Five to Follow MLB Betting: Wednesday April 2, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 4/1/2014
Detroit's Max Scherzer begins his quest to join Denny McLain as the only Tigers pitchers with two Cy Young Awards when Scherzer takes the bump for Wednesday's matinee against Kansas City. Here are five interesting matchups from Wednesday's schedule.
Royals at Tigers (-180, 8)
Will Scherzer regret turning down the huge extension the Tigers offered him this spring? Reportedly he was offered a six-year, $144 million deal yet said no. Must be nice. It seems like Scherzer won't be a Tiger next year now that Detroit extended Miguel Cabrera at nearly $300 million. If for some reason the Tigers struggle, don't be shocked if Scherzer is made available at the trade deadline. He was 3-0 with a 3.33 ERA last year against Kansas City. Detroit opened the season with a 4-3 win on Monday over the Royals. Alex Gonzalez, who was acquired on the eve of the season after the Tigers lost shortstop Jose Iglesias likely for the year, had the game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. K.C. blew a 3-1 seventh-inning lead. It was 67-6 last year when leading by two or more runs at any point from the seventh inning on. Lefty Jason Vargas makes his Royals debut in this one. He didn't face Detroit last year while with the Angels. Miguel Cabrera is 3-or-8 with a homer off him.
Key trends: Tigers are 8-0 in Scherzer's past eight against Kansas City. Detroit is 7-1 in its past eight against a lefty starter.
Early lean: It's possible that Scherzer is still a bit distracted by all this contract business. I'd take a shot on the Royals at the nice price of +170 because of that.
Nationals at Mets (+132, 7)
It was almost an utterly disastrous season opener for the Nationals. They beat the Mets 9-7 in 10 innings but lost catcher Wilson Ramos to a hand injury. X-rays after the game were negative, but he will see a specialist on Tuesday. The Washington Post is reporting there is a fracture. Ramos is a very good hitter, batting .272 with 16 homers and 59 RBIs in only 78 games last year. Ramos just can't seem to stay healthy. In addition, Washington's Bryce Harper was kicked in the forehead while trying to break up a double play, but he stayed in the game and concussion tests were negative. New York closer Bobby Parnell blew the save in the ninth inning Monday and was revealed to have partial ligament tear in his pitching elbow after the game. Now Jose Valverde closes. The Mets' Chris Young sat out Monday's game with a minor injury, and Daniel Murphy was with his wife, who was due to give birth. Both should play Wednesday. It's the Mets debut of Bartolo Colon against Washington's Gio Gonzalez. He was 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts against New York in 2013. David Wright is 4-for-13 with a homer in his career of Gonzalez. Colon didn't face Washington as he was in the AL.
Key trends: Washington is 6-0 on Gonzalez's past six starts vs. New York. The Mets are 3-12 in their past 15 against a lefty starter.
Early lean: Gonzalez should keep the Mets at bay in an easy win. Like the runline (Nationals +110) and "under" as well.
Blue Jays at Rays (-160, 7.5)
I would have liked Tampa Bay here behind Matt Moore regardless -- I can see him winning the Cy Young this season if Moore can cut down on the walks -- but I do even more now that Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes won't play. Does this sound already like last season, Blue Jays fans? Reyes lasted all of a half-inning in Monday's loss in St. Petersburg, leaving with a tight left hamstring. He was questionable for the game as it was. Now he's back on the disabled list. Reyes was limited to 93 games a season ago because of injuries. Moore, meanwhile, was 3-0 against the Jays last year with a 3.31 ERA. Toronto starter Mark Buehrle was 0-2 with a 5.76 ERA vs. Tampa. Evan Longoria is a career .320 hitter off him with a homer and five RBIs in 25 at-bats.
Key trends: Blue Jays are 2-6 in Buehrle's past eight starts against teams with a winning record. Rays are 10-1 in Moore's past 11 against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Easy Rays call here. I'd take them on the runline (+135) too.
Rockies at Marlins (-110, 7.5)
We all know that Cincinnati's Johnny Vander Meer is the only pitcher in big-league history to throw consecutive no-hitters. So here's my question: Will it count as the same if Miami's Henderson Alvarez throws a no-no against Colorado on Wednesday? Alvarez no-hit the Tigers on the final day of the 2013 season, a game memorably won by Miami on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth. Alvarez was in the on-deck circle when that happened. It was the first no-hitter to ever end on a wild pitch and was the first walk-off complete-game no-hitter since the Tigers' Virgil Trucks on May 15, 1952, against Washington. Alvarez didn't face Colorado last year, and no current Rockie has faced him in a regular-season game. Colorado starts righty Jordan Lyles. He was part of the Dexter Fowler trade this offseason with Houston. He's only starting because the scheduled starter, Tyler Chatwood, started the year on the DL. Consider a wager on Miami's Garrett Jones in this one. He's 7-for-14 with two homers in his career of Lyles.
Key trends: The Rockies are 6-16 in their past 22 against righty starters. Miami is 3-8 in Alvarez's past 11 starts.
Early lean: Don't expect a no-hitter, but I do think Alvarez is much better than Lyles so have to lean the Fish.
Cardinals at Reds (+106, 7.5)
St. Louis pitcher Michael Wacha was arguably the breakout star of the 2013 playoffs, and he makes his season debut here. Will there be a sophomore slump? Not if Wacha's spring stats are any indication. He had a 1.77 ERA in 20.1 innings. The Reds offense couldn't do anything against Adam Wainwright in Monday's opener. Billy Hamilton, who is replacing Shin-Soo Choo atop the lineup, was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts -- the dreaded golden sombrero. The guy is a stolen base machine, but he might not be ready to hit in the majors. The Reds are going to struggle if he does. Wacha pitched 10 shutouts inning against the Reds in 2013, striking out 10 and allowing only six hits. Cincinnati counters with young lefty Tony Cingrani. He had a 4.81 ERA this spring. Cingrani was 2-0 with a 4.35 ERA in two starts against St. Louis last year.
Key trends: The Cardinals are 0-4 in their past four against a lefty starter. Cincinnati is 0-6 in its past six home games.
Early lean: Reds don't want to start 0-2 at home. They win a tight, low-scoring one.
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