Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday, June 26, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 6/26/2014
The last time the St. Louis Cardinals saw the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cards roughed up L.A. ace Clayton Kershaw in Game 6 of the 2013 National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series. The Cards open a four-game set in Los Angeles on Thursday night in the series of the weekend. It's certainly possible the two face off in the postseason again this fall. The Dodgers are +350 second-favorites (to San Francisco) at Sportsbook.ag to win the NL pennant, and St. Louis is right behind at +500. Here's a look at that matchup Thursday and four other interesting games.
Cardinals at Dodgers (+107, 6.5)
The Cardinals start ace Adam Wainwright (10-3, 2.08) in the opener, and he might be the Cy Young favorite, although Kershaw is closing fast. Wainwright pitched Game 3 of the NLCS in Los Angeles and took the loss despite allowing just two runs and six hits over seven innings. He has been brilliant in June with a 2-0 record and 1.17 ERA. He also has been excellent on the road this season, going 6-2 with a 1.50 ERA in nine starts. Batters are hitting only .197 off him. Andre Ethier hits him well, going 9-for-30 with three doubles, two home runs and six RBIs. Josh Beckett (5-4, 2.28) starts for L.A. He threw seven scoreless innings last time out in San Diego. Over his past six starts he has a 1.58 ERA. Matt Holliday is 7-for-20 with a homer off Beckett.
Key trends: The Cardinals are 4-0 in Wainwright's past four road starts. The "under" has hit in six of the Cardinals' past seven series openers. The "under" is 4-1 in Wainwright's past five against the Dodgers.
Early lean: Wainwright is terrific, no doubt, but jump on L.A. as a home dog when you get the chance.
Twins at Angels (-185, 8.5)
If the Angels have a lead in the top of the ninth inning, it will be Joe Smith closing out the game and not the struggling Ernesto Frieri. Mike Scioscia made the decision after Smith pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn a save Tuesday. Frieri has 11 saves this year, but three blown saves and a 5.64 ERA. The bullpen has been the Angels' weakest link. Jered Weaver gets the start in this getaway game series finale. Weaver (7-6, 3.47) had one of his best outings of the season last time out, holding the Rangers to a run on four hits over eight innings. Ricky Nolasco (4-5, 5.52) starts for Minnesota. He has been terrible on the road this year, going 2-3 with a 7.11 ERA. Albert Pujols is 10-for-19 with three homers and eight RBIs off him.
Key trends: The Angels are 12-1 in Weaver's past 13 Thursday starts. The "under" is 7-0-1 in Weaver's past eight on Thursday. The Angels are 7-0 in Weaver's past seven at home vs. Minnesota.
Early lean: Angels +105 on the runline and a dinger for Pujols, who has been scuffling.
Mets at Pirates (-154, 8)
Pittsburgh is likely to be without outfielder Starling Marte again on Thursday. He left Tuesday's game after taking a knee to the head while trying to steal second, but he has been cleared for a concussion. He also jammed his right middle finger. Marte sat out Wednesday and probably gets a few more on the bench. He is hitting .260 with 27 RBIs and 18 steals. So that's one less worry for Mets starter Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-1, 2.68), who may actually have some trade value. His ERA is nearly three points higher (4.22) on the road than at home this year. Vance Worley (1-0, 1.98) gets the call for Pittsburgh. He has been solid in his two starts since being recalled from Triple-A. I can just about guarantee you that Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy doesn't get the night off. He is 12-for-17 in his career off Worley.
Key trends: The Pirates are 8-2 in their past 10 series openers. The "under" is 5-0 in the past five meetings in Pittsburgh.
Early lean: Unless Murphy wins the game himself, I lean Pittsburgh.
Reds at Giants (-113, 7.5)
San Francisco finally put outfielder Angel Pagan on the disabled list Wednesday. Pagan (.307, 11 steals) hasn't played since Jun 14 because of a back injury. This is the series opener, and Cincinnati had to fly from Chicago late Wednesday night, while the Giants played a home afternoon game Wednesday. Don't think that doesn't matter. Mike Leake (5-6, 3.59) starts for the Reds. He pitched against the Giants on June 5 and allowed five runs and eight hits over five innings in a loss. Pablo Sandoval kills him, going 11-for-17 with two doubles and two homers. It's Ryan Vogelsong for San Francisco. Vogelsong (5-3, 4.13) pitched in Cincinnati on June 4 and won, allowing two runs over 6.1 innings. Todd Frazier is 3-for-7 with two dingers off him.
Key trends: The Reds are 2-5 in Leake's past seven series-opening starts. The Giants have lost five straight series openers. San Francisco is 4-0 in Vogelsong's past four against the Reds.
Early lean: Tired Reds go down meekly as the Giants finally win an opener.
Nationals at Cubs (+116, TBA)
This is also a series opener, and the Doug Fister is now showing why the Nats were so excited to land him in trade with the Tigers this offseason. Throw out his rusty season debut, and Fister has allowed more than two runs just once. Fister (6-2, 2.65) threw eight shutout innings against Atlanta in his last start. Lefty Travis Wood (7-6, 4.55) starts for Chicago. He lasted only 4.2 innings last time out, allowing three runs against Pittsburgh. The Cubs had won his previous three starts. Always consider Wood's bat when he pitches. He is batting .267 (third on team) with two home runs and nine RBIs this year.
Key trends: The Nationals are 5-2 in their past seven against a lefty. Washington has won eight of the past 11 meetings.
Early lean: Fister looks like one of the NL's best right now, so the Nats are an easy choice. Also worth a look at +145 on the runline.
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