Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday April 24, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 4/23/2014
It's largely a getaway day Thursday in the majors, so there are six matinees for baseball bettors to enjoy on the schedule. Bovada will offer live betting on three games overall: Cardinals at Mets, Yankees at Red Sox and Phillies at Dodgers. Here is a look at five interesting matchups on Thursday.
Royals at Indians (-128, 8.5)
Here comes Kansas City. Most expected the Royals to be the primary challengers to Detroit in the AL Central, and after a slow start they are playing better -- essentially the offense has started to catch up to the pitching. The team still isn't going anywhere if Mike Moustakas doesn't get well over the Mendoza Line. He entered Wednesday leading the team with three home runs but batting just .138. K.C. lefty Bruce Chen (1-1, 6.60) starts Thursday's series finale He was very good in his season debut but has allowed 10 runs and 15 hits over 8.2 innings in his past two, both against Minnesota. Chen was 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA in 17.1 innings last year against the Tribe. Jason Giambi, who made his season debut Monday, is likely to start. He's 6-for-16 with four home runs off Chen. Cleveland starts Corey Kluber (1-2, 5.40). Batters are hitting .337 off him this season. He was 2-0 with a 3.28 ERA in four 2013 starts against the Royals. Maybe Moustakas wakes up here as he's 6-for-12 with three doubles off Kluber.
Key trends: The Indians are 0-5 in their past five against lefty starters. The "under" is 4-1 in Chen's past four road starts against Cleveland. Cleveland is 9-2 in Kluber's past 11 home starts.
Early lean: Prefer the "over" (-110) to any side here.
Twins at Rays (-147, 8.5)
Quick, tell me who Chris Colabello is. I knew the name but couldn't have told you much about the Minnesota DH entering this season, but he's been arguably the biggest surprise hitter in the AL so far. Entering Wednesday, the 30-year-old, who made his big-league debut last year with 160 at-bats, is third in the AL in batting and leads in RBIs. Chris Colabello! Needless to say, that won't last, but it's part of why the Twins are surprisingly competitive despite another terrible pitching staff. One of their big offseason additions was Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 6.08), and he's been awful in three of his four starts. Unfortunately for him, all three were on the road, and that's where he will be Thursday, in St. Petersburg. Take a flier on a Matt Joyce prop. I am assuming he gets a start here as Joyce is 3-for-6 with two home runs off Nolasco. The Rays start Erik Bedard (0-0, 6.35), who has no right pitching in the majors these days. Colabello is 0-for-3 with two walks career off him.
Key trends: The Twins are 1-4 in their past five road games against lefty starters. The Rays are 1-4 in their past five Game 3s of a series. The over is 10-1 in Minnesota's past 11 road games vs. teams with a winning home record entering Wednesday. The over is 5-1 in Tampa Bay's past six at home against righty starters.
Early lean: Heavily prefer the over (-110) to the side. How is this not at 9?
White Sox at Tigers (-190, 8.5)
Detroit is the biggest favorite on the board for Thursday's games, and I'm not going to bury the lead: that could be great value for betting on the White Sox. Why? Detroit's Max Scherzer was of course terrific last year in winning his first Cy Young Award and leading the majors with 21 wins. However, he had a bit of trouble with the White Sox. Detroit lost two of his three final starts against the Pale Hose, and they are way better offensively this year than last. Overall, Scherzer was 3-1 with a 3.13 ERA in five starts against Chicago. The Tigers have lost two of Scherzer's four starts this year even though he's a solid 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA. Scherzer has given up one home run in each of his past three outings. Chicago's Dayan Viciedo, who leads the AL in batting, is 6-for-19 with two homers off Scherzer. The Sox start lefty Jose Quintana (1-1, 3.75), now the team's ace with Chris Sale on the DL. He was 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 2013 against Detroit.
Key trends: The Sox are 2-10 in Quintana's past 12 road starts against a team with a winning record. Detroit is 11-2 in its past 13 against lefty starters. It is 4-1 in Scherzer's past five at home vs. Chicago.
Early lean: Forget those trends. Chicago looks like good value at +180 considering Quintana's success against Detroit and the fact the Sox don't appear intimidated by Scherzer.
Yankees at Red Sox (-105, 9)
This opened as the only "pick'em" for Thursday's action. Neither team's lefty starter has been very good this season. The Yankees start CC Sabathia (2-2, 5.19). As good as Masahiro Tanaka has been, the Yanks aren't winning anything if Sabathia doesn't return to 2012 form. He did have his first quality start of the season last time out, holding Tampa Bay to one earned run over seven innings. However, he has allowed 28 hits, including five home runs, in 26 innings. The Red Sox got him for four runs and six hits in a 4-2 Boston win April 11. Look for David Ross to get the start behind the plate for Boston as he's 7-for-21 with two homers off Sabathia. The Sox start Felix Doubront (1-2, 5.48). He has been better than his numbers for the most part, with his ERA weighed down by a bad outing April 8 vs. Texas. He pitched April 13 at the Yankees and allowed three runs in 6.2 innings in a loss. Alfonso Soriano has two homers in eight at-bats off him.
Key trends: New York is 7-1 in its past eight against a lefty starter. The Sox are 5-1 in Doubront's past six against teams with a winning record. The Yankees are 4-9 in Sabathia's past 13 starts vs. Boston.
Early lean: Getting Sabathia at "pick'em" against a clearly inferior pitcher -- at least I think inferior -- is something you shouldn't pass up.
A's at Astros (+148, 7.5)
Houston is the biggest home dog on the board Thursday, but that will likely happen often this season. This is the series opener between these teams, with the Astros only 3-7 at home after winning their first two games of the year at Minute Maid Park. Oakland is a tremendous 7-2 on the road. It also swept three home games against the Astros last weekend, holding Houston to a total of seven runs. Scott Kazmir (2-0, 1.65) starts for Oakland. He went a season-high eight innings last time out against the Astros, allowing two earned runs and his first homer of the season. The A's have won all four of his starts. Houston counters with lefty Brett Oberholtzer (0-3, 3.04), who clearly is getting no run support. He faced Oakland opposite Kazmir in his last start and allowed one earned run over 5.2 innings in a no-decision. The Astros still haven't scored more than three runs in any of his starts.
Key trends: Houston is 1-5 in its past six series openers. The under is 7-1 in the Astros' past eight against a lefty starter. The A's have won 10 of the past 11 meetings.
Early lean: Astros lose by a run, so take them at -120 on the runline.
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