Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday April 3, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 4/2/2014
Most of the first series of the season come to a close in Thursday's baseball action, and it's getaway day for a handful of teams -- there's always value to be found in those day after night games. Here's a look at five interesting matchups on the MLB schedule for Thursday.
Cardinals at Reds (-110, 8)
What I aim to do in these opening line reports is give you a solid head's up for betting value before the rest of the world/oddsmakers catch up. Thus, sometimes I will speculate on games in which players might sit. And that's going to happen most often in a getaway day game after a night game. Those are often played Thursdays. That is the case with Cardinals at Reds as they play at 12:35 p.m. ET after a 7:10 game on Wednesday. So I am projecting that St. Louis will not play all-star catcher Yadier Molina here. He's just too valuable to start him 12 hours after a night game. Plus, the Reds are starting a tough right-handed pitcher in Homer Bailey, although Molina is 8-for-25 off him with two homers. I still say he sits. Bailey was 2-2 with a 4.01 ERA last year against St. Louis. Matt Carpenter his hitting .625 in his career off Bailey. Matt Holliday is 12-for-35 with two homers and seven RBIs off him. St. Louis goes with Lance Lynn. He was 1-1 with a 4.74 ERA in three starts at Great American Ball Park a year ago. Jay Bruce is 6-for-14 with a homer off him.
Key trends: The Reds are 8-3 in Bailey's past 11 starts, while the Cards are the opposite record in Lynn's past 11 on the road.
Early lean: All things being equal, you should normally lean toward the home team in a getaway day game. Lynn doesn't much like pitching in Cincinnati, either.
Royals at Tigers (-180, 8)
I highly recommend you watch Thursday's Royals-Tigers game if given the chance as Kansas City has a very impressive young right-hander in Yordano Ventura. He has been hitting 100+ mph on the radar gun all spring. He won the last open spot in the Kansas City rotation by posting a 2.70 ERA in 23.1 spring innings. Ventura made three starts last year and allowed six runs -- 11 strikeouts and six walks -- in 15.1 innings. This could be a good value play because the Tigers batters have never seen him in a regular-season game, and he's likely going to be scarily wild, which can work to a pitcher's advantage. The Tigers counter with Anibal Sanchez. He had a 3.00 ERA this spring. Sanchez was 2-1 with a 1.33 ERA in three 2013 starts vs. the Royals. This is a day game, and Sanchez's ERA was nearly a run worse in the day than at night overall last year.
Key trends: The Tigers are 1-4 in Sanchez's past five starts. The "under" is 4-1 in his past five against Kansas City.
Early lean: Take the Royals on the runline at -120 as Ventura should befuddle the Tigers for 5-6 innings.
Twins at White Sox (-133, 8)
The Twins spent big bucks to upgrade the majors' worst pitching staff last season by signing Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes to big free-agent deals. Nolasco didn't look good in his debut Monday in a loss at the White Sox, and it's Hughes' turn on Thursday in the series finale. Hughes got $24 million despite going a wretched 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA last year for the Yankees. He only pitched 1.1 innings against the White Sox. Hughes was an ugly 1-7 in day games in 2013. No White Sox have had much success off him as the current Sox who have faced Hughes have hit a combined .130 with no homers in 69 at-bats. Chicago counters with lefty Jose Quintana. He got a big new extension this spring when he was largely pounded. He was 2-1 with a 4.08 ERA against the Twins last year. Joe Mauer has eaten his lunch, going 6-for-12 with two homers. Josh Willingham is 6-for-13 with two dingers.
Key trends: The Twins are 4-12 in the past 16 Game 3s of a series. The under is 6-0 in Quintana's past six home starts.
Early lean: Two iffy pitchers, yet I like the under because it's going to be a cold, rainy, windy day.
Giants at Diamondbacks (-116, 9)
What were the Giants thinking in giving Tim Lincecum a two-year, $35 million extension this offseason? Over the last two seasons, Lincecum has posted a 4.76 ERA, which translates to a 72 ERA+ that is tied for the worst among all big-league starters with at least 300 innings in that stretch. You'd think the Giants would have learned from the Barry Zito experience -- he was tied with Lincecum on that number. I'm not sure Lincecum will be 100 percent here. He was hit pretty hard by a comebacker in a spring game Friday. He suffered only a bruised knee. Lincecum was 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA in two starts at Arizona's Chase Field in 2013. Jump hard on a Paul Goldschmidt prop here. He's 10-for-20 with five homers and 11 RBIs off Lincecum. The Snakes counter with Bronson Arroyo in his Arizona debut. He missed time this spring with back issues. He was 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA last year against the Giants while with Cincinnati. Hunter Pence is a career .325 hitter with two homers off Arroyo.
Key trends: San Francisco is 2-6 in Lincecum's past eight starts against Arizona. The under is 9-3-1 in the past 13 meetings.
Early lean: I don't trust either pitcher yet so would lean "over" -- it's the highest total of Thursday's schedule. Slight lean to Arizona on the side.
Mariners at A's (-125, 7.5)
Why did the Mariners not sign free agent pitcher Ervin Santana when they had the chance? The M's knew that Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker weren't going to be ready for the start of the season yet did nothing to beef up the rotation, which is a major question after Felix Hernandez and Iwakuma as it is. Makes no sense considering Seattle gave Robinson Cano $240 million to help the team back to respectability. So on Thursday in the series opener in Oakland the M's have to turn to Cuban lefty Roenis Elias, who makes the jump from Double-A ball. He was very good this spring with a 2.04 ERA. The A's have never seen him. The Mariners offense has looked quite good entering Wednesday with 18 runs in two wins over the Halos. Oakland is scheduled to start right-hander Jesse Chavez. He's been a journeyman with only two career starts, in 2012 with Toronto. He had a 3.92 ERA in relief with the A's a season ago. Few Mariners have seen him. Oakland was forced to play a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday against Cleveland because of a rare home rainout Tuesday (first in Oakland since May 1998).
Key trends: Seattle is 1-6 in its past seven series openers. The over is 5-0 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: That Oakland doubleheader hugely benefits Seattle in terms of taxing the Oakland bullpen and potentially wearing out a few regulars. I like the Mariners here.
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