Five to Follow MLB Betting: Saturday August 2, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 8/1/2014
Many of the guys traded by Thursday's deadline should be making their debuts by Saturday as you have to factor in travel time and physicals and all that. Two of the biggest pitchers to be dealt will be on the mound as Jon Lester makes his first career start in the green and gold of the A's, while Justin Masterson does the same in the red and white of the Cardinals. Here's a look at those two games and three other interesting matchups.
Royals at A's (-210, 7.5)
Oakland is now the -400 favorite in the AL West after acquiring Lester from the Red Sox, and it should be quite a festive atmosphere at O.co Coliseum on Saturday. Maybe even a rare sellout. Incidentally, this game was when the team was going to hand out Yoenis Cespedes T-shirts to the first 10,000 fans. Of course, Cespedes was included in the Lester deal to Boston. The promotional giveaway will go on -- and most of the shirts will be on eBay soon after. Lester (10-7, 2.52) dominated the Royals on July 20, holding them scoreless on four hits over eight innings. The Royals got bad news recently in that Eric Hosmer will miss perhaps six weeks with a fractured right hand. K.C. is toast now, especially after doing nothing at the deadline. Lefty Jason Vargas (8-4, 3.31) will come off the DL (appendix) to start this one. He's a tremendous 4-1 with a 1.68 ERA on the road this year. He hasn't faced Oakland. Jonny Gomes, who also came over in the trade, will usually play against lefties as he hits them well. Not Vargas. Gomes is 1-for-15 career off him with 11 strikeouts. The one hit was a homer.
Key trends: The Royals are 1-4 in their past five against lefties. The "under" has hit in four of those. The under is 6-1 in the past seven meetings in Oakland entering Friday.
Early lean: I think Lester pitches a gem now that he's back in a pennant race, even though he did love Boston. The better value is Oakland at -105 on the runline.
Blue Jays at Astros (+135, 8.5)
Considering that Baltimore only added lefty reliever Andrew Miller and the Yankees just Martin Prado and Stephen Drew at the deadline, I still like Toronto to win the AL East. The Jays, +200 to win the division at Sportsbook.ag, will have the best lineup once everyone is healthy. Pitching, like the Orioles (-130) and Yankees (+320), will be their main concern. Thus, R.A. Dickey (9-10, 3.91) has to pitch more often like he did last time out when he held the Red Sox to just a run and three hits over seven innings, striking out 10. His previous two starts had not been good. Dickey faced Houston on April 10 and allowed five runs over seven innings. He befuddles Astros All-Star Jose Altuve, who is 0-for-10 off Dickey. Houston goes with lefty Brett Oberholtzer (3-7, 4.30). He has turned his season around, going 3-1 with a 3.15 ERA in his past seven starts. He allowed three runs over 5.1 innings on April 8 in Toronto. Jose Bautista has a solo homer in two at-bats off him.
Key trends: Toronto is 2-9 in its past 11 against lefties. The Jays are 1-5 in Dickey's past six road starts against teams with a losing record. Houston is 1-5 in Oberholtzer's past six at home against teams with a winning record. The under is 5-1 in Dickey's past six on the road.
Early lean: Over at +105. You can never trust that Dickey knuckler.
Angels at Rays (+100, 7)
I'm still stunned the Angels didn't make a single move before Thursday's trade deadline. I liked them all season to win the AL West, but now I don't feel that way any longer because Oakland's rotation is so much better. That is unless C.J. Wilson (8-6, 4.33) gets back to pitching like a true No. 2 starter. He has been out since July 9 with an ankle problem. Hopefully for Angels backers that was why he had four straight lousy starts before going on the DL. He has just one win since June 8. By far Wilson's best start of the year was May 17 against the Rays, throwing a complete-game, five-hit shutout. Ben Zobrist has some success off him, hitting .269 with two homers, two doubles and six RBIs in 26 career at-bats. I'm curious to see if the Rays go into a mini-funk after management traded David Price, all but giving up on this year. The new ace is Chris Archer, who starts this one. He pitched in Anaheim on May 16 and blanked the Halos over 5.2 innings. Josh Hamilton is 3-for-7 with a homer, double and three RBIs against Archer.
Key trends: The Rays have won eight straight Game 2s of a series. They are 1-9 in Archer's past 10 following a quality start in his last appearance. The over is 5-0 in Archer's past five Saturday starts.
Early lean: I do think the Rays will go into a bit of a slide, but Archer is a fine pitcher and Wilson is still a question mark. So I like Tampa as a home dog.
Brewers at Cardinals (-120, 7.5)
I believe the Cardinals are now clearly the top threat to the L.A. Dodgers in the National League after St. Louis acquired Masterson and John Lackey this week. Masterson (4-6, 5.51) makes his NL debut in this one. As you can see by the numbers he hadn't been that good this year but was in 2013. Masterson hasn't pitched since July 7, after which he was placed on the DL with a minor knee injury. I wasn't aware you could trade guys on the DL. Masterson's career ERA of 3.14 against NL teams is more than a run lower against AL teams. Only a couple of Brewers have faced him. Lyle Overbay is 6-for-11 off Masterson, all singles. Jimmy Nelson (1-2, 4.30) starts for Milwaukee. He has had back-to-back quality starts. Nelson faced the Cards on July 12 and was bombed for eight runs over 4.1 innings. Kolten Wong hit a two-run homer off him.
Key trends: The Brewers are 1-5 in their past six Game 2s of a series. The under is 7-1 in Milwaukee's past eight road games vs. righty starters. The over is 6-0 in the past six meetings entering Friday.
Early lean: Masterson will be energized by pitching in baseball-mad St. Louis. Take the Cards.
Giants at Mets (-135, 7)
Perhaps the best National League pitcher in the month of July who doesn't have to initials C.K. and pitch for the Dodgers was the Mets' Jacob deGrom (5-5, 2.79). He was 4-1 with a 1.39 ERA in the month and allowed just two total runs over his last four starts. If this 26-year-old is for real, the Mets have some scary good young pitching and might be ready to turn the corner as soon as 2015 when Matt Harvey returns. De Grom has never faced the Giants. He has a 1.83 ERA in six home starts. It's Jake Peavy (1-10, 4.71) for the Giants, making his second start since coming over in a trade from Boston. His teams have lost the past 10 times he has taken the mound. Peavy wasn't awful in his Giants debut, allowing three earned over six innings against the Dodgers. David Wright does little against the guy, going 2-for-16 with seven strikeouts.
Key trends: The under is 7-2-1 in deGrom's past 10 against teams with a winning record. The Giants are 7-2 in their past nine against right-handed starters.
Early lean: Under at +105. Either guy could pitch a shutout with two mediocre offenses.
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