Five to Follow MLB Betting: Friday August 1, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 7/31/2014
I understand why Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane got Jon Lester from the Boston Red Sox on Thursday as he obviously believes pitching wins championships. The small-market A's aren't going to have many chances at winning a World Series, so Beane is totally going all-in after dealing Yoenis Cespedes to Boston and earlier his top two prospects to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. My question: Who is going to hit on the A's? Here's a look at their game and four other matchups on Friday.
Royals at A's (-190, 7)
Oakland now has a stellar rotation of Lester, Samardzija, Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray (left-right-left-right). I haven't mentioned Hammel or Jesse Chavez because they will be the odd-men out when it comes to the playoff rotation. The A's weren't going to be able to afford Cespedes when he became a free agent after next season, so it's a pretty good move. They also got Jonny Gomes from Boston as well as fellow outfielder Sam Fuld from Minnesota for pitcher Tommy Milone. I still don't think this team hits well enough to win a World Series. Currently the A's are +400 to do so. Gomes and Fuld should both debut Friday against Kansas City. They will likely platoon eventually, but Fuld will play center field while Craig Gentry is out with a broken hand. Gray (12-3, 2.65) gets the call for Oakland. Not a bad No. 4! He hasn't allowed more than one earned run in his past five starts and the A's have won them all. Jeremy Guthrie (6-9, 4.70) goes for K.C. The Royals have lost three of his past four, and he's allowed a combined 22 runs in them.
Key trends: The Royals are 1-4 in their past five series openers. The A's are 6-0 in Gray's past six following a quality start in his last appearance. The Royals are 1-6 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Ride the A's for a while now. They are going to be incredibly pumped up that Beane is making all these moves. The emotional state of the players absolutely matters.
Rockies at Tigers (-215, 8.5)
If the Tigers ever get to the World Series, make sure you bet on their games against whichever National League team they face when Justin Verlander pitches. Why? He is an incredible 24-2 with a 2.75 ERA in his career against clubs from the Senior Circuit in the regular season. That includes 3-0 in interleague play this year. However, Verlander (9-9, 4.79) is just 4-5 with a 4.69 ERA at home in 2014. Only a few Rockies have seen him. Justin Morneau, just back from the DL, is 12-for-49 with two homers but 15 strikeouts off him. Lefty Franklin Morales (5-5, 5.18) gets the call for Colorado. He has a 6.20 ERA on the road this season. Not many Tigers have faced him. Victor Martinez is 1-for-2 with a double and RBI.
Key trends: The Rockies have won just five of their past 23 series openers. The Tigers are 5-0 in their past five interleague games vs. lefties. The over is 13-2-1 in Detroit's past 16 at home against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: I'd like to take a shot on the Rockies because of Verlander's overall shakiness, but I can't bring myself to do so. Colorado at -105 on the runline might be a good bet, though. I would lean over.
Yankees at Red Sox (TBA)
Presumably Cespedes, the two-time Home Run Derby champion, will make his Red Sox debut in this game. The Red Sox think they will be World Series contenders again next season, and they badly needed power. Cespedes (.256, 17 HRs, 67 RBIs) does that, plus he's a tremendous defensive player. The Red Sox are loaded with prospects, so they didn't really need more for Lester. Cespedes will face Yankees lefty Chris Capuano (1-1, 4.30) for the first time. Capuano was just picked up by the Bombers and had a solid first start, allowing two runs and six hits over six innings in a no-decision vs. Toronto. Shane Victorino is 4-for-10 with three doubles and a solo homer off Capuano. Boston was scheduled to start John Lackey, but he was traded to St. Louis on Thursday. So now the Sox will have to call someone up, and it could well be Anthony Ranaudo. He was supposed to pitch Friday in Triple-A. He is 12-4 with a 2.41 ERA in 21 starts for Pawtucket. Allen Craig could also make his Boston debut here. He was acquired from St. Louis along with pitcher Joe Kelly.
Key trends: The Yankees are 2-9 in their past 11 vs. the AL East. Boston has lost six straight vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 5-2 in the past seven meetings in Boston. The over is 7-0 in New York's past seven after an off day.
Early lean: This will be a rare time I include a TBA line. This line should be around a pick'em no matter the Boston starter because it's in Fenway, and my point of including this is: bet heavy against the Sox for a little while. The players are going to be in the dumps after losing the team's two best pitchers. Management has clearly waived the white flag, even though the offense is better with Cespedes and Craig.
Braves at Padres (+125, 7)
Atlanta is hoping to get outfielder Jason Heyward back on Friday. He hasn't played since Monday due to back soreness. Heyward is hitting .260 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs. Heyward is 2-for-7 career with a solo homer off San Diego starter Eric Stults (3-13, 5.22). The Padres may have to ship him to the bullpen soon to avoid Stults joining the infamous 20-loss club. Nine of the past 10 times he has taken the mound, San Diego has lost. That includes Sunday in Atlanta when he allowed six runs in six innings. He's a decent 3-4 with a 4.50 ERA at home this season. It's fellow lefty Mike Minor (4-6, 5.23) for Atlanta. He was opposite Stults on Sunday and got the win, giving up three runs over 6.2 innings. Yangervis Solarte and Rene Rivera each hit solo homers off Minor.
Key trends: The Braves are 1-5 in their past six series openers. The under has hit in eight of San Diego's past 10 series openers. The under is 5-0 in Stults' past five at home.
Early lean: If you are going to bet on Stults at all the rest of the year, do it at home. Atlanta had to finish a big series with the Dodgers on Thursday night, so I believe San Diego steals this one. Under at -125.
Cubs at Dodgers (-185, 7)
This is a tough turnaround for the Cubs as they had to play at home on Thursday afternoon before flying across the country to face the National League-favored Dodgers. It's presumed the Cubs will not have their leadoff hitter in utility man Emilio Bonifacio. He was going somewhere before Thursday's deadline because he didn't play either Wednesday or Thursday and is healthy. It's Kyle Hendricks (1-1, 2.33) for the Cubs, and he's the team's top young pitching prospect. After a so-so big-league debut, he has allowed just one run over 13.1 innings in his next two. He grew up in the L.A. area so no doubt will be quite excited. Dan Haren (8-8, 4.49), the weak link of the Dodgers rotation, goes for Los Angeles, which has lost his past four starts. This is why the Dodgers are looking for a back-end starter.
Key trends: The Cubs are 7-1 in their past eight Friday games. L.A. is 3-8 in Haren's past 11 vs. teams with a losing record. The Cubs are 1-9 in the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: Go Chicago at -130 on the runline against a shaky Haren. Plus, the Dodgers don't know Hendricks.
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