Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday July 31, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 7/30/2014
Thursday is one of the most interesting baseball days of the year and one to keep the MLB Network going all day long on your television or mobile device. The trade deadline is at 4 p.m. ET, so if you see a big name or two pulled early from an afternoon game, that means a trade is likely coming. For example, Boston scratched ace Jon Lester from Wednesday's start in anticipation of a deal. Here's a look at five interesting matchups Thursday.
White Sox at Tigers (-181, 9)
Chicago left-hander John Danks is definitely a guy who might get scratched as he's been linked with the New York Yankees. Danks makes about $14.5 million each over the next two years, but that's chump change for the Yanks, who still badly need pitching. Danks (9-6, 4.40) is still only 29. He has fared well against the Tigers in 2014, going 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA in two starts. Ian Kinsler is a career .342 hitter with four homers off him in 38 at-bats. Keep in mind it's a getaway day game, so a few starters might just rest for rest's sake. Fellow lefty Drew Smyly starts for Detroit. Smyly (6-9, 3.77) faced the Pale Hose back on April 23 and allowed two runs over six innings. White Sox rookie Jose Abreu, who is red hot again and deserves major AL MVP consideration, has a homer in three at-bats off Smyly.
Key trends: The Sox are 5-0 in Danks' past five against teams with a winning record. Detroit is 1-6 in Smyly's past seven at home against teams with a winning record. Chicago is 1-5 in Danks' past six on the road vs. Detroit.
Early lean: Tigers are slumping again, so as long as Abreu doesn't get the day off (he might just move to DH and Paul Konerko will play first with Adam Dunn on the bench), the Sox are good underdog value.
Cardinals at Padres (-114, 7)
You hear some reports that the Cardinals have talked to the Rays about David Price and Boston about Jon Lester. To land one of those, for sure Price (who will snag more than Lester because he's not a free agent until after next season), St. Louis might have to give up talented young starting pitcher Shelby Miller in a package. So let's see if Miller (7-8, 4.20) takes the mound as scheduled on Thursday. He has been a bit shaky this month with a 0-1 record and 4.75 ERA in four appearances (three starts), but there's no questioning the 23-year-old's upside. Miller hasn't faced San Diego this season. The Padres' Chris Denorfia, who might be on the move, is 3-for-4 career off him with a double. Cuban righty Odrisamer Despaigne (2-2, 1.66) goes for San Diego. He had been tremendous in his first five big-league starts but was brought back to earth last time by Atlanta, lasting just 3.2 innings and allowing five earned. He has never faced the Cardinals.
Key trends: St. Louis is 1-5 in Miller's past six vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 7-0 in his past seven against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Really the Padres should never be favored over the Cardinals with how bad San Diego is offensively. Go St. Louis.
Phillies at Nationals (-148, 7)
Washington might now be in the market for a third baseman or second baseman with the reports that the hamstring tear suffered by Ryan Zimmermann is the worst grade possible (Grade 3) and he could miss the rest of the regular season. The Nationals are 33-19 in Zimmerman starts this season and 24-28 when he doesn't entering Wednesday. He plays third, but the Nats cover that by sliding Anthony Rendon over from second and bringing light-hitting Danny Espinosa off the bench to play second. Lefty Gio Gonzalez starts Thursday against the Phillies. Gonzalez (6-6, 3.56) pitched in Philly on May 4 and allowed just a run over 7.1 innings but took the loss. Ben Revere is a career .385 hitter off him in 13 at-bats. It's another showcase start for Phillies lefty Cliff Lee (4-5, 3.78). He is 0-1 with a 7.59 ERA in his two starts since returning from the DL. Espinosa actually hits Lee well, going 8-for-22 with three home runs. Bryce Harper doesn't: 1-for-11 with three strikeouts.
Key trends: The Phillies have won six straight Thursday games. They are 1-6 in Lee's past seven against teams with a winning record. Washington is 7-1 in Gonzalez's past eight at home. The Phils are 1-4 in Lee's past five vs. Washington.
Early lean: Lee will be better, so under at -105.
Reds at Marlins (+115, 6.5)
The slumping Reds will be without Jay Bruce likely until Friday as he was placed on the bereavement list on Tuesday. The last thing the offensively-inept Reds (at least recently) can afford is to lose another bat. Bruce has been disappointing, though, hitting .215 with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs. Reds ace Johnny Cueto goes in the series opener, and he's the only reason Cincinnati is favored. Cueto (11-6, 2.08) ended his team's seven-game losing streak last time out, blanking Washington over seven innings on four hits. He hasn't faced the Marlins this year but has a 5.27 ERA in five career starts against them. Tom Koehler (7-7, 3.91) goes for Miami. The Marlins have won his past two starts and he's 4-3 with a 2.75 ERA at home in 2014. Only a few Reds have seen him, none with more than two at-bats.
Key trends: The Reds are 4-1 in Cueto's past five vs. Miami. The over is 4-1 in those five. The over is 7-3 in Koehler's past 10.
Early lean: Miami is good underdog value at home.
Braves at Dodgers (-194, 6)
To no surprise this is the smallest total on the board as it's a fantastic pitching matchup between Julio Teheran and Clayton Kershaw. Teheran (10-6, 2.71) hasn't been quite as good this month, with a 4.15 ERA, and he has allowed nine runs and 18 hits over 10.1 innings in his past two road starts. He's still one of the top young pitchers in baseball. Teheran has never faced the Dodgers. Kershaw (12-2, 1.76) is just ridiculous. The Dodgers have won his past 10 starts. He threw a complete-game, three-hit shutout against the Giants last time out. He's 5-1 with a 1.67 ERA in seven home starts. Kershaw chews up Justin Upton as Upton is 3-for-29 career off him with nine strikeouts. Freddie Freeman ahs a homer in two at-bats vs. Kershaw.
Key trends: Atlanta is 2-5 in Teheran's past seven against teams with a winning record. The under is 4-0 in Teheran's past four against teams with a winning record. The Dodgers are 4-1 in Kershaw's past five vs. Atlanta.
Early lean: Under at -120. This well could end 1-0 since the Dodgers haven't seen the nasty Teheran before.
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