Five to Follow MLB Betting: Saturday July 5, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 7/4/2014
If you are into baseball's All-Star Game, then you will want to tune into ESPN on Sunday night at 7 p.m. ET for the All-Star Selection Show. The voting ended Thursday, but MLB/ESPN obviously want to keep a bit of suspense in a ratings grab. I'm not big on the All-Star Game, but certainly World Series contenders care a little in case they need a home Game 7 in the Fall Classic. Anyway, just wanted to throw that out there. Here's a look at five interesting matchups on Saturday.
Yankees at Twins (-105, 9)
It's been a rotten week for the Yankees, and it didn't involve a player on the major-league roster: CC Sabathia had a setback with his knee injury during rehab and now will see Dr. James Andrews. That never ends well. Don't expect to see Sabathia again this season, which means the Yanks MUST trade for at least one pitcher, maybe two. Both Brian McCann and Derek Jeter didn't start Friday, but it was just a maintenance day off with a matinee start. They should play Saturday. David Phelps (3-4, 4.26) takes the mound for the Bombers. The Yankees have lost his past two starts, and he has a 5.25 road ERA this season. Vidal Pino goes for the Twins. Pino (0-2, 6.32) had a great big-league debut but is now showing why it took him until age 30 to get called up as he has been roughed up his past two starts. No Yankee has faced him.
Key trends: New York is 1-6 in Phelps' past seven road starts. The "under" is 6-1 in the Twins' past even Saturday games.
Early lean: The Yankees almost surely will be favorites by game time, so jump on them now at "pick'em" despite Phelps' road troubles.
Mariners at White Sox (+134, 7.5)
It's apparently time to take Seattle as a serious wild-card contender and maybe even in the AL West. And the M's got a needed bat off the disabled list on Friday in Corey Hart. He had been out since May 18. Hart won't hit for much of an average, but he has some power. It's ace Felix Hernandez on the mound for Seattle, and he could be in line to start the All-Star Game because Masahiro Tanaka likely can't. Hernandez (10-2, 2.10) is 6-1 with a 1.30 ERA in his past 10 starts but for some reason doesn't like Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field, going 1-5 with a 4.88 ERA career there. Adam Dunn is 3-for-10 off King Felix with two solo homers. Lefty Jose Quintana starts for the Sox. Quintana (5-7, 3.44) had a rough patch there for a while but has allowed just one run over 14 innings in his past two starts, both wins. He's only 1-2 with a 4.25 ERA at home, however.
Key trends: Seattle is 4-1 in Hernandez's past five road starts. The Sox are 0-4 in Quintana's past four against teams with a winning record. The under is 6-0 in Seattle's past six against lefties. The under is 5-0-2 in Quintana's past seven Saturday starts.
Early lean: Under 7.5 at -125. This could drop to 7.
Cubs at Nationals (-152, 7)
I'm frankly getting tired about writing about the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija because I hate typing his name -- thank you, spell check. However, I believe that Chicago has blown it by not trading Samardzija by now. He was one of the best pitchers in the majors the first two months but just 1-3 with a 5.45 ERA in June. That's the risk you run -- and injury -- when holding on to a guy too long. Samardzija faced the Nats last week at Wrigley and was knocked around for six runs and seven hits in five innings. Adam LaRoche is 6-for-18 with three homers off him. The Nats start lefty Gio Gonzalez (5-4, 3.93). He hasn't allowed a run in his past two starts, throwing seven innings of two-hit ball opposite Samardzija last time out. Anthony Rizzo, a potential Cubs All-Star, is 0-for-8 off the tough lefty.
Key trends: The Cubs are 1-5 in Samardzija's past six road starts. Washington is 1-5 in Gonzalez's past six Saturday starts. The under is 5-1 in Samardzija's past six Saturday's starts and 4-1 in Gonzalez's past four.
Early lean: Both pitchers are capable of dominating, so go under at -105. Surprised it's a slight dog.
Phillies at Pirates (-157, 8)
The starting second baseman for the National League in the All-Star Game is going to be Philadelphia's Chase Utley, and he was very good the first two months of the season. Of late? Not so much. Utley hit just .240 in June and is at .143 in July so far. There's talk he could be traded, although he has to approve any deal. He's from California, and the Giants might be a good fit. Utley is 1-for-5 career with two strikeouts against Pirates starter Edinson Volquez (6-6, 4.07). He has won two straight starts, allowing a run over 14 innings. David Buchanan starts for the Phillies. Buchanan (4-4, 4.86) had a three-start winning streak snapped last time out, allowing three runs over five innings to Atlanta. He has a road ERA of 5.49 this season. Buchanan has never faced the Pirates
Key trends: The Phillies are 1-10 in their past 11 against right-handers. Pittsburgh is 1-5 in Volquez's past six Game 2 starts.
Early lean: Philadelphia is decent underdog value considering the Pirates haven't seen Buchanan and he had been pitching decently.
Diamondbacks at Braves (-150, 8)
The hottest team in baseball right now is Atlanta, which carried a seven-game winning streak into Friday's opener against the Snakes. Where would the Braves be without first baseman Freddie Freeman? For what constitutes an ironman streak these days, Freeman is one of just three players who has started every single game his team has played. Freeman leads the majors in innings played. He has never faced Arizona's starter Saturday, Mike Bolsinger (1-4, 4.53). No Brave has. In three starts since being recalled from the minors, he has a 2.70 ERA, although Arizona has lost all three. Aaron Harang gets the nod for Atlanta. Harang (7-6, 3.69) has had back-to-back quality starts and won them both. He lost in Arizona on June 8, allowing three runs and four hits over six innings. Paul Goldschmidt likes him, going 5-for-11 with two home runs, four RBIs and six walks.
Key trends: Arizona is 0-5 in Bolsinger's past five starts. The over is 4-1 in his past five against teams with a winning record. The over is 4-1 in Harang's past five at home.
Early lean: Go over at -110 and a Goldschmidt homer prop.
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