Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday July 24, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 7/23/2014
With four matinee games on Thursday, it's another one of those days where you will want to monitor which starters might get the day off following a night game before dropping down some money on the early starts. For example, the Red Sox and Blue Jays will play their series finale about 12 hours after Wednesday night's finish. Then both have to fly out. The Giants close a series in Philly and then fly across country to open a big series at home Friday night against the Dodgers. Doing your homework on a manager's history in games like these can lead to long-term winnings. Here's a look at five interesting matchups on Thursday.
Rangers at Yankees (-200, 8.5)
I'd be surprised it Rangers outfielder Alex Rios plays in this game, for example. He has been battling a minor ankle injury, for one. Secondly, he has been rumored close to being traded to the Royals. I suppose I should mention new Yankees acquisition Chase Headley from the Padres. He will certainly be an upgrade over what the Yankees had, which should tell you how bad things were at the hot corner, but he's not the answer to this team's woes. That is, unless Headley suddenly finds his 2012 form. He did have the game-winning single Tuesday. Another recent trade Yankee acquisition, Brandon McCarthy (4-10, 4.63), starts for the Yanks. He has been great so far in pinstripes, allowing one earned run in each of his two starts, both wins. Colby Lewis (6-7, 6.37) starts for Texas. We might actually see Derek Jeter go yard in this one. Jeter has no power left but is 3-for-5 career off Lewis with two homers.
Key trends: The Rangers are 1-4 in Lewis' past five vs. teams with a winning record. The "over" is 8-2 in Lewis' past 10. The over is 4-0 in New York's past four Thursday games.
Early lean: I get that Lewis has been lousy, but the Bombers shouldn't be -200 behind McCarthy. Go Texas at -110 on the runline.
Giants at Phillies (-120, 7)
There will be a lot of scouts at this game to look at Philly starting pitcher Cole Hamels, who isn't likely to go anywhere, and outfielder Marlon Byrd, who probably will. Hamels (4-5, 2.83) hasn't allowed more than three earned in any of his past 10 yet hasn't won back-to-back starts all season. Hamels is 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA in eight home starts. I would be moderately surprised if Giants star catcher Buster Posey plays here unless he gets Wednesday night off. It's this type of game where you rest your star catcher with San Francisco having a big series upcoming. Although Posey is 7-for-11 with a homer and five RBIs career off Hamels, so maybe not. It's Tim Hudson for the Giants. Hudson (8-6, 2.78) was hit hard in his final start before the all-star break, and the rest seemed to do him good as he beat the Marlins on Saturday, allowing just a run over 7.1 innings. Ryan Howard has seven homers and 17 RBIs and is a career .328 hitter off Hudson.
Key trends: San Francisco is 3-7 in its past 10 against lefties. The Phillies have won five straight Thursday games. The over is 7-1-1 in Hudson's past nine and 6-2-1 in Hamels' past nine at home.
Early lean: This seems like a trap game for the Giants. They will go down meekly to Hamels and get ready for the Dodgers. Howard goes yard. In fact, take the Phils at +180 on the runline.
Marlins at Braves (-147, 7.5)
Atlanta's Freddie Freeman is one of the better players in the National League. So why then does he scuffle so much against Marlins pitching? Entering Wednesday, Freeman is just 2-for-44 against Marlins pitching this season with 16 strikeouts. Take that out and Freeman (.283) is hitting over .300 on the year. Freeman is 5-for-12 in his career off Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez with three doubles, a homer and five RBIs. Alvarez (6-5, 2.64) lasted just 2.2 innings last time out because he was hit on the left shin by a comebacker, but he has been cleared. The Marlins lost that game after winning his previous 10. Atlanta's Aaron Harang (9-6, 3.36) had his second-best start of the year last time out, blanking the Phillies over six innings, but he got nothing to show for it. He is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in three starts this year vs. the Marlins.
Key trends: Miami is 5-1 in Alvarez's past six road starts. The under is 4-1 in Harang's past five. The over is 3-0-1 in Alvarez's past four vs. Atlanta.
Early lean: Under at -125.
Astros at A's (-235, 7.5)
Houston rookie star George Springer had missed two straight games entering Wednesday with knee and quad issues, so it would be a surprise if he played in this matinee in Oakland. It's a matchup of guys the Cubs have traded over the past year or so. Scott Feldman (4-7, 4.30), sent by Chicago to Baltimore last year, goes for Houston. The Astros have lost his past three and five of his past six. Feldman hasn't pitched against Oakland this year. Jeff Samardzija, traded by the Cubs a few weeks ago, starts for Oakland. Samardzija (3-8, 2.91) had the worst of his three starts with the A's on July 18, allowing four runs to the Orioles over seven innings. He gave up two two-run homers. He hasn't faced Houston in 2014. Astros all-star Jose Altuve is just 1-for-11 career off him with three strikeouts.
Key trends: Houston is 1-5 in Feldman's past six vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 4-1 in Feldman's past five against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Best value is A's at -120 on the runline.
Tigers at Angels (-127, 7)
Things get no easier for Angels ace Garrett Richards in Thursday's series opener against Detroit. Richards had to face Seattle's Felix Hernandez in his last start and pitched terrific, allowing just a run and three hits over eight innings but got a no-decision because King Felix was just as good (hope you took my recommended under there). Amazingly, Richards (11-2, 2.47) hasn't allowed more than six hits in a start since May. Now he has to deal with Tigers reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer (11-3, 3.34). He pitched through some neck spasms Saturday against Cleveland and allowed two runs and six hits over 5.2 innings. The Tigers lost for the first time in his past four starts. Scherzer faced the Halos on April 19 and held them to a run and three hits over seven innings in a win. Mike Trout is 3-for-13 with a homer but eight strikeouts off him.
Key trends: The Tigers have won five straight Thursday games. The Angels are 5-1 in their past six series openers. The under is 4-0 in Scherzer's past four against the Angels.
Early lean: Two good offenses, but I'm surprised this total isn't 6.5. Go under at -115.
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