Five to Follow MLB Betting: Friday May 23, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 5/22/2014
May people believe that run differential is the best indicator of how good a team is. The A's do have the best record in baseball and by far the top run differential. My argument against would be this: Entering Thursday; the Cubs are at even on run differential but have the worst record in the National League. The Yankees are minus-11 and tied for the AL East lead. Huh. Here's a look at five interesting matchups on Friday's schedule.
Dodgers at Phillies (+160, 7)
Should the Dodgers be worried about Clayton Kershaw and that perhaps he came off the disabled list too soon? Kershaw (2-1, 4.43) allowed three runs over seven innings in his first start off, not too bad but not his dominant self. Then last time out at Arizona, he was blasted for seven runs in just 1.2 innings. It was the second-shortest outing of his career. Maybe it's nothing, but this start now looks fairly important. Phils catcher Carlos Ruiz hits Kershaw well, going 5-for-13 with three walks and two RBIs. Philadelphia starts Roberto Hernandez (2-1, 3.98). His last two outings were in relief, but his previous two starts before that were very good as he allowed just a run over 12.1 innings. Juan Uribe hits him hard but was officially put on the 15-day DL on Wednesday.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 6-1 in their past seven in Philadelphia. The Phillies are 3-9 in their past 12 home games against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: The Phils opened as the biggest dogs on the board. I'd roll the dice at that fine price because I'm not 100 percent sure Kershaw is right.
A's at Blue Jays (-106, 9)
I touched on Toronto's red-hot Edwin Encarnacion on Thursday, but I'm obligated to again here as Encarnacion had his second straight two-homer game Wednesday night and his fourth multi-homer game this month. He has 11 in May but will have to continue to rake to break the May record of 17 by Barry Bonds in 2001. The most recent player to hit at least 13 homers in May was Mark Teixeira in 2009. Encarnacion is 2-for-5 with no homers in his career off Scott Kazmir, Friday's A's starter. Kazmir (5-1, 2.39) lasted just 1.1 innings last time out in Cleveland as he was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Toronto starts R.A. Dickey (4-4, 4.20). He has allowed at least three runs in each of his past four starts, with the Jays going 2-2. Dickey had a 2.08 ERA in two starts last year against Oakland.
Key trends: Toronto is 6-1 in Dickey's past seven series-opening starts. The "under" is 7-0 in Oakland's past seven against the AL East. The A's have won six of their past eight in Toronto.
Early lean: The Jays are playing really well right now, and Dickey has been good at home. They are the choice.
Cardinals at Reds (-105, 7.5)
Cincinnati gets one of its top hitters back in the lineup Friday in outfielder Jay Bruce. He was activated off the 15-day disabled list when Joey Votto was put on it Wednesday. Bruce had arthroscopic surgery May 5 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He has been a monster disappointment, hitting .216 with three home runs. Bruce is 0-for-6 with two strikeouts in his career off Cardinals starter Shelby Miller (6-2, 2.79). The Cards have won his past five starts. Miller faced the Reds on April 9 and allowed three runs in six innings in a loss. He personally hasn't lost since. The Reds start Homer Bailey (3-3, 5.44). He is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in two starts this year against St. Louis.
Key trends: The Cardinals are 10-1 in Miller's past 11 starts against teams with a losing record. The Reds are 1-6 in Bailey's past seven series-opening starts. Cincinnati is 2-6 in Bailey's past eight against St. Louis.
Early lean: St. Louis clearly has figured Bailey out. Take the Cards.
Astros at Mariners (-122, 7.5)
The Astros don't have many hitters who scare anyone, but one of them is highly-touted rookie George Springer. After a slow start to his big-league career, Springer had come on of late. He is hitting .286 with four home runs and 11 RBIs this month but could be headed to the disabled list after suffering a right hip flexor strain in Wednesday night's game. So I'm putting the Astros on no-hit alert against Seattle's Felix Hernandez (5-1, 2.94). He's 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts against Houston this year but dominated the Astros in 2013. Houston starts Brad Peacock (1-4, 5.20). He allowed four runs in six innings May 2 against the Mariners. Kyle Seager is a .357 hitter off him with a homer.
Key trends: Houston is 5-1 in Peacock's past six against teams with a losing record. Seattle is 2-11 in Hernandez's past 13 Friday starts. The "over" is 4-0 in Hernandez's past four against Houston.
Early lean: Surprised the M's aren't much bigger favorites with King Felix on the mound. Take them and the under.
Cubs at Padres (-141, 7)
Might the Cubs actually get something salvageable out of Edwin Jackson? He was terrible last year after signing a four-year, $52 million deal and started this season equally bad. However, in his past three starts, he has a 1.80 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 20 innings. Jackson was 0-1 with a 10.97 ERA in two starts last year against San Diego. The Padres start lefty Robbie Erlin (3-4, 4.53). San Diego has won his past two starts after losing his previous five. He has been much better at home this season with a 2.92 ERA in 24.2 innings.
Key trends: The Cubs are 1-5 in Jackson's past six road starts. The under hasn't hit in any of Jackson's past five on the road. The under has hit in five of Erlin's past seven at home.
Early lean: Two lousy offenses at Petco Park? Go under all series.
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