Five to Follow MLB Betting: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 5/19/2014
The Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka has been otherworldly so far this season and might not just win AL Rookie of the Year honors but also be that league's Cy Young winner if he pitches the rest of the way like he has thus far. Yet Tanaka isn't even the most dominant pitcher going Tuesday night. That honor goes to Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto, who is on a run we haven't seen in more than 100 years. Here's a look at five interesting matchups on the schedule.
Reds at Nationals (+105, 6.5)
The Reds don't look like a playoff team right now, but that's no fault of Cueto (4-2, 1.25). He threw a complete-game three-hitter against San Diego last time out for his third complete game already. He is the first pitcher to go at least seven innings and allow two or fewer runs in each of his first nine starts since the Philadelphia Athletics' Harry Krause in 1909. Since ERA became an official statistic around 100 years ago, Cueto, the Indians' Luis Tiant in 1968 and the Dodgers' Don Sutton in 1972 are the only three pitchers with an ERA below 1.50 and an opponents' batting average below .150 through the first nine starts of a season. This is Cueto's first start this year against Washington. The Nats start Doug Fister (0-1, 4.76). He wasn't good in his 2014 debut in Oakland but was very good on May 14 in Arizona (a victory I projected). Only a few Reds have ever faced Fister, in his first National League season.
Key trends: The Reds are 2-5 in Cueto's past seven road starts. Washington is 5-1 in its past six games against pitchers with a WHIP of less than 1.15. The "under" is 7-1 in Cueto's past eight Tuesday starts.
Early lean: Even at the small number, I lean under.
White Sox at Royals (-180, 7.5)
Go ahead and bet against the White Sox for the next two weeks at least -- unless Chris Sale is pitching perhaps -- with Jose Abreu landing on the 15-day disabled list Sunday due to ankle issues. Abreu, who still leads the majors with 15 home runs and is tops in the AL with 42 RBIs, was the first AL player ever to win the league's Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month awards in his first month in the majors back in April. The Sox simply aren't the same without him. It means Paul Konerko gets to play every day until Abreu is back. Andre Rienzo (3-0, 4.20) starts for Chicago on Tuesday. You usually know what you will get with him: around five innings and three runs allowed. The Royals start flame-throwing rookie Yordano Ventura (2-3, 2.40). He has had three straight quality starts, but the Royals have lost them all. Chicago's Marcus Semien is 2-for-2 with a homer off him.
Key trends: The White Sox are 4-0 in Rienzo's past four road starts. The Royals have won five straight Tuesday games. The under is 4-1 in Ventura's past five.
Early lean: Ventura will dominate the Pale Hose. Take the Royals on the runline at +115 as well.
Blue Jays at Red Sox (-140, 9.5)
The Boston Red Sox surely didn't look like a team capable of repeating as World Series champions this season when they were swept convincingly at home by the scorching-hot Detroit Tigers over the weekend. The Sox have lost four straight overall, totaling six runs. Boston looks to get right against Toronto lefty J.A. Happ (2-1, 3.57). This is only his second road start of the year, and he blanked the Phillies over five innings in his other one. Dustin Pedroia is 3-for-7 with a double off him. The Sox counter with lefty Felix Doubront (2-3, 4.54). He has a 5.40 ERA at Fenway this year. Boston has won his past two starts overall. Jose Bautista had three hits in 14 at-bats off him, all solo homers.
Key trends: Toronto is 8-1 in its past nine Tuesday games. The Sox are 5-2 in Doubront's past seven on Tuesday. The under is 8-0 in Boston's past eight at home.
Early lean: This ties for the highest opening total on the board. The Boston offense gets well against Happ.
Brewers at Braves (-150, 6.5)
It's a matchup of division leaders on Tuesday in Atlanta -- I don't happen to think either Atlanta or Milwaukee wins its respective division, but I did like the Brewers as a wild-card team before the season. Milwaukee starts ace Yovani Gallardo (2-2, 3.07). He pitched the season opener at home against Atlanta, blanking the Braves over six innings. He has been very shaky in three May starts with an ERA of 5.50. Atlanta starts Julio Teheran (2-3, 2.20). He had been dominant until getting hit for five runs in seven innings over 3.1 innings last time out against San Francisco. He also pitched in that season opener, allowing two Brewers runs over six innings. Brew Crew shortstop Jean Segura is 3-for-5 with a home run against him.
Key trends: The Brewers are 7-2 in Gallardo's past nine road starts. The Braves are 5-1 in Teheran's past six at home. The under is 6-0 in the past six meetings entering Monday.
Early lean: Teheran's the better pitcher right now.
Yankees at Cubs (+155, TBA)
So here's my question: Do the Cubs have to get Derek Jeter some sort of going-away present even though he's only played at Wrigley Field a few times in his career? Cubs fans don't have much positive to think about this season, and it has to hurt double to see Tanaka take the mound Tuesday as the Cubs were runners-up to the Yankees in the bidding for him. Now he'd probably fetch $205 million, not $155 million. Tanaka (6-0, 2.17) threw his first complete-game shutout last time out at the Mets. He utterly dominated the Cubs on April 16 at Yankee Stadium, blanking them over eight innings on two hits -- both bunts. Chicago starts Jason Hammel (4-2, 3.06), who is turning into a solid trade chip. He was opposite Tanaka in that April game, allowing three runs over seven innings. New York's Kelly Johnson might get a start here as he's 9-for-30 with two home runs and six RBIs career off Hammel.
Key trends: The Yankees are 2-5 in their past seven series openers. Chicago is 1-6 in its past seven interleague games. The under is 4-1 in the cubs' past five at home.
The Cubs are the first team to see Tanaka for a second time. I'm rolling the dice on them. Certainly like the under, which I'm guessing will be seven once
the wind conditions are figured out at Wrigley.
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