Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday July 10, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 7/9/2014
Thursday is an interesting day in baseball as we will learn which player from the American League and National League won the fan vote for the final spot on the All-Star Game rosters. I think both Chicago players get them: White Sox pitcher Chris Sale and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. As of the last update Sale was leading in the AL but Rizzo is a bit behind NL-leader Justin Morneau of the Rockies. Also Thursday the final Home Run Derby participant in each league will be announced. Supposedly it's going to be a "special" selection for each, meaning maybe it won't be a guy we think of who normally goes yard (Ichiro would be a great one). Here's a look at five interesting games on the Thursday schedule.
Cubs at Reds (-185, 8)
Predictably, the Cubs have gone into a slide following the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade. There won't be much for Cubs fans to be excited about the rest of the year, but this game is something. The team's 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Kyle Hendricks, makes his first big-league start. Hendricks was 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 16 Triple-A starts this season. Also, second baseman Darwin Barney headed to the paternity list Wednesday, meaning the Cubs will call up and play top second base prospect Arismendy Alcantara until Barney comes off the list, probably Friday. Alcantara is hitting .304 with 10 home runs and 21 steals in Triple-A. Homer Bailey (8-5, 4.15) starts for the Reds. Bailey has allowed a total of one earned run over his past two starts. Bailey is 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in two starts against the Cubs this season.
Key trends: The Reds are 5-1 in Bailey's past six at home. The "under" is 4-1 in his past five at home against teams with a losing record. The Reds are 10-1 in Bailey's past 11 against the Cubs.
Early lean: The Cubs are still hanging their heads over losing two teammates, and Bailey has owned them. Go Reds on the runline at +115. I'd go under too since the Reds don't know Hendricks.
Phillies at Brewers (-184, 8.5)
My guess is Brewers star outfielder Ryan Braun doesn't play here because it's a getaway day game after a night game. He had missed two of the past three games entering Wednesday with back spasms. It seems just a matter of time before Milwaukee coughs up the NL Central lead as it is in a major funk. Matt Garza (6-5, 3.78) looks to stop the bleeding Thursday. Garza had his best start as a Brewer last time out, throwing a complete-game, two-hit shutout in Cincinnati. He pitched in Philly back on April 9 and allowed three earned and eight hits over six innings. Marlon Byrd has two homers and nine RBIs career off him in 19 at-bats. David Buchanan (4-5, 4.82) starts for the Phillies. He has allowed exactly three runs in each of his past two starts, losing both. Buchanan has never faced a Brewer.
Key trends: The Phillies have won four straight Thursday games. The Brewers are 4-1 in Garza's past five at home against teams with a losing record. The under is 4-0 in Buchanan's past four road starts.
Early lean: Best bet is Phils at +1.5 on the runline at -135. Potentially no Braun to worry about, and the Brewers don't know Buchanan.
Nationals at Orioles (-105, 8)
Washington starter Gio Gonzalez has the quietest 22-inning scoreless streak going in baseball right now because it's being overshadowed by Clayton Kershaw's brilliance. Gonzalez (6-4, 3.52) has allowed just nine hits over those 22 innings. His ERA has dropped from 4.85 over that span. Gonzalez has had Nelson Cruz's number over the years as the Orioles slugger and MLB home-run leader is 0-for-10 with three strikeouts off Gonzalez. Chris Davis is 1-for-6 with three strikeouts. Lefty Wei-Yin Chen (8-3, 4.12) goes for Baltimore. The team has alternated losses and wins over his past eight starts, meaning he's due a loss here as Chen beat the Rangers last time out. Washington's Adam LaRoche is 2-for-3 career with a homer off Chen. Bryce Harper is 2-for-5 with at triple and two RBIs.
Key trends: Washington is 4-1 in Gonzalez's past five interleague starts. The Orioles are 4-0 in their past four interleague at home against lefties. The over is 6-1 in Baltimore's past seven interleague home games against lefties.
Early lean: A guy with a 22-inning scoreless streak opens at only a "pick'em"? Jump on that right away.
Tigers at Royals (-105, 8.5)
Will the Detroit Tigers have DH Victor Martinez, one of the American League's leading hitters, in the lineup for this series opener? He was out of the lineup for a fourth straight game on Wednesday because of back issues. Miguel Cabrera also didn't start Wednesday, but it was just a rest day against a good pitcher. The Royals won three of four in Detroit in mid-June to briefly take over first place in the AL Central. Martinez is hitting .343 with a home run and four RBIs vs. Kansas City this year. He is 9-for-30 career with three doubles off Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie (5-7, 4.02). He beat Detroit on June 18, allowing one run and four hits over 6.2 innings. Lefty Drew Smyly (4-8, 3.89) starts for the Tigers. He pitched well against the Royals on June 18, allowing two runs in seven innings, but he took the loss. Royals DH Billy Butler is 6-for-11 career off Smyly.
Key trends: The Tigers are 5-1 in their past six series openers. The Royals are 5-0 in their past five series openers. The Royals are 4-0 in Guthrie's past four at home vs. Detroit. The over is 5-2 in the past seven meetings overall.
Early lean: I lean Royals here in small part because of Martinez possibly sitting but also the Tigers have a playoff-type game Wednesday against the Dodgers. So if there's such a thing as a letdown game in baseball, this might be one.
Padres at Dodgers (-240, 6.5)
Kershaw (10-2, 1.85) is on the mound for this one, and he's just ridiculous at this point. His scoreless innings streak is up to 36 after allowing just two hits over eight innings at Coors Field on July 4. Kershaw has now won seven straight starts, with his ERA dropping from 3.57. He hasn't faced the Padres, the worst offensive team in the majors, yet this season. San Diego outfielder Chris Denorfia isn't intimidated by Kershaw, going 9-for-29 with three homers, two doubles and four RBIs off him. The Padres start impressive Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne (2-0, 0.92). He has yet to give up more than a run in his first three big-league starts. That Dodgers lineup might get outfielder Carl Crawford back for this one. He has been on the disabled list since May 27 with a sprained left ankle but is eligible to be activated Thursday.
Key trends: The Padres are 5-1 in their past six series openers. The Dodgers have won five of the past six meetings in L.A. The under is 10-1 in the past 11 meetings.
Early lean: I actually thought there was a chance L.A. would be as short as -300 here and the total at 6.0. Is this Despaigne guy for real? Maybe the Padres are worth a shot at +100 on the runline. Go under at -120 regardless.
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