Five to Follow MLB Betting: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 6/25/2014
The chances of the St. Louis Cardinals winning the NL Central again this season took a major hit when the team put starting pitchers Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia on the disabled list Sunday. Wacha is the big blow as he's one of the top young pitchers in baseball and was terrific in last year's playoffs. There's no timetable for his return. But here's the difference between St. Louis and just about every other franchise: The Cards can simply plug in another young rising pitcher and perhaps not miss a beat. One of those gets his major-league debut Wednesday. Here's a look at that matchup and four others on the schedule.
Cardinals at Rockies (+101, 11)
St. Louis doesn't panic and trade its prospects, it just fills from within. Marco Gonzales gets the call on Wednesday at Coors Field, and he's a Colorado native, so he will be even more jacked up. The lefty, the team's first-round pick in 2013, was scheduled to start the Double-A Texas League All-Star Game on Tuesday, but I'm guessing he won't mind missing that. Gonzales is from Fort Collins and his father is the pitching coach for the Rockies' short-season Class A affiliate. Gonzales had a 2.33 ERA this season with Double-A Springfield. He is the only Colorado high school pitcher to be the winning pitcher in four state championship games (2007-10). The Rockies were supposed to start Christian Bergman, but he had to be placed on the DL on Tuesday with a broken hand. Thus, lefty Yohan Flande, 28, makes his big-league debut and is the 12th starting pitcher the injury-ravaged Rockies have used this season, the most in the majors. Flande was just 2-9 with a 4.42 ERA in Triple-A this year.
Key trends: The Cardinals are 4-10 in their past four Wednesday games. Colorado is 1-5 in its past six Wednesday games.
Early lean: I'll never recommend "over" an 11 total, even at Coors Field and two guys making their debuts. So take "under" at -125.
Tigers at Rangers (+124, 9)
I'm not sure why the Tigers haven't put outfielder Torii Hunter on the disabled list retroactive to a week ago. He hasn't played since June 16 due to a hamstring injury. The Tigers haven't missed him too much with J.D. Martinez hitting well, but wouldn't they like the roster spot? Detroit starts currently its best pitcher in Anibal Sanchez (4-2, 2.33). He is 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in six starts since returning from the DL. Sanchez allowed two runs and five hits to the Rangers on May 23 in a victory. Texas is in such bad shape at first base it's now going to use recently-signed Carlos Pena there. Lefty Joe Saunders gets the call for Texas. Saunders (0-3, 4.11) allowed a season-high seven runs (four earned) last time out against the Angels. He hasn't faced Detroit this year.
Key trends: The Tigers are 8-2 in Sanchez's past 10 Game 2 starts. The "under" is 4-0-1 in his past five on the road against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Saunders shouldn't be a big-league starter at this point. Take Detroit.
Braves at Astros (+106, 8.5)
Lefty Alex Wood could help determine for the Braves whether they have to deal for starting pitching before the July 31 trade deadline. He returns to the rotation on Wednesday, the same day that Gavin Floyd undergoes season-ending elbow surgery. Wood hasn't pitched in the majors since June 8 and hasn't started in the bigs since May 4. He is 2-5 with a 3.00 ERA as a starter this year, and that ERA is skewed by one bad outing in Miami. Wood has never faced Houston. Collin McHugh (4-5, 2.76) goes for the Astros. He has lost two straight starts despite allowing only three earned runs and nine hits over 11 innings.
Key trends: The Braves have lost eight straight Wednesday games. Houston is 2-5 in its past seven interleague games against lefties. The "under" is 4-1 in Wood's past five road starts.
Early lean: Two inconsistent offenses and two pretty good young pitchers. "Under" at -120.
Twins at Angels (-185, 8)
The Halos are by far the biggest favorites on the board Wednesday, and I'm not sure they should be. That's because they will see a guy in Minnesota's Yohan Pino whom they have never faced. Pino had spent 10 years in the minors and dominated this year before getting called up last week. In his big-league debut, he pitched very well, holding the White Sox to two runs and five hits over seven innings while striking out seven. Good for him. The Angels start their ace in Garrett Richards (7-2, 2.79). Yes, he's their ace this year. I suppose you can see why L.A. is such a big favorite as Richards has won four straight starts, allowing a total of two runs over 27 innings. He might be the AL Pitcher of the Month for June. Richards hasn't been as good at home this year, going 3-1 with a 4.05 ERA.
Key trends: The Angels are 7-1 in Richards' past eight against teams with a losing record. The "under" has hit in five of his past six against teams with a losing mark.
Early lean: Richards is rolling and the Halos don't know Pino at all. Take "under."
Reds at Cubs (+115, TBA)
Don't look now, but the Reds are starting to play well and steadily climb in the NL Central, although there's certainly still work to be done. They are doing this despite the fact they have lost the two games that presumed ace Mat Latos (0-0, 3.86) has pitched since debuting June 14 off the disabled list. Latos was good in his first start, blanking the Brewers over six innings, but hit for five runs and nine hits over 5.2 innings last week against Toronto. Latos was 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts last year against the Cubs. No current Chicago player has homered off him. Edwin Jackson (5-7, 5.12) starts for Chicago. He is actually 2-0 against the Reds this year with a 4.76 ERA. Joey Votto is 8-for-21 with three doubles and two homers off Jackson in his career.
Key trends: The Cubs are 1-7 in Jackson's past eight against teams with a winning record. The "over" is 4-0 in his past four against the Reds. Cincy is 4-1 in Latos' past five against Chicago.
Early lean: As usual, no total until the wind conditions are determined at Wrigley. Cincinnati looks like a different team of late, and Jackson is one of the NL's worst pitchers most of the time. Take the Reds.
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