Five to Follow MLB Betting: Saturday July 12, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 7/11/2014
I can't remember a day like Thursday in baseball in a long time. The Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka), Blue Jays (Adam Lind), Cardinals (Yadier Molina) and Reds (Brandon Phillips) all got terrible news on guys they can't afford to lose for an extended period. The beneficiaries of those injuries are clearly the Orioles in the AL East and Brewers/Pirates in the NL Central. If I'm one of those teams, I'm making a trade now because the division is there for the taking. Here's a look at five interesting matchups on Saturday's schedule.
Cardinals at Brewers (+125, 7.5)
I would call Molina one of the five most irreplaceable players in baseball and maybe Top 3. He has a torn ligament in his right thumb and was set to have surgery Friday. Molina, who was set to start the All-Star Game for the NL, will miss 8-12 weeks, which could mean the regular season. Molina isn't just a good hitter (.287, seven HRs, 30 RBIs) but also by far the best defensive catcher in baseball. Huge loss. Look for that St. Louis staff ERA to go up. Maybe not Saturday, however, with ace Adam Wainwright on the mound. Wainwright (11-4, 1.79) is having a career season yet doesn't even lead the NL in ERA (hello Clayton Kershaw). He hasn't allowed a run in his past two starts. Somehow Wainwright hasn't faced Milwaukee yet this year. Aramis Ramirez has figured him out career, going 19-for-47 with two home runs and six RBIs. The Brewers' top prospect, Jimmy Nelson, gets the call. He replaces Marco Estrada, who led the majors with 27 home runs allowed. Nelson did pitch once previously in the majors, blanking Miami over 5.2 innings on May 25.
Key trends: The Cardinals are 5-1 in Wainwright's past six road starts. The Brewers have won five straight Saturday games. The "under" is 4-1 in Wainwright's past five in Milwaukee.
Early lean: Silly to bet against Wainwright right now.
Blue Jays at Rays (-165, 7)
The slumping Jays could ill afford to lose another bat with both Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie already on the disabled list, but Lind joined them Thursday. The lefty first baseman/DH is hitting .320 with 27 RBIs. He's out 6-8 weeks with a fracture in his right foot. Tampa Bay's David Price could dominate that decimated lineup on Saturday. Price (8-7, 3.42) has won three straight starts. He has faced the Jays once in 2014, allowing two runs and striking out six in 7.1 innings back on Opening Day. Price is an astounding 14-2 all-time vs. Toronto. Jose Bautista likes facing Price as he's a career .341 hitter with five home runs and 11 RBIs off him. Drew Hutchison starts for Toronto. Hutchison (6-7, 3.86) has lost three of his past four. He is 2-0 with a 4.35 ERA in two starts this year against Tampa.
Key trends: The Jays are 1-8 in their past nine against lefties. The under is 6-1 in Hutchison's past seven. Tampa is 8-2 in Price's past 10 at home vs. Toronto.
Early lean: Price could easily pitch a complete-game shutout here. Take Tampa at +135 on the runline.
Angels at Rangers (+150, 10)
The Angels weren't immune to the injury epidemic as they had to put lefty pitcher C.J. Wilson on the 15-day DL with a right ankle sprain. At least No .1 pitcher Jered Weaver (9-6, 3.50) avoided it. He left Monday's start against Toronto after just two innings because of lower-back tightness but is set to start this game against Texas. The Halos have won Weaver's past four starts. He faced Texas on June 21 and allowed a run over eight innings in a win. Elvis Andrus is a career .333 hitter off Weaver with two homers and five RBIs. Texas starts a guy I had honestly never heard of until recently, which is very rare. It's Miles Mikolas (0-1, 12.46). This could get ugly. He was bombed for nine runs and 12 hits in 3.1 innings last time out against Houston. The Rangers rotation is pretty much in shambles outside of Yu Darvish.
Key trends: The Angels are 10-0 in Weaver's past 10 following an outing of four innings or less. The Rangers are 0-9 in their past nine Game 3s of a series.
Early lean: I get why this is 10 because of the Rangers' starter, but Weaver is pretty good and can keep the Rangers at bay. So can L.A. score 8-9 by itself? I say no. Go under at -115.
Pirates at Reds (-115, 7.5)
Cincinnati lost Phillips for 6-8 weeks after he had surgery to repair a torn left thumb ligament suffered while making a diving defensive stop. It's Phillips' first DL trip since 2008. Phillips is hitting .272 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs and joins Joey Votto on the DL. So that's a weak lineup that Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton will face. Morton (5-9, 3.10) hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his past three starts, but the Pirates have lost two of them because they don't score for him. Morton allowed four runs over six innings in his lone start against Cincinnati this year. Jay Bruce hits him well, going 8-for-24 with three doubles and two home runs. Mike Leake (7-7, 3.42) goes for Cincinnati. He hasn't allowed more than three earned in his past four. Leake is 1-0 with a 4.61 ERA in two starts this year against the Pirates.
Key trends: Pittsburgh is 2-7 in Morton's past nine road starts. The Reds are 2-5 in Leake's past seven at home. They are 5-0 in his past five at home against Pittsburgh.
Early lean: No opinion on the side, but two good pitchers and a weakened Reds lineup: go under at -130.
Yankees at Orioles (-135, 9)
The Yanks will lose Tanaka for at least six weeks as they are hoping rehab will fix his partially-torn UCL. That seems like a long shot and that it's just putting off Tommy John surgery. In addition, New York won't have Carlos Beltran the rest of the weekend as he's on the seven-day concussion disabled list. So New York stats someone named Shane Greene on Saturday. He was good in his first start July 7, allowing two runs and four hits over six innings in a win over Cleveland. Greene has never faced an Oriole. It's Ubaldo Jimenez (3-8, 4.52) for Baltimore. He originally was set to start Friday but pushed back a day. I mentioned that might happen yesterday, and it didn't change the opening line with Miguel Gonzalez in his spot. Jimenez is 0-1 with a 4.35 ERA in two starts against the Yankees this year. Jacoby Ellsbury is 5-for-9 career off Jimenez with two RBIs.
Key trends: New York has lost five straight Saturday games. The Orioles are 2-7 in Jimenez's past nine at home.
Early lean: I liked Baltimore with Jimenez on Friday, and I like the O's even better now against Greene and with the Yanks not having Beltran.
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