Five to Follow MLB Betting: Saturday July 26, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 7/25/2014
The 2014 San Diego Padres are one of the least interesting teams in baseball this decade. They are great to bet against and on the "under" because the Padres have what could be a historically bad offense and already have traded two of their best players in third baseman Chase Headley and closer Huston Street. That said, it's worth watching the Padres, and maybe even backing them occasionally, when Cuban Odrisamer Despaigne is on the mound. Here's a look at his matchup on Saturday and four other games.
Padres at Braves (-181, 6.5)
I had never heard of Despaigne (2-1, 1.31) before he was called up in late June. The 27-year-old has drawn comparisons to El Duque Hernandez. Despaigne defected in June 2013 at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris while the Cuban team was en route to a tournament in the Netherlands. He received a $1 million bonus to sign with the Padres on May 2. The Padres have never had a no-hitter in franchise history -- the only active team without one (by comparison, Tim Lincecum has two against them in the past two years) -- but Despaigne came within four outs of one in his last start against the Mets. He is holding opponents to a .177 average and has yet to allow more than two earned runs in his five starts. Is there some talent in Cuba or what? Atlanta starts a pretty good Colombian pitcher by the name of Julio Teheran (9-6, 2.64). He struck out a season-high 11 and allowed just a run over seven innings last time out vs. the Marlins but took a no-decision.
Key trends: The Braves are 5-2 in Teheran's past seven at home vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 5-1 in his past six at home against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: I would take San Diego at -135 on the runline and under at -110.
Orioles at Mariners (-114, 8)
I really don't get the Seattle Mariners. They had all offseason to re-sign Kendrys Morales. OK, maybe he wanted too much. But then they had the first three months of the season to still do it and chose not to despite a glaring need for a bat. The guy led the Mariners in batting average (.277), hits (167), doubles (34) and RBIs (80) last season while also hitting 23 homers. So what does Seattle do now? Gives up a potential asset in minor-league pitcher Stephen Pryor to acquire Morales from the Twins. Seattle certainly leads the league in first base/DH types. Morales looked pretty lousy in his month-plus with the Twins so I doubt he makes a huge dent for the M's. Morales is 2-for-5 career off Saturday's Orioles starter Bud Norris (8-6, 3.78). He held the Angels to an earned run over 6.2 innings in his last start. Corey Hart, another one of those Seattle 1B/DH guys, has two homers and six RBIs career off Norris in 18 at-bats. Chris Young (8-6, 3.22) goes for the Mariners. Young is 5-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 10 starts at Safeco Field this year. Few Orioles have ever faced him.
Key trends: The Orioles are 5-2 in Norris' past seven on the road. The Mariners have lost five straight Game 3s of a series. The under is 9-0-1 in Young's past 10 at home.
Early lean: Why aren't the Mariners more heavily favored with how good Young has been at home? I think they will be at least -120 by game time. Take Seattle and the under at +100.
Diamondbacks at Phillies (-152, 7.5)
If you are an ESPN Insider, check out Buster Olney's latest blog on how the Phillies have so many untradeable contracts, more than any other team. Right behind Ryan Howard on that list is Cliff Lee, who starts Saturday. The Phillies absolutely want to dump Lee, but Olney makes a good point that a trade might not happen until August because Lee will clear waivers. He is still owed $25 million for next season and then around the same amount in 2016 or a $12.5 million buyout. Who gives $12.5 million buyouts?? Lee (4-5, 3.67) made his first start in two months on Monday and was shelled, allowing six runs and 12 hits over 5.2 innings. He will still be a Phillie after the July 31 deadline. Some team might take a shot in August (Yankees) if he improves. Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill is 9-for-26 with two doubles and three RBIs career off Lee. Snakes starter Josh Collmenter (8-5, 3.64) has had back-to-back starts of allowing just an earned run over seven innings. His best start of the year was when he blanked the Phillies over six innings on April 25.
Key trends: Arizona is 6-1 in Collmenter's past seven vs. teams with a losing record. Philadelphia is 1-6 in Lee's past seven at home. The under is 5-0 in Collmenter's past five.
Early lean: Lee might not be right yet and Collmenter has been good of late. The Snakes are good value here.
Indians at Royals (-127, 8.5)
Two injuries to keep an eye on here. Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (.247, 9 HRs, 39 RBIs) is aiming to play. He hasn't started since Monday due to back spasms. Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (.271, 6 HRs, 45 RBIs) might play as he has been dealing with a bruised right hand that is hampering his swing. He did enter Thursday's game late as a defensive replacement. Zach McAllister (3-5, 5.28) starts for the Tribe. He was sent down to the minors for a while but has been better since returning, allowing four runs over 12.1 innings in two starts. He beat the Royals on April 21, allowing two earned over six. Alex Gordon is a career .333 hitter off him with two doubles and homer in 12 at-bats. Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie (5-9, 4.56) looks to end a three-start losing streak. He has allowed 17 runs over 14 innings in that stretch. The first of those was July 5 in Cleveland when he was rocked for 11 hits and six runs in four innings. Jason Kipnis really kills the guy, going 10-for-17 with two homers and seven RBIs. Nick Swisher (.370, 2 HRs, 11 RBIs) does too.
Key trends: The Royals have lost five straight on Saturday as well as five straight Guthrie starts on Saturday. The under is 6-1 in K.C.'s past seven vs. right-handers.
Early lean: Over at -110.
Red Sox at Rays (-118, 7.5)
The injury to watch here is to Boston DH David Ortiz. He left Thursday's game in the ninth inning after experience a spasm in the middle of his back after taking a check swing. It didn't look good, but Ortiz didn't seem overly concerned. Still, a long flight from Toronto to the Tampa area wouldn't have helped things. Big Papi has proven pretty durable despite his age. Ortiz will want to be in there against Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson as Ortiz is 9-for-24 with three homers and four RBIs career against him. Hellickson (0-0, 2.08) was activated off the DL right before the All-Star Break and pitched 4.1 innings vs. the Royals, allowing a run. He was then sent back down to get more seasoning with the break and the Rays not needing him. Now he's back and should be in the rotation to stay. After a rough stretch, Boston's John Lackey (11-6, 3.66) has pitched back-to-back quality starts, winning both. He is 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in two starts vs. Tampa Bay this year. Both Matt Joyce and Evan Longoria are career .333 hitters off him with two homers and six RBIs.
Key trends: Boston is 1-7 in Lackey's past eight road starts vs. teams with a losing record. The Rays have won seven straight vs. right-handers. The over is 4-1 in Lackey's past five against Tampa Bay.
Early lean: I lean Rays regardless, but if Ortiz sits add them on the runline (currently at +180).
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