Five to Follow MLB Betting: Saturday May 31, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 5/30/2014
I don't write these Five to Follow stories for games on Monday because everyone needs at least one day off, and Sunday is mine. That said, I must point out one game that night in this space. It might be the most intriguing matchup of the season. The White Sox visit the Dodgers, and the pitching matchup is expected to be Chris Sale against Clayton Kershaw, arguably the two best pitchers in baseball and certainly the best two lefties. Sale has actually been better this year. On top of that, Jose Abreu is likely to come off the DL and play Monday. So it's the first time we have Abreu and fellow Cuban superstar Yasiel Puig against one another. That's great stuff. But there are five interesting games Saturday, too, and here's a look.
Royals at Blue Jays (TBA)
The story of May has been Toronto slugger Edwin Encarnacion, and he hit two more home runs on Thursday night to give him 16 this month, tying Mickey Mantle's American League record for May. Encarnacion is the third player in MLB history to have five multi-homer games in any month. The record for May is 17 by Barry Bonds in 2001. The most home runs hit in a single month by an AL player is 18 by Rudy York in 1937. The overall record is 20 by Sammy Sosa in June 1998. I won't usually include a game that doesn't have a line, but with Encarnacion's chase for history I felt I needed to. The reason is Kansas City doesn't yet know who will start because hard-throwing rookie Yordano Ventura is sidelined. It will probably be one of those bullpen-by-committee deals or else the team will have to call someone up. Encarnacion has homers off two K.C. relievers: Louis Coleman and Kelvin Herrera. Toronto starts Drew Hutchison (4-3, 3.88). He allowed four runs over seven innings against the Royals on April 30.
Key trends: The Blue Jays have won eight of their past 10 Game 3s of a series. The "under" is 4-1 in Kansas City's past five Game 3s. The "over" is 4-0 in Hutchison's past four at home.
Early lean: The Jays certainly will be favorites, and they way they are hitting I expect they rout whomever fill-in the Royals start.
Twins at Yankees (-250, 8)
I'm tiring of writing about New York's Masahiro Tanaka, but it's big news whenever he pitches. His only loss has come when he saw a team a second time (the Cubs), and that won't be the case on Saturday against Minnesota. Tanaka (7-1, 2.29) bounced back from that defeat to Chicago by allowing a run over 6.2 innings in a win over the White Sox. This will be his first home start in nearly a month, and he has a 2.54 ERA at Yankee Stadium. Kevin Correia (2-6, 6.34) starts for the Twins. They have lost three of his past four starts, and he has allowed 16 runs over those four. Kelly Johnson hits him hard, going 9-for-28 with five home runs and 10 RBIs.
Key trends: Minnesota is 1-6 in Correia's past seven against teams with a losing record. New York is 4-1 in its past five Saturday games. The over is 5-0 in Correia's past five road starts.
Early lean: Yanks are biggest favorites by a mile, but you still have to take them. Probably at -125 on the runline as well.
Mets at Phillies (-130, 8)
I want to touch on this game not because of the pitching ability of New York starter Jacob deGrom (0-2, 1.83), which has been quite good thus far, but his hitting ability. Mets pitchers entered Friday 8-for-92, a robust .087 average. DeGrom is 4-for-5 with one of the three runs scored by Mets pitchers. He threw 6.2 shutout innings last time out against the Pirates, but the Mets lost. DeGrom has never faced the Phillies. They start Kyle Kendrick (1-5, 4.04). He got his first win last time out, blanking the Rockies over 6.2 innings. He faced the Mets on May 10 and allowed four runs in 5.1 innings at Citi Field. David Wright is a career .341 hitter with three home runs off Kendrick.
Key trends: The Phillies have won five straight Saturday games. They are 1-6 in Kendrick's past seven in Game 3 of a series. The "under" has hit in six of Kendrick's past eight against teams with a losing record. The Phillies are 5-1 in his past six against the Mets.
Early lean: The Phillies aren't exactly killing the ball lately and don't know deGrom. Take the Mets.
Giants at Cardinals (-150, 7)
This could be a potential playoff preview matchup as Matt Cain is scheduled to face Michael Wacha. Cain (1-3, 3.66) isn't a 100 percent lock to pitch but should. He missed Monday's start with discomfort in his right hamstring. That hamstring forced him out of his last start, May 21 at Colorado, when he had blanked the Rockies for three innings. He was rocked by St. Louis last year, going 0-2 with a 14.90 ERA in two starts. Matt Carpenter is 7-for-10 with five RBIs off him. Wacha (3-3, 2.67) has yet to allow more than three runs in a start this year. He has never faced the Giants.
Key trends: The Giants are 2-6 in Cain's past eight road starts. St. Louis is 0-4 in Wacha's past four against teams with a winning record. San Francisco is 0-5 in Cain's past five in St. Louis.
Early lean: Cain will be rusty and still maybe not 100 percent. He has an ERA north of 8.00 in his career at St. Louis. Big on Cardinals.
Rays at Red Sox (-120, 9)
Boston badly needs to address its starting rotation after putting a hugely struggling Clay Buchholz on the disabled list earlier this week. Taking his place on Saturday is one of the best-named players in the majors, Rubby De La Rosa. He was acquired in that big August 2012 trade with the Dodgers. De La Rosa has made 10 career starts, all with the Dodgers, going 3-5 with a 3.88 ERA. This will be his first appearance in a Red Sox uniform. The Rays start Jake Odorizzi (2-4, 4.56). After a slow start, he has been terrific of late. He held the Red Sox to one run over six innings last time out. His ERA this month is 2.45.
Key trends: The Rays are 1-6 in Odorizzi's past seven road starts. The over is 4-1 in his past five against teams with a losing record.
Go under. Odorizzi is pitching well and De La Rosa will be new to the Rays.
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