lost four of his past five outings. Shields hasn't faced Boston this season. Big Papi is a career .316 hitter with three homers and 16 RBIs off him in 57 at-bats. The Sox start the vastly disappointing Clay Buchholz (4-5, 5.42). Maybe he figured something out in his final start before the break, throwing a complete-game, three-hit shutout in Houston. In a schedule twist, he will be starting in consecutive games for Boston.
Key trends: The Royals are 8-0 in Shields' past eight against the AL East. The Sox are 1-9 in their past 10 at home against teams with a winning record. Boston is 4-0 in Buchholz's past four against K.C.
Early lean: If the Sox have one season-saving run in them it has to start now. Go Boston.
Mariners at Angels (-136, 7)
Los Angeles enters the second half with the longest winning streak in baseball at five games, and this starts a 10-game homestand, albeit all against playoff contenders. Jered Weaver gets the call here. Weaver (10-6, 3.45) is 1-1 with a 4.38 ERA in two starts this year against Seattle, although the Halos have won his past five outings overall. Seattle's Justin Smoak should get a start at first as he's a career .290 hitter with three dingers and eight RBIs in 31 at-bats off Weaver. Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4, 2.98) goes for the M's. He hasn't faced the Angels this season. Iwakuma has won three straight starts, allowing a combined three runs over 21.2 innings. All-Star Game MVP Mike Trout struggles against the guy, going 3-for-19 with six strikeouts.
Key trends: The Mariners are 6-0 in Iwakuma's past six road starts. The Angels are 10-1 in their past 11 against right-handers. Seattle is 6-0 in Iwakuma's past six against the Halos.
Early lean: Iwakuma seems great underdog value considering his history against the Halos.
Mets at Padres (-126, 6)
This matchup is interesting because it features two pitchers who are fairly likely to be in different uniforms by Aug. 1, the day after the trade deadline. They might be the two most available second-tier pitchers (i.e. below David Price, Cole Hamels) on the market. Bartolo Colon starts for the Mets. Colon (8-8, 3.99) has lost three straight starts but beat the Padres on June 18, allowing two runs over 7.1 innings. San Diego's Ian Kennedy (7-9, 3.47) has been rumored as a top target of the Angels, but plugged-in Fox reporter Ken Rosenthal reported that the teams "do no match up" in terms of what the Padres want and the Halos can give. Kennedy's value is sky high at the moment as he hasn't allowed more than a run in three straight starts.
Key trends: The Mets are 5-1 in their past six against right-handers. San Diego is 4-0 in Kennedy's past four at home. The under is 6-0 in San Diego's past six series openers.
Early lean: Neither team can hit. I'll rarely go under 6, but do it here at -105. Probably ends 2-1 in 12 innings or something.
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