Five to Follow MLB Betting: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 8/6/2014
Some big news out of Pittsburgh on Monday: All-Star center fielder and reigning N.L. MVP Andrew McCutchen could miss up to a month with a severe oblique muscle injury suffered on Sunday. That not only hugely dims the Pirates' chances of returning to the playoffs - they are +275 at Sportsbook.com to win the NL Central - but it also jumbles the NL MVP race even further. Here's a look at Pittsburgh's matchup on Wednesday and four others of interest.
Marlins at Pirates (-137, 7.5)
McCutchen leads the Pirates in just about every offensive category that matters and I don't think there's a more important player to his team in the majors, especially considering Pittsburgh doesn't spend a ton of money. McCutchen leads the NL in batting average (.322) and RBIs (44) since the start of June. He was your NL MVP betting favorite. Now? The guy formerly right behind him, Troy Tulowitzki, is also hurt. This opens it up for Clayton Kershaw or Giancarlo Stanton. Meanwhile, Travis Snider will see an uptick in playing time with McCutchen out. That depleted lineup faces Miami's Tom Koehler on Wednesday. Koehler (7-8, 3.70) has allowed three runs or fewer in four straight starts but has just a win to show for it. It's his first 2014 start vs. Pittsburgh. Lefty Jeff Locke (2-3, 3.77) goes for the Bucs. He has lost back-to-back starts, allowing 12 runs and 19 hits over 11 innings. He pitched well in Miami on June 13, giving up two runs over eight innings. Stanton is 6-for-9 with two homers off him.
Key trends: The Marlins are 1-6 in Koehler's past seven against the NL Central. Pittsburgh is 9-2 in Locke's past 11 at home against teams with a losing record. The "over" is 6-1 in Koehler's past seven road starts.
Early lean: Pittsburgh is going to be a bad bet much more often now without McCutchen. The Pirates are here with a struggling Locke on the mound.
Tigers at Yankees (+131, 8.5)
Now that David Phelps is the latest Yankee starting pitcher on the disabled list, the Bombers really have to hope that reclamation project Chris Capuano can help hold down the fort until Phelps, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka return. If they all do. Capuano has lost both starts in pinstripes, allowing six runs over 12.1 innings. Miguel Cabrera is a career .391 hitter with four homers and eight RBIs against him. The Tigers likely won't have shortstop Eugenio Suarez as he's dealing with a knee injury that forced him out of Monday's game. Suarez is hitting .252 with 13 RBIs and is a good defensive player. Justin Verlander (10-9, 4.66) goes for Detroit. He might be finding his stuff again as Verlander has had three straight quality starts. Mark Teixeira might get the night off as he's just 3-for-31 in his career with 10 strikeouts against Verlander.
Key trends: The Tigers are 1-4 in Verlander's past five vs. the AL East. The under is 6-1 in his past seven road starts against teams with a winning record. Detroit is 0-6 in Verlander's past six at Yankee Stadium.
Early lean: Verlander ends his losing streak in the Bronx.
Mets at Nationals (-164, 7)
Do you remember ever hearing a ballplayer take paternity leave in the 1980s or '90s? I sure don't. The Nats will be without catcher Wilson Ramos until Friday because of paternity leave. Ramos is hitting .295 with four homers and 26 RBIs in an injury-plagued season. Backup Jose Lobaton hits only .209. He will be catching Doug Fister on Wednesday. Fister (10-3, 2.68) has found his groove, allowing three runs or fewer in seven straight starts. Washington is 5-2 in those. Fister hasn't faced the Mets this year. It's southpaw Jon Niese (5-7, 3.24) for New York. He hasn't been super sharp since returning from a DL stint with a 4.74 ERA in three starts, all Mets losses. Washington's Adam LaRoche has two dingers and six RBIs off him in 15 at-bats.
Key trends: The Mets are 1-6 in Niese's past seven starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Nats are 4-1 in their past five at home against lefties. The Mets are 1-4 in Niese's past five in Washington.
Early lean: The way Fister is going, take Washington at +135 on the runline.
Red Sox at Cardinals (-155, 8)
While John Lackey won't face his former Red Sox teammates in this series, Joe Kelly, who came over in that trade with Allen Craig from St. Louis, will face his former mates on Wednesday. Kelly (2-2, 4.37) was shaky in his final two Cardinals outings but is 9-7 with a 2.90 ERA all time at Busch Stadium. The Cards' Shelby Miller (8-8, 4.14) looks to personally win consecutive starts for the first time since mid-May. He beat the Padres last time out, allowing two runs - both solo homers - over six innings. Miller has never faced Boston. He won't be facing Craig as Craig has landed list due to an ankle injury. He hasn't played since Aug. 1.
Key trends: St. Louis is 1-5 in Miller's past six at home. The over is 4-0 in his past four overall. Boston is 1-8 in its past nine vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: The Sox are going to be in a nosedive for a while. Back the Cards at +145 on the runline. They at least know Kelly's stuff.
Astros at Phillies (-122, 8.5)
The Astros could get one of their young stars back on Wednesday, as George Springer is eligible to be activated off the disabled list. Actually he was eligible Tuesday but expected to play at least one more rehab game in the minors. Springer (.231, 20 homers, 51 RBIs) has been out since July 19 with a quadriceps injury. If Springer is activated he will face the Phillies' Brian Buchanan (5-5, 4.40). Buchanan has had back-to-back quality starts, but this will be his first in the majors since July 10. He is replacing the injured Cliff Lee in the rotation and has never faced Houston. Astros starter Brad Peacock (3-7, 4.93) has been terrible of late. Last time out he allowed seven runs (three homers) in just 3.2 innings of a loss in Oakland. Before that he managed to pitch just a third of an inning in a loss to Boston. He's back in the rotation with the trade of Jarred Cosart to Miami.
Key trends: Houston is 1-6 in its past seven interleague road games entering Tuesday. The Phillies are 2-7 in their past nine interleague home games against teams with a losing record entering Tuesday.
Early lean: Two pretty mediocre pitchers here to go over at -120.
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