Five to Follow MLB Betting: Saturday July 19, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 7/18/2014
Now that the World Cup is over, the next three Saturdays are pretty empty of sports action other than baseball. Thankfully, NFL teams have begun reporting to camps. MLB graciously has given up four matinee game this Saturday to occupy your day with Rangers at Blue Jays and Dodgers at Cardinals both having live betting available at Bovada. Here's a look at those two matchups and three other interesting ones on the schedule .
Rangers at Blue Jays (-170, 9.5)
It's gotten to the point that it's comical how bad the Texas Rangers are. They are so desperate for a first baseman that they are installing former starting catcher J.P. Arencibia there after the Carlos Pena experiment failed miserably. Arencibia hit just .133 in 20 games earlier this season for Texas before being sent down. The Rangers now have four active catchers because projected starter Geovany Soto has been activated off the DL. He hasn't played yet this season. Soto's batterymate Saturday, if Soto starts, will be Colby Lewis. He is 2-3 with a 7.99 ERA in his last eight starts. That's hugely skewed by his epically bad last start: a club-record 13 runs and career-worst 13 hits allowed in 2.1 innings vs. the Angels. A Jose Bautista home run prop may be in order as he has hit two in 11 at-bats off Lewis. Marcus Stroman (4-2, 4.05) is on the bump for the Jays. They have lost his past three starts, although he hasn't gotten a decision. Ironically, he was bombed by the Angels in his last start as well.
Key trends: The Rangers are 6-1 in Lewis' past seven on the road. Toronto has lost six straight Saturday games. The "under" is 7-0 in the past seven meetings entering Friday.
Early lean: I understand why this total is so high with how bad both starters were last time out. But these are two offenses missing key injured players and the pitchers aren't that bad. Go under at -120.
Reds at Yankees (-116, 8.5)
New York GM Brian Cashman admitted this week that he has to do something trade-wise with the rotation, and he's right. That said, Cashman's first trade of Vidal Nuno for Brandon McCarthy looks pretty good, albeit in a small sample size. McCarthy was among the NL loss leaders with Arizona but allowed just an earned run over 6.2 innings on July 9 at Cleveland in his Yankee debut. New York will take that all day. It was McCarthy's fourth straight start without allowing a homer. McCarthy was rocked for five runs and nine hits over 4.1 innings by the Reds on May 31. All-Star Alfredo Simon, which sounds like a pasta dish, goes for the Reds. Simon (12-3, 2.70) hasn't lost since late May. The 33-year-old hasn't allowed more than two earned in his past four. No way this journeyman can keep this up all season. Mark Teixeira is 6-for-11 with a home run off Simon career.
Key trends: The Reds are 4-0 in Simon's past four on the road. New York is 1-5 in its past six Saturday games.
Early lean: The Yankees have no right being favored here if you simply take the pitchers on face value. This is because they are the Yankees (and at home obviously). Take the Reds.
Dodgers at Cardinals (+110, 7.5)
I'm a big baseball fan but not even I watch it every day, and there are rarely "must-watch" games during the regular season. The Dodgers and Cardinals had a chance to give us one in this weekend's series by pitting NL Cy Young favorites Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright against one another in a game. Alas, Wainwright won't pitch in the series to get a bit of extra rest, while Kershaw goes Sunday night. That's a shame. The total might have been 5. Zack Greinke goes Saturday for L.A. Greinke (11-5, 2.73) faced the Cards on June 28 and allowed just a run and four hits over seven innings, striking out 10. Matt Carpenter is 4-for-10 with a homer off Greinke. Joe Kelly starts for St. Louis. Kelly (1-1, 3.44) returned from a long DL stint on July 11 and allowed six runs in three innings at Milwaukee. Adrian Gonzalez is a career 4-for-7 with a homer and three RBIs against him.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 1-5 in Greinke's past six on the road. St. Louis is 8-2 in Kelly's past 10 at home. The over is 9-2-2 in Kelly's past 13.
Early lean: No trust in Kelly so I'd actually roll the dice on Dodgers at +130 on the runline despite what the first two above trends say.
Royals at Red Sox (-125, 9)
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has said that he isn't conceding the season, although when you see the Red Sox starting five rookies, as they have done, then it sort of tells you the reality. Boston might actually get back outfielder Shane Victorino for the first time in nearly two months on Saturday, although he alone isn't going to reverse the team's fortunes. Victorino has hit .242 in 21 games this year. Victorino has never faced Kansas City's scheduled starter Danny Duffy (5-9, 2.76). As you can see, the lefty has been pitching well but getting no support. In four of his past five starts the Royals have been held to a run or less. Rubby De La Rosa goes for Boston. De La Rosa (2-2, 2.89) returned to the majors on July 9 after a few weeks in Triple-A and allowed three runs in five innings against the White Sox. Only a few Royals have ever faced him. Billy Butler homered in his only at-bat vs. De La Rosa.
Key trends: The Royals are 10-2 in Duffy's past 12 against teams with a losing record. The under is 5-0 in Duffy's past five. The under has hit in four of De La Rosa's past six.
Early lean: This total seems high as well if you just look at the pitchers' ERAs. Neither offense is exactly killing the ball. Under at -125.
Mariners at Angels (-115, 6.5)
Since we didn't get Kershaw-Wainwright, Saturday's matchup of Felix Hernandez against Garrett Richards will have to settle as the best pitching duel of the weekend on paper. The Mariners' Hernandez (11-2, 2.12) is your clear Cy Young favorite with Masahiro Tanaka out. Seattle has won his past four starts and he has made 11 consecutive starts of at least seven innings with two earned runs or fewer. That's the best streak in the AL since 1974. He is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA in two starts against the Halos this year. Mike Trout does well of King Felix with a .386 average, two home runs and 11 RBIs in 44 at-bats. By comparison, Josh Hamilton is hitting just .175 with 21 strikeouts against him. L.A.'s Richards (11-2, 2.55) has frankly been better in some ways than Hernandez of late. Since June 1, Richards' 1.27 ERA is third in baseball and tops in the AL. The Angels have won his past eight outings. He pitched in Seattle on April 9 and allowed just a hit over seven innings.
Key trends: The under is 4-0 in Richards' past four against Seattle and 4-1 in Hernandez's past five vs. L.A. The Mariners are 4-1 in Hernandez's past five against the Halos.
Early lean: You will almost never see Hernandez as a dog so take it when you can even as good as Richards has been. Under for sure at 6.5 as I'm presuming this drops at least a half-run from its opening.
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