Five to Follow MLB Betting: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 4/14/2014
We will call Tuesday's interleague matchup between the Cubs and Yankees the Masahiro Tanaka Bowl. They were the two most aggressive bidders for the Japanese star, with the Yankees trumping the Cubs bid by about $30 million while also including a no-trade clause, something that Cubs boss Theo Epstein doesn't believe in.
Cubs at Yankees (-206, 8)
Chicago is stacked with talented hitters in the minors but is thin in pitching prospects, so it made sense for the Cubs to go all out for Tanaka even though they aren't likely to be contenders until 2016. When it lost out on him, Chicago's backup plan was to sign former Oriole Jason Hammel. Essentially the team is hoping to flip him near the deadline for prospects like it did in previous years with guys like Scott Feldman and Paul Maholm. So far Hammel (2-0, 2.63) has been terrific, although he has yet to face a team other than Pittsburgh. He was 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA in three starts against New York last year. Kelly Johnson is 8-for-26 with two homers off Hammel. Alfonso Soriano faces the Cubs for the first time since he was dealt to New York last season. He's got a homer in nine at-bats off Hammel. Tanaka (1-0, 3.21) has gone seven innings in both his starts and has struck out 18. Of course he hasn't faced the Cubs.
Key trends: Chicago is 1-8 in its past nine series openers. The under is 7-1 in the Yankees' past eight series openers.
Early lean: Tanaka gets his first shutout.
Indians at Tigers (-167, 8)
Cleveland would have won the AL Central last year if it had a bit more success against Detroit, but the Tigers dominated with 15 wins in 19 matchups in taking the division by a game. This is the teams' first meeting this season. The Tribe have lost four of five and were beaten on a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth at the White Sox on Sunday. Closer John Axford had been good before that. Cleveland is expected to activate outfielder Michael Bourn (hamstring) from the disabled list before this game, and he should start and bat leadoff. Cleveland starts right-hander Zach McAllister (1-0, 2.31). He was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in three 2013 starts against Detroit. Victor Martinez is 5-for-9 with three doubles and five RBIs off him. The Tigers go with Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 3.00). He was 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts against the Tribe a season ago. Bourn is 8-for-27 with four RBIs off Sanchez.
Key trends: The Indians are 6-1 in McAllister's past seven road starts. The over is 8-2-2 in Detroit's past 12 at home against right-handed starters.
Early lean: Bourn sparks the Indians to an upset.
Mariners at Rangers (-150, 9)
The Texas Rangers have been terribly unlucky injury-wise this season, so it probably has to be considered good news that star third baseman Adrian Beltre only has a fairly minor strained quadriceps muscle and should be able to return on April 25. He suffered the strain last Tuesday and hadn't played since, but the team waited to put Beltre on the DL until Sunday. Beltre is hitting .286 this season with four RBIs. He was the cleanup hitter, but manager Ron Washington has altered things in his place. Kevin Kouzmanoff has taken his place at third base and has been hitting fifth. Alex Rios has moved to No. 3 and Prince Fielder to cleanup. The Rangers start Robbie Ross (0-0, 1.74) on Tuesday against Seattle. Kyle Seager has a homer in eight at-bats off Ross. The Mariners go with Blake Beavan, who will be called up from Triple-A. The M's need a starter with James Paxton on the DL. Rios is 3-for-8 with a homer off Beavan. Beltre really killed him (.444, two homers).
Key trends: The Mariners are 6-1 in their past seven against lefty starters. Texas is 1-7 in its past eight home games against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Take a shot on Seattle since it won't have to worry about Beltre.
Nationals at Marlins (+172, 7)
Washington had about the worst weekend possible, getting swept three games in Atlanta and seeing third baseman Ryan Zimmerman land on the disabled list with a broken thumb suffered on Saturday. He will miss 4-6 weeks. Anthony Rendon will start at third, with Danny Espinosa taking over at second. In addition, outfielder Denard Span was placed on the seven-day concussion list on Saturday. Stephen Strasburg (1-1, 4.24) gets the call on Tuesday against the struggling Marlins. It's starting to look like Strasburg will never live up to the hype he had coming out of college. He's a good pitcher but not Tom Seaver. He faced the Marlins on Thursday, allowing a run and striking out 12 in 6.2 innings. Giancarlo Stanton is 8-for-24 with two homers and nine strikeouts off Strasburg. Miami goes with Tom Koehler (1-1, 3.00). He was the losing pitcher opposite Strasburg last time out, allowing two runs in six innings. Jayson Werth is 3-for-8 with two home runs off Koehler.
Key trends: The Marlins are 2-7 in Koehler's past nine starts against teams with a winning record. The Nats are 4-0 in Strasburg's past four starts against Miami.
Early lean: Strasburg generally owns the Fish. Huge on the under.
Dodgers at Giants (-108, 7.5)
Did you perhaps drop some long-shot money on the Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez to win NL MVP? He's off to a great start, ranking first in the NL in runs (11), second in home runs (five) and third in RBIs (14). In the past seven games, he has a slugging percentage of.931 and has hit home runs in four straight games, one shy of the franchise record. Gonzalez hasn't had much success against Tuesday's Giants starter, Tim Lincecum. A-Gone is 11-for-52 with 16 strikeouts and no home runs in his career against Lincecum (0-1, 9.90). He's likely happy to be done with Arizona as the Snakes roughed him up in two starts against them to start this season. Josh Beckett (0-0, 9.00) is scheduled for Los Angeles. He lasted only four innings in his season debut against Detroit. Hunter Pence is a career .412 hitter with a homer off Beckett.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 1-6 in Beckett's past seven series openers. The under has hit in seven of Lincecum's past 10 starts against L.A.
Early lean: Anytime you can get the Dodgers as a dog this year it's probably worth taking.
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