Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday May 15, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 5/14/2014
I'm a fan of the Cubs in some regards and I take no joy in how sad it is that they simply are incapable of scoring any runs when ace Jeff Samardzija is on the mound. It actually has gotten to the point where it's almost humorous how good Samardzija has been this season and still doesn't have a win to his name in 14 straight starts. It must be infuriating. He tries again in Thursday's series finale in St. Louis. Here's a look at that and four other interesting matchups on the schedule.
Pirates at Brewers (-145, 7.5)
Usually a team would be better when one of its starting pitchers comes off the disabled list, but I'm not sure that's the case with Pittsburgh and Wandy Rodriguez (0-2, 7.65), who returns Thursday. The guy has allowed seven home runs in just 20 innings this season, was rocked in his final rehab start in Double-A and last got a big-league W on May 26, 2013 -- to be fair he then missed most of the rest of that season. That victory, it should be noted, was in Milwaukee, but Rodriguez was a way different pitcher then. He will face a lineup that will for sure be without Aramis Ramirez and probably Carlos Gomez, who is battling back troubles and still awaiting his suspension resolution. The Brewers would like it now since he's probably going to sit regardless. Milwaukee starts Yovani Gallardo (2-2, 2.92). He has a 2.92 ERA in two starts against the Pirates this year. Andrew McCutchen hits .326 with three home runs off him in 43 at-bats.
Key trends: Pittsburgh is 3-13 in its past 16 road games against right starters. It is 0-5 in Rodriguez's past five against teams with a winning record. Milwaukee has won six straight against lefties.
Early lean: Take Brewers at +145 on the runline -- they should tee off even possibly down two regulars.
Red Sox at Twins (+120, 8)
Minnesota is the biggest home dog on the board. If you go by how the starting pitchers have been recently, the Twins shouldn't be. Minnesota's Phil Hughes (4-1, 3.92) suddenly is looking like a smart free-agent investment. He has a 2.05 ERA over his past four starts, winning them all. He wasn't beating bums, either, shutting down the Tigers twice, Orioles and Royals. He hasn't faced the Sox this year. Plenty of Boston hitters know him well from Hughes' Yankees days. Mike Napoli is 5-for-9 with two homers and six RBIs off him. Big Papi is 9-for-22 with two homers and seven RBIs. Dustin Pedroia has three homers and nine RBIs in 28 at-bats. Boston starts Clay Buchholz (2-3, 6.44). He was shelled for six runs and 10 hits last time out by Texas. Joe Mauer hits him well, going 5-for-13 with three doubles.
Key trends: Boston is 1-7 in its past eight road games against righty starters. The "under" is 7-3 in the Twins' past 10 against right-handed starters.
Early lean: Roll the dice with Hughes as a dog. Buchholz hasn't looked right much this year.
Indians at Blue Jays (+102, 9.5)
You don't often see a total that is a good 1.5 runs higher than the next-highest on the board unless you are talking about a game in Colorado, but that's the case for Cleveland at Toronto on Wednesday with that 9.5 number. The Tribe are scheduled to start Danny Salazar (1-3, 5.65). His numbers don't look good, but he has been solid over his best three starts, with Cleveland winning two of them. His road ERA is 6.46, however. Toronto starts lefty J.A. Happ (1-1, 4.63). He allowed four runs and seven hits in just 2.1 innings last time out against the Angels. Happ has a home ERA of 9.00 this season, so perhaps the total makes some sense now.
Key trends: The Indians are 0-7 in their past seven road games against lefty starters. The Jays are 1-8 in Happ's past nine starts. The under is 11-1 in Happ's past 12 at home. The under is 4-1 in Salazar's past five Game 3 starts.
Early lean: No clue who wins the game, but I don't think the teams combine for more than nine runs.
Cubs at Cardinals (-150, 7)
Samardzija (0-3, 1.45) threw six shutout innings last time out against the Braves, but naturally the Cubs were blanked. Three times this season, he has had a quality start in which he left the game tied. In two other instances, he gave up two and three runs and left the game with his team trailing. On April 29, in his worst start of the season, he gave up three runs in 5⅔ innings and exited down one. In an April 23 start, he gave up two runs over 7.2 innings and left with a 5-2 lead only for the Cubs bullpen to allow five ninth-inning runs on Wrigley Field's 100th birthday. The only game the Cubs have won this year that Samardzija started was April 11 at St. Louis when he allowed a run over six innings. The Cardinals start Lance Lynn (4-2, 3.83). They have lost three of his past four starts, and he has a 6.55 home ERA. He faced the Cubs in Chicago on May 4 and allowed two runs over six innings.
Key trends: The Cardinals are 1-8 in their past four Game 4 of series. The under is 10-2 in Samardzija's past 12. The under is 6-1-2 in Lynn's past nine at home against teams with a losing record. The Cubs are 5-1 in Samardzija's past six vs. St. Louis.
Early lean: Samardzija the biggest underdog on the board!? Jump on that.
Yankees at Mets (-120, 8)
New York officially put CC Sabathia on the disabled list Monday with knee pain, but the good news is that there is no structural damage in that right knee. Sabathia had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in the knee in October 2010 and worried that was the injury again. He has been terrible at 3-4 with 5.28 ERA. Thus that injury-ravaged rotation needs someone Thursday, and it will be Chase Whitley for his big-league debut. He was 3-2 with a 2.39 ERA in seven games this season at Triple-A. He was largely a reliever until this year. The Mets start Dillon Gee (3-1, 2.73). He has had five straight quality starts, with the Mets winning three. Mark Teixeira is 2-for-5 with a homer off him. Brian McCann struggles, going 3-for-18 with four strikeouts.
Key trends: The Yankees are 1-5 in their past six road games against righty starters. The Mets are 4-0 in their past four Game 4s of a series. The under is 8-1 in Gee's past nine Thursday starts.
Early lean: Whitley might keep it close for a few innings, but he's not likely to last too long so take the Mets.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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