Five to Follow MLB Betting: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 7/7/2014
Say what you want about interleague play, but it at least occasionally gives us a possible glimpse at a World Series matchup. That's the case Tuesday when the Dodgers begin a two-game series in Detroit. The Dodgers are the +200 favorites at Sportsbook.ag to win the NL pennant, while the Tigers had been AL favorites most of the year but have been passed by Oakland in the wake of the stunning trade the A's made over the weekend (more on that later this week). Here's a look at the Dodgers-Tigers matchup and four other interesting games.
Dodgers at Tigers (-121, 8.5)
Unfortunately we don't get to see Clayton Kershaw face either Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer in a matchup of Cy Young winners in this series. Verlander (7-7, 4.71) goes Tuesday for Detroit, and he paid off for us nicely last time out against Oakland, allowing two runs over six innings in the victory. However, the Tigers haven't won back-to-back Verlander starts since April. Only a few Dodgers have faced him, none with much success. Adrian Gonzalez is 2-for-14 with three strikeouts. Lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-4, 3.08) starts for L.A. The Dodgers have lost his past two starts even though they've been quality outings. He is 6-1 with a 1.62 ERA on the road this season. No Tiger has ever faced him.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 7-1 in their past eight interleague starts against right-handed starters. Detroit is 6-1 in its past seven interleague games against lefties. The "over" is 5-0 in Detroit's past five.
Early lean: This total should be a run lower, so jump on the "under" at -105.
Blue Jays at Angels (-143, 8)
Looking for the next team to make a big trade? I'd put money down if such a prop existed on the Toronto Blue Jays acquiring third baseman Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres. The Jays are going all-in to win the AL East this season (they were heavy after the Cubs' Jason Hammel), and now they need a bat after losing AL MVP candidate Edwin Encarnacion for 2-4 weeks with a strained quadriceps, a huge blow. He's hitting .277 with 26 home runs and 70 RBIs. Toronto might expand the deal to get a Padres starting pitcher as well. R.A. Dickey starts for them Tuesday in Anaheim. Dickey (6-8, 4.10) hasn't gotten a win since June 4. He's 1-6 with a 4.41 ERA on the road this season. It's lefty Tyler Skaggs (4-4, 4.16) for the Halos. They have lost his past four starts. He just returned from a month or so on the DL last time out, allowing two runs in 7.2 innings against the White Sox. Skaggs pitched in Toronto on May 10, allowing two earned and four hits in eight innings, one of his better starts of the season.
Key trends: The Jays have lost seven straight against lefties. The Angels are 11-1 in their past 12 at home against right-handers.
Early lean: Toronto clearly struggles against lefties as it is, and now the Jays' biggest right-handed bat is out. Take the Angels at +155 on the runline.
Royals at Rays (+105, 7.5)
I said on Friday that the Rays might start a sell off if they were swept over the weekend in Detroit, but they won three of four and have won 10 of 12 overall. Now they might keep David Price, especially as they get a key rotation piece back Tuesday in Jeremy Hellickson. He made six minor-league rehab starts off January elbow surgery. His return moves Erik Bedard to the bullpen. Hellickson struggled last season with a 5.17 ERA but was excellent in his two-plus seasons before that, winning the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year Award. Billy Butler is a career .643 hitter off him in 14 at-bats. Lefty Jason Vargas starts for Toronto. Vargas (8-3, 3.32) blanked the Twins over seven innings last time out. He faced the Rays on April 7 and allowed just a run and four hits over eight innings. Ben Zobrist is 11-for-26 with a homer and six RBIs off him.
Key trends: The Royals have lost five straight Game 2s of a series. Tampa is 5-1 in its past six against lefties.
Early lean: Rays are nice value as a home dog here.
Cubs at Reds, Game 1 (-215, 7)
You have to love those random mid-week afternoon games, and the opener of a doubleheader in Cincinnati is just that. The Reds are the biggest favorites on the board by far behind All-Star Johnny Cueto. He might not pitch in the game, however, because he's scheduled to start on Sunday as well. Too bad as Cueto (8-6, 1.99) might be in line to be the NL starter as he leads the league in innings and WHIP and is No. 2 in ERA and strikeouts. Cueto lost last time out, allowing three runs and seven hits over seven innings in San Diego. He hasn't faced the Cubs this season. Anthony Rizzo struggles against him, going 1-for-12. All-Star Starlin Castro is 7-for-30 off Cueto. No current Cub has even gone yard off him. Former Red Travis Wood, perhaps the best-hitting pitcher in baseball, starts for the Cubs. Wood (7-6, 4.62) lasted just 3.2 innings last time out against Boston. He has a 6.16 ERA in nine road starts. One guy he won't have to worry about is Joey Votto, who appears headed for the DL with a strained left quad.
Key trends: The Cubs are 5-1 in Wood's past six road starts. The over is 6-2 in his past eight on the road. The under is 4-0 in Wood's past four against the Reds.
Early lean: Wood can keep this close -- I'd go Cubs at -110 on the runline as they will lose by just one.
Giants at A's (-128, 6.5)
Here's another potential World Series matchup, although I don't have a lot of faith in the Giants unless they make a deal or two. Should San Francisco have a lead in the top of the ninth, the team's new closer is Santiago Casilla, so says Manager Bruce Bochy. He replaces the recently demoted Sergio Romo. Casilla has a terrific 1.08 ERA and three saves. He hasn't allowed an earned run since mid-May. Lefty Madison Bumgarner starts for the Giants. Bumgarner (9-6, 3.09) has been off his past two starts, allowing five runs in each, both losses. Sonny Gray starts for Oakland. Gray (8-3, 3.08) held the Blue Jays to a run over seven innings last time out, the third straight of his starts that Oakland has won. Gray has never faced the Giants.
Key trends: The Giants are 0-5 in Bumgarner's past five Tuesday starts. The A's are 8-2 in their past 10 against a lefty.
Early lean: I'd bet on Oakland all week as the players are going to be pretty jacked up about that big trade.
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