Five to Follow MLB Betting: Friday July 25, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 7/24/2014
Even in those years where it's fairly quiet at the trade deadline, which this one might be with so many teams thinking they are still in the playoff hunt, you always see relievers dealt. They are essentially a dime a dozen and generally on fairly team-friendly contracts. Every team needs bullpen help. With that said, the first domino in that market might have fallen Wednesday night when the plummeting Rangers sent closer Joakim Soria to Detroit. Who closes for Texas now? Here's the answer to that and four other interesting matchups on Friday.
Diamondbacks at Phillies (-122, 8)
I mentioned the other day that Minnesota's Joe Mauer might have the worst contract in baseball right now. A close second might be that of Philadelphia's Ryan Howard, who is owed an obscene $60 million to him through 2016. Howard is beyond lousy now and apparently no longer the team's starter at first. Manager Ryne Sandberg said Wednesday he officially will platoon with Darin Ruf. Really he's saying he wants to see what Ruf can do. Howard, who might be waived after the season (he still gets his money), absolutely will never see the light of day against lefties. Arizona starts one Friday in Wade Miley (6-6, 4.16). He has had three straight quality starts and won them all. Ruf is 1-for-3 off Miley career with a solo homer. Kyle Kendrick starts for the Phillies. Kendrick (4-10, 4.87) might lose his rotation spot with another lousy outing. He has allowed at least five runs in each of his past three starts, not lasting more than 5.2 innings in any of them. Miguel Montero is 6-for-12 with a homer career off him. Martin Prado is 9-for-23 with a homer and four knocked in.
Key trends: The Snakes have won four straight against teams with a losing record. The Phillies are 1-5 in their past six against teams with a losing record. Arizona is 3-13 in its past 16 in Philadelphia.
Early lean: With the way Miley is rolling and Kendrick is struggling, the Phils are favorites? Take Arizona.
Nationals at Reds (+103, 7.5)
Oft-injured Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmermann (.282, 36 RBIs) has landed back on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, and it might be a serious one. Don't expect him back in the 15-day timeframe. The Nats just can't seem to get their whole team healthy at once for an extended stretch. Zimmermann is pretty overpaid himself. Washington's defense actually improves when he's off third, but the offense takes a hit with Anthony Rendon moving from second to third and Danny Espinosa off the bench to second. Espinosa is a good defensive player but can't hit much. The Nats start Tanner Roark in Friday's series opener. Roark (9-6, 2.91) has won two straight starts, allowing an earned run over seven in each. He lost to the Reds on May 21 despite allowing just an earned run over six innings. Reds starter Alfredo Simon (12-4, 2.74) lost for the first time since May 27 in his last start, allowing four runs (two earned) over five at the Yankees. He was opposite Roark on May 21 and allowed a run over seven innings in the win.
Key trends: The Nationals have lost six straight Friday games. The Reds have lost eight straight against right-handed starters. The "under" is 8-1 in Washington's past nine road games vs. teams with a winning home record.
Early lean: I don't get this line. An All-Star pitcher as a dog at home? Sure, Roark has been good, but take the Reds.
Pirates at Rockies (+113, 10)
Go ahead and start betting heavy against the Colorado Rockies for a while. They are sinking as it is and now are without All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki with a hip strain. You just knew a DL stint was coming for Tulo because it always does. This might cost him any real shot at the NL MVP Award. He leads the NL in hitting at .340. I'm guessing that Pirates starter Charlie Morton isn't torn up about missing Tulo. Morton (5-9, 3.28) has had quality starts in four of his past five outings just one win to show for it. He faced the Rockies on Saturday in Pittsburgh and allowed two runs over seven innings. Carlos Gonzalez hit a two-run dinger off him. Lefty Brett Anderson (0-3, 4.00) starts for the Rockies. He had his best start of the season opposite Morton on Saturday, allowing just a run and four hits over seven innings in a no-decision. He won't have to worry about Pirates outfielder Starling Marte, who is on the seven-day concussion list.
Key trends: The Pirates are 4-1 in their past five vs. lefties. Colorado is 4-22 in its past 26 against teams with a winning record. The under is 8-1 in Colorado's past nine after an off day.
Early lean: I know what I just said above and for sure always go against Colorado on the road. But the Rockies have to win occasionally, and at home they are still dangerous. Rockies are nice value here as a home dog.
A's at Rangers (+153, 10)
Not that Texas gets a lead too much these days, but Neftali Feliz will replace Soria as the team's closer, and really that's not a downgrade. Remember, Feliz was a lights out closer for a bit before suffering a serious injury that led to Tommy John surgery. He has a very good 2.61 ERA and great 0.77 WHIP in 10.1 innings this season. Feliz had 72 total saves with the Rangers from 2011-12. Nick Tepesch (3-6, 4.87) starts for the Rangers. He pitched a third of an inning on Tuesday in relief in Texas' 14-inning loss at the Yankees, with Tepesch suffering the decision. Tepesch is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in his last three starts. He allowed four runs over five innings in a loss to Oakland in his one start against the A's this year. The Cubs are looking smart for dealing Jason Hammel (8-7, 3.35) when they did because he hasn't been great with Oakland. The A's have lost both his starts and he lasted only two innings in his last one, allowing five runs to Baltimore.
Key trends: The Rangers have lost five straight against righty starter but are 5-0 in Tepesch's past five series openers. The A's have won six straight in Texas. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: I hate to go over 10 when the games aren't in Coors Field, but neither starter is trustworthy at the moment. Over it is at -115.
Tigers at Angels (-129, 8.5)
As for Detroit, GM Dave Dombrowski says that Joe Nathan remains his closer, and I believe him for now. After all, the Tigers gave him big free-agent money this offseason. He does have a 5.89 ERA and five blown saves but generally has been much better since the start of this month. Soria will team with Joba Chamberlain to give Detroit two nasty right-handed set-up men and serve as possible Nathan insurance. It was a smart trade for the Tigers, who didn't appear to give up much (compared to what the Angels did for Huston Street) and might be done dealing now. Lefty Drew Smyly starts Friday's game in Anaheim. Smyly (6-8, 3.80) has won back-to-back starts. Smyly made his first big-league start since 2012 on April 18 and lost to the Angels, allowing four runs and six hits in three innings. Fellow young lefty Tyler Skaggs goes for the Halos. Skaggs (5-5, 4.65) hasn't looked good in his past two but has been bailed out by the offense. He has allowed 11 runs and 15 hits over 11.2 innings over that span. No Tiger has ever faced him.
Key trends: The Angels are 14-3 in their past 17 against lefties. The over is 5-1 in Smyly's past six road starts. The over is 7-1 in Skaggs' past eight at home.
Early lean: L.A. eats up lefties. Take the Angels at +170 on the runline.
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