Five to Follow MLB Betting: Saturday May 24, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 5/23/2014
Go ahead and scratch the Texas Rangers off those AL West futures odds because not only are they not winning the division, but I'll be surprised if they finish over .500. Thursday was just an awful day for the franchise. First, Prince Fielder was ruled out the rest of the season due to necessary surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. My first thought on this: Texas signs Kendrys Morales after June 5 when draft pick compensation falls off. Also, Rangers second baseman Jurickson Profar, who hasn't played yet this season, had a major setback in his rehab and now could miss the season. So long Rangers. They are +700 to win the AL West at Sportsbook.ag. Might as well be +7000. Here's a look at their game in Detroit on Saturday and four other interesting matchups.
Rangers at Tigers (-169, 9)
Because of so many injuries in the rotation, Nick Martinez is starting when he shouldn't be, and he goes in Game 3 of the series on Saturday. Martinez (0-1, 2.28) pitched well in his return to the rotation on May 18, holding the Blue Jays to a run on four hits over five innings. His previous five appearances before Sunday came in relief. He has never faced Detroit. The Tigers start Rick Porcello (7-1, 2.91). He was scheduled to go Thursday but pushed back because of a tight oblique. The Tigers have won has past six starts, and four of those have been by at least three runs. Mitch Moreland is 3-for-8 career with two RBIs off him. I bring him up because he will be the full-time first baseman for now with Fiedler out. Alex Rios has three career homers off Porcello.
Key trends: The Tigers are 5-0 in Porcello's past five Saturday starts. The "over" has hit in all five.
Early lean: Detroit's the biggest favorite on the board, but still lean Tigers.
Dodgers at Phillies (+123, 8.5)
Philadelphia probably wasn't going to contend for the NL East or a wild-card spot regardless, but now with ace Cliff Lee on the 15-day disabled list with a mild left elbow strain, well, it soon will be selling season for the Phils. Those elbow strains can easily lead to Tommy John surgery, too. That would be devastating to the Phillies, who were hoping to trade Lee (4-4, 3.18) by the July 31 deadline if they weren't in contention. Taking Lee's spot in the rotation on Saturday is David Buchanan in his big-league debut. He was 5-1 with a 3.98 ERA at Triple-A. L.A. starts Dan Haren (5-2, 3.18). He faced the Phillies on April 24 and allowed one earned run in six innings. Marlon Byrd kills him, going 12-for-24 with two home runs.
Key trends: The Phillies have won four straight Saturday games. The over is 8-0 in L.A.'s past eight on Saturday.
Early lean: Go "under" here. Haren has been good, and the Dodgers don't know Buchanan.
Nationals at Pirates (-105, 6.5)
Vastly disappointing Pittsburgh made two moves Thursday in hopes of turning its season around. They designated struggling pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, the team's second-highest-paid player, for assignment. No loss there as he was 0-2 with a 6.57 ERA. The Pirates also activated catcher Russell Martin, a big part of their success a year ago. They start Gerrit Cole (4-3, 3.84) on Saturday. He's been just OK the past four starts, allowing at least three runs in all of them. Pittsburgh has won three of them. The Nats start Stephen Strasburg (3-3, 3.38) in a fine matchup of young pitchers. Strasburg has had six straight quality starts, but Washington has lost his past two.
Key trends: Washington is 2-5 in Strasburg's past seven road starts against teams with a losing record. Pittsburgh is 5-1 in Cole's past six at home.
Early lean: This is the lowest total on the board. At this point, you have to say Strasburg is a bit overrated. Take Cole at home.
Brewers at Marlins (+101, 7.5)
Don't expect to see Milwaukee's Ryan Braun in this game or perhaps for a while. He left Thursday's game with tightness in his right side. That's the same area that caused him to go in the 15-DL in late April (strained oblique). Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez remains on the DL himself. Miami's Jacob Turner (0-2, 6.59) will benefit from that weak lineup. However, he hast lost his past two starts, allowing nine runs over 11.1 innings. The Brew Crew start Wily Peralta (4-3, 2.18). The Brewers have lost his past three starts even though he hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of them. Giancarlo Stanton hasn't figured him out yet, going 0-for-7 with two strikeouts.
Key trends: The Brewers are 2-8 in Peralta's past 10 road starts against teams with a winning record. The Marlins are 0-7 in Turner's past seven against teams with a winning record. The under is 7-1 in Peralta's past eight overall.
Early lean: Miami is terrific at home. Turner finally beats a good team.
Indians at Orioles (-125, 8.5)
Baltimore could be without arguably its two best players in this game. Manny Machado left Thursday's game with groin stiffness. It could be nothing, but you know the team will be cautious with its franchise player. He's off to a slow start after starting the season late off knee surgery, batting .229 with a homer. Chris Davis had started slow too but was heating up -- he had a three-home run game Tuesday. He's going to miss Sunday's game for sure as his wife is scheduled to induce labor that day, and he will go on paternity leave. He'd also miss Monday. However, if his wife happens to go into labor on her own Friday or Saturday, Davis will also leave. The potential beneficiary of that would be Cleveland's Corey Kluber (4-3, 3.43). The Tribe have won his past three starts. He has struck out at least eight in all three. Baltimore starts Ubaldo Jimenez (2-5, 4.50). Jimenez had been terrific in his past three starts but was hit for five runs in five innings last time out against Kansas City. Of course he was the Tribe's best pitcher last season, at least after the all-star break.
Key trends: Cleveland is 2-7 in Kluber's past nine against the AL East. The Orioles are 0-4 in Jimenez's past four at home. The over is 6-1 in Kluber's past seven against the AL East.
I lean Baltimore to start because Jimenez will be jacked up to face his former team after it didn't try to re-sign him. However, if both Machado and Davis
are out, then I'd switch over to the Tribe.
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