Five to Follow MLB Betting: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 4/8/2014
The New York Yankees had to be thrilled with Masahiro Tanaka's big-league debut last week in Toronto. He passed that first test and now has another one in his first-ever start at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Here's a look at five interesting matchups on the schedule.
Rays at Royals (+106, 8.5)
A lot of people thought the Kansas City Royals were going to be a playoff team in 2014 -- for the first time since 1985 -- and be the primary challenger to the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. K.C. is the second-favorite there at +450 on Sportsbook.ag . I wasn't all that sold. The Royals lost Ervin Santana this offseason and replaced him with Jason Vargas. That's a downgrade. And the only other major move the Royals made was giving $30 million to second baseman Omar Infante. Alas, he's now going to be out a while after getting beaned in the face in Monday's win against Tampa Bay. Kansas City wasn't exactly lighting it up offensively as it was. Infante was hitting .348. Wednesday's matchup is a getaway day game for both sides after playing Tuesday night. So keep an eye on which regulars could sit. Might Royals catcher Salvador Perez? He leads the team with a .444 average. The Royals, by the way, enter Tuesday as the only team yet to homer. One of their former top pitching prospects, Jake Odirizzi (1-0, 0.00), starts for Tampa Bay. He's opposed by Jeremy Guthrie (1-0, 6.35).
Key trends: The Royals are 0-4 in Guthrie's past four Game 3s of a series. The "over" is 7-3-1 in Guthrie's past 11 home starts.
Early lean: Like K.C. as a home dog.
Orioles at Yankees (-171, 8.5)
It's starting to look a little like 2013 already for the Yankees in terms of injuries. Mark Teixeira barely played last year, and he's already on the disabled list. It's fair to question if he ever will be the same player (answer: no). Closer David Robertson has just joined Teixeira on the DL. He had two saves and hadn't given up a run in three innings. The team is expected to go closer by committee, with Shawn Kelley getting the save in Monday's win over Baltimore. As for Tanaka, he allowed a home run to the first Toronto hitter he faced last week and then two more runs in the second inning but nothing after over seven innings total. The Orioles start right-hander Miguel Gonzalez. He was bombed in Detroit in his 2014 debut, allowing nine hits (two homers) and seven runs in 3.1 innings. Alfonso Soriano likes facing Gonzalez as he's 2-for-5 with two homers off him. Maybe Ichiro gets a spot start. He has two homers in 16 at-bats off Gonzalez.
Key trends: The Orioles are 0-6 in Gonzalez's past six starts against teams with a winning record. Baltimore is 1-5 in his past six against the Yankees.
Early lean: Yanks should shell Gonzalez, so I lean over.
Marlins at Nationals (-177, 7.5)
So which team leads the major leagues in runs entering Tuesday's action? The Miami Marlins, largely the same group that scored a pitiful 513 runs a season ago, by far the worst in MLB. Obviously it's way too early to think the Marlins could actually be a .500 team this season, much less contend. They do have some very nice young pieces, however. All those runs scored came at home and against iffy pitching staffs in Colorado and San Diego. One would think Washington's staff would be a much bigger challenge. That may not be the case on Wednesday as Tanner Roark goes for the Nats. He was solid in his first outing, allowing two runs and six hits over six innings at the Mets. He pitched three times against Miami last year as a rookie, once as a starter, and didn't allow a run in nine innings. The Marlins start young right-hander Jacob Turner. He allowed five runs over six innings in his first start against the Rockies. Bryce Harper has struggled this season, but I like him to homer in this one. Harper is 4-for-9 with two dingers off Turner. Ryan Zimmerman has two homers in 12 at-bats against him.
Key trends: The Marlins are 1-8 in Turner's past nine road starts. The over is 4-0 in his past four starts against Washington.
Early lean: Those trends say it all.
Brewers at Phillies (+110, 8)
I was on the Brewers' bandwagon to be a potential playoff team partly because of the addition of free-agent pitcher Matt Garza, and he did nothing to change my mind in his first start as a Brewer. Garza didn't win but allowed just one run and two hits in eight innings against Atlanta, striking out seven. Garza is a different pitcher against those weaker NL lineups. He didn't face the Phillies last season with the Cubs/Rangers. Marlon Byrd has two homers and seven RBIs off Garza in 16 at-bats. Ryan Howard is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts, but he will be in there against the right-hander. Philadelphia starts Roberto Hernandez, the former Fausto Carmona. He allowed two runs and three hits over 5.1 innings at the Cubs in his opener. He didn't face the Brewers last year. Only a few Brewers have ever faced him. Lyle Overbay, who starts at first against right-handed pitchers, has the most, going 3-for-16 with two RBIs.
Key trends: The Brewers are 6-1 in their past seven games against right-handed starters. The Phillies are 3-9 in their past 12 against a righty.
Early lean: Good road value here even with the Brewers a slight favorite at -120.
Mets at Braves (-144, 7.5)
The Atlanta Braves were devastated this spring in the rotation as their two top projected starters, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, were lost to season-ending Tommy John surgeries. Atlanta was lucky enough that Ervin Santana was still on the market, although he reportedly had verbally agreed to a deal with Toronto. However, the Braves swooped in, and Santana chose them on a one-year deal because he figured to have better numbers in the National League and because Atlanta is better than Toronto. Santana makes his first start Wednesday. He was 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA in Kansas City last year. Santana did face the Mets last year in interleague play, allowing one run and five hits over six innings in a victory. Curtis Granderson loves facing this guy as Granderson is 11-for-40 with five home runs and nine RBIs. He's off to a slow start this year. New York starts one of its young prized pitchers in Zack Wheeler. He allowed three runs over six innings in a loss against Washington in his first start. Wheeler was 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA in three 2013 starts against the Braves. Freddie Freeman is 4-for-6 with a homer off him.
Key trends: New York is 6-1 in Wheeler's past seven road starts. The under is 7-2 in Atlanta's past nine Game 2s of a series.
Early lean: Santana signed so late that he might not really be ready yet. Take New York.
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