Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday June 5, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 6/4/2014
Frankly, the most important thing in baseball isn't likely to happen on the field Thursday but at Studio 42 from the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey. The annual first-year player draft begins Thursday, and while there aren't considered any lock franchise players in this draft like a Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper, it is thought to be a very deep group. But in baseball it's a crapshoot. The Houston Astros, already looking like they are on the way up, only get richer with a third straight No. 1 overall pick. But here's a look at five interesting matchups on the diamond Thursday.
Blue Jays at Tigers (-168, 8.5)
Detroit probably didn't win the AL pennant last year because of its bullpen. The Tigers thought they solved that problem by adding free-agent closer Joe Nathan this offseason. He allowed four runs in a third of an inning Tuesday in a loss to Toronto, the third straight outing Nathan has allowed at least two runs. His ERA is up to 6.86. Manager Brad Ausmus says he's still the closer, but keep an eye on that. The Tigers may not need Nathan on Thursday with Justin Verlander (6-4, 3.99) on the mound. As predicted, he bounced back from three straight bad outings with a win over Seattle last time out. He hasn't faced the Jays. Mr. May, Edwin Encarnacion, has two homers in 18 at-bats off him but just one other hit. Lefty J.A. Happ (4-2, 4.10) starts for Toronto. He allowed a season-high six runs last time against the Royals and hasn't faced Detroit.
Key trends: The Tigers are 1-4 in their past five against lefties. The "under" is 9-1 in Happ's past 10 against teams with a winning record. Detroit is 5-1 in Verlander's past six against Toronto.
Early lean: I lean under as Verlander holds the Jays to one run over eight innings.
A's at Yankees (-165, 8)
I really don't understand how Masahiro Tanaka keeps avoiding teams for a second time. Again, his only subpar outing, and it wasn't that bad, was the second time he saw the Cubs. Otherwise has hasn't allowed more than three earned runs. Tanaka (8-1, 2.06) was just the fourth rookie since 1958 to have eight wins before the end of May. This will be his first time facing Oakland, currently the best team in the AL. Lefty Drew Pomeranz (5-2, 2.37) starts for the A's. The only active Yankee who has faced him is Alfonso Soriano, who is 1-for-3 with a home run.
Key trends: New York is 0-4 in its past four against a lefty starter. The under is 5-1 in the Yanks' past six against a southpaw.
I can't explain how Oakland is this good. Or why I believe the A's hand Tanaka his first home loss.
Angels at Astros (+114, 8.5)
Bad news for the Angels: just as Josh Hamilton returned Tuesday night from a long DL stint, Mike Trout could be headed there. Trout sat out Saturday and Sunday with a sore back. He started Tuesday but left after striking out in his first at-bat with back discomfort. I'd imagine he's out at least a few more days if not headed to the DL. So that's good news for Houston starter Brad Peacock (1-4, 4.76). He has had two straight very good starts, and Houston has won both. He debuted this season against the Angels and allowed four runs in three innings. Albert Pujols is 2-for-2 with two doubles off him. L.A. starts lefty Tyler Skaggs (4-3, 4.14). He has been predictably inconsistent for a young guy, and the Angels have lost his past two after winning his previous three. His best start of the year was May 20 against the Astros, holding them to a run over seven innings.
Key trends: The Angels are 4-1 in Skaggs' past five against teams with a losing record. Houston is 1-5 in Peacock's past six against teams with a winning record. The "over" is 8-2 in Skaggs' past 10.
Early lean: Houston's a different club right now. Good underdog value at home.
Cardinals at Royals (+107, 7.5)
This is easily the pitching matchup of the day in my opinion with two young fireballers in the Cardinals' Michael Wacha and the Royals' Yordano Ventura. Wacha (4-3, 2.45) has yet to allow more than three earned runs in a start and blanked the NL-best Giants over six innings last time out. He did face the Royals once last year, allowing one run and two hits over seven innings. No starter may throw harder than Ventura (2-5, 3.45). He left his last start after only 2.2 innings with elbow discomfort, but it was nothing substantial. The team skipped his next start. Kansas City has lost five straight of his outings, but it's because the Royals don't score.
Key trends: The Cardinals are 0-6 in Wacha's past six road starts. The Royals are 1-6 in Ventura's past seven at home. The under is 3-0-1 in Ventura's past four against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Under!
Diamondbacks at Rockies (-139, 10.5)
Well, you knew an injury to either Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez was coming for the Rockies, and Gonzalez left Tuesday's game after five innings when he aggravated his left index finger injury. This has been bothering him for a while, and it seems more than likely he's headed to the DL. Gonzalez is hitting .255 with eight homers and 31 knocked in. He's hitting a cool .354 at home. So that's one less thing to worry about for Arizona's Bronson Arroyo (4-4, 4.39). He has alternated good and bad starts over his past four so he's due a good one. He hasn't faced Colorado this year. Tulowitzki is a .426 hitter with two dingers off him. Juan Nicasio (5-3, 4.06) starts for Colorado. He opened the season against Arizona, allowing a run over seven innings.
Key trends: The Rockies are 5-1 in Nicasio's past six home starts. The under is 5-0 in Arroyo's past five road starts. The over is 4-1 in Nicasio's past five at home against Arizona.
Arroyo has been better on the road, and while there's no road park like Coors Field, go under that monster total.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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