Five to Follow MLB Betting: Saturday May 10, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 5/9/2014
Think that Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija is getting fed up with the losing in Chicago? The Cubs front office expressed some concern when Samardzija went a career-high 126 pitches in his last start, and Samardzija essentially said to mind your own business. Manager Rick Renteria is trying to win now. The front office wants to ensure its No. 1 trade chip doesn't get hurt and frankly doesn't care about winning yet. This is life on the North Side of Chicago these sad days. Samardzija looks for his first wins since last summer Saturday in Atlanta. Here's a look at that and four other interesting matchups.
Twins at Tigers (-225, 7.5)
I really never thought that Detroit's Max Scherzer (4-1, 1.72) would get a better offer than the six-year, $144 million deal the Tigers threw out there this spring and Scherzer turned down. As things stand now, he will beat that. He hasn't allowed a run over his past two starts, striking out 16 and giving up just seven hits over 14 innings. I don't expect the Twins to do much to him considering Scherzer had a 3-0 record and 1.77 ERA against them in 2013. Plus, Minnesota's best player, Joe Mauer, likely remains out with back spasms and could be headed to the DL. Minnesota starts Kyle Gibson (3-2, 3.50). He blanked the Tribe over seven innings in his last start. The Tigers have never seen him.
Key trends: The Twins are 5-1 in Gibson's past six against the AL Central. The Tigers are 8-2 in Scherzer's past 10 Saturday starts. Detroit is 8-1 in Scherzer's past nine against the Twins.
Early lean: Predictably, Tigers are by far biggest favorites on the board. No-brainer even at such a short price.
Giants at Dodgers (-154, 7)
If you would have told me that San Francisco would be leading the NL West at this point in the season, I'd think, "OK, ace Matt Cain must be back to his 2012 version." Yet the Giants enter Friday tied for the majors' best record despite the fact their presumed ace is 0-3 with a 4.35 ERA. He comes off a quick stint on the DL after cutting a finger while making a sandwich. That type of sissy injury only happens to baseball players. Cain pitched in L.A. against the Dodgers on April 6 and allowed five runs and three homers in six innings of a loss. Andre Ethier is a career .429 hitter with six RBIs off Cain. The Dodgers start Zack Greinke (5-1, 2.35). He has yet to allow more than two runs this season. He had 18 consecutive regular-season starts of at least five innings while allowing two runs or fewer -- the longest such run in the majors since 1914. But that ended in his last start because he was taken out after three innings against Washington due to a long rain delay. Greinke also pitched April 6 vs. San Francisco and allowed two runs over six innings.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 15-3 in Greinke's past 15 home starts. The "under" is 6-1 in his past seven Saturday starts.
Early lean: A rusty Cain vs. a dominant Greinke? Take L.A. on the runline as well.
Cubs at Braves (-136, 7)
The reason Renteria let Samardzija pitch the ninth inning with such a high pitch count -- and hit in the eighth inning of a 1-1 game -- was because Samardzija hasn't won in his past 13 starts, and Renteria thought he had a good chance (Cubs were home). Samardzija allowed the White Sox just three hits over nine innings, but the Pale Hose would win in 12 innings. "This is an on-field issue, for uniform personnel," Samardzija said this week when the front office made its opinion known publicly. "That's all there is to it." He's old school to the bone. Samardzija (0-3) is No. 2 in the NL with a 1.62 ERA. So theoretically he could win the ERA title with zero wins. That'd be awesome. Alas, he won't be a Cub long enough. Samardzija was 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA in one start against Atlanta in 2013. Justin Upton is 2-for-9 with three RBIs and four strikeouts off him. The Braves start Ervin Santana (3-0, 2.41). He was skipped his last turn with a bruised thumb and hasn't been quite as good in his last two starts after dominating his first three.
Key trends: The Cubs are 1-10 in Samardzija's past 11 starts. The Braves are 0-7 in their past seven against right-handed starters. The under is 9-2 in Samardzija's past 11. The under is 7-1 in Atlanta's past eight at home.
Early lean: I want to take the Cubs ... but for that offense. Big on the under. Surprised it's not 6.5. There are no opening totals Saturday under 7.
Rockies at Reds (-119, 7.5)
I write these five to follow stories the minute the next-day odds come out to give you a heads up of why the lines might be set where they are and maybe jump early when there's value to be had before the market or books make corrections. Thus, obviously I don't know what happens in the games the day I actually write the stories. Still, I have to mention Colorado's Nolan Arenado, who has quickly become one of the majors' best third basemen. He took a 28-game hitting streak into Friday night's game in Cincinnati and obviously could hit 30 on Saturday. That's when you really have to start paying attention. The last player with 30 was the Dodgers' Andre Ethier in 2011. Arenado is 0-for-2 with an RBI in his career off Saturday's Reds starter Alfredo Simon (4-1). Colorado starts unlikely ace Jordan Lyles (4-0, 2.62). He hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his past four starts. He was rocked for nine runs in 3.1 innings last year in his lone start vs. the Reds while with Houston. Joey Votto is 6-for-9 with a home run off Lyles.
Key trends: Colorado is 7-1 in its past eight Game 2s of a series. The Reds have dropped four straight Game 2s. The under is 6-0 in Simon's past six starts.
Early lean: I'm expecting Johnny Cueto to quiet Colorado on Friday -- hopefully not Arenado -- but then the Rockies to beat up on Simon in this one. They are the choice.
Phillies at Mets (-130, 7)
Philadelphia's Kyle Kendrick is like Samardzija in that he hasn't won in his past 13 starts (since Aug. 6, 2013), but Kendrick has lost eight of those because he has a 4.78 ERA in that span. Kendrick (0-3, 3.58) has pitched pretty well this year. Maybe that streak ends Saturday as he was 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA in four starts against New York last year. David Wright is a career .317 hitter off him with two home runs. The Mets start Dillon Gee (3-1, 2.51). He is rolling, having allowed only two earned runs combined over his past four starts, totaling 27 innings. Gee was 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA last year against the Phillies. Ryan Howard destroys the guy, going 7-for-15 with six home runs and 14 RBIs. Wow!
Key trends: The Phillies are 1-7 in Kendrick's past eight road starts. The Mets are 4-1 in Gee's past five at home against teams with a losing record. The "over" is 7-1 in Gee's past eight against the Mets.
Early lean: I'm taking a Howard home run prop and Kendrick for the win.
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