Five to Follow MLB Betting: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 5/13/2014
How unbelievably devastating to hear that Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez is likely going to need season-ending Tommy John surgery. Whether you are a fan of the Marlins or not, he was something to watch and the best young pitcher in baseball by a long stretch. I happen to think this news sends the Marlins into a tailspin. They had been a huge surprise this year but now know any chance at playoff contention is gone. It certainly helps the NL East and wild-card chances of Atlanta and Washington.
Indians at Blue Jays (-122, 9.5)
You know who has been a very dominant pitcher rather quietly over his past four starts? That would be Indians right-hander Corey Kluber, who starts in Toronto. Kluber (3-3, 3.48) started the season rather inconsistent, but over his past four starts he has a 1.91 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 28.1 innings. That run started right after an April 19 start against Toronto in which he was hit for nine hits and five runs in 6.2 innings. One Blue Jay that Kluber likely won't have to face this time is outfielder Colby Rasmus (.222, nine home runs). He could be headed to the DL after leaving Monday's game with hamstring tightness. Toronto starts Dustin McGowan (2-1, 4.63). He hasn't faced Cleveland this year and has a 9.26 ERA in 11.2 home innings.
Key trends: Cleveland is 1-7 in Kluber's past eight against the AL East. The Blue Jays are 0-4 in McGowan's past four at home.
Early lean: This is the highest total on the board, but I lean "under" because Kluber will hold the Jays in check.
Nationals at Diamondbacks (-112, 8.5)
Somewhat predictably, Washington's Doug Fister was rusty in making his season debut last week in Oakland, allowing seven runs and nine hits -- three home runs -- over 4.1 innings. in an 8-0 loss. I expect he's much sharper in this one. Not many Diamondbacks have ever faced him. Arizona starts Brandon McCarthy (1-6, 5.66), and looking at his numbers I'm stunned the Diamondbacks are favored. McCarthy was shelled for seven runs in 3.1 innings last time out by the White Sox. Being home won't help much as his ERA there is 5.47 this year. Not many Nationals have seen him, and Washington remains without two of its biggest left-handed bats in Adam LaRoche, who went on the DL a couple of days ago, and Bryce Harper.
Key trends: The Diamondbacks are 1-8 in McCarthy's past nine starts vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 4-1 in his past five home starts.
Early lean: Nats are great dog value here.
Yankees at Mets (+162, 7)
Here I am talking about Masahiro Tanaka again -- is this finally the start he loses for the first time in two years? Tanaka (5-0, 2.57) gets his first taste of the Subway Series. He has dominated his two starts against NL clubs so far, allowing just two runs and nine hits while striking out 17 in 14.1 innings. The Mets start Rafael Montero in his big-league debut. He is taking the spot of Jenrry Mejia, who was demoted to the bullpen. He was 4-1 with a 3.67 ERA at Triple-A this season. Montero won't have to face Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran (.234, five home runs, 15 RBIs). He has an elbow issue, and the team is awaiting MRI results.
Key trends: The Yankees are 1-5 in their past six road games against right-handed starters. The Mets are 1-5 in their past six against a righty starter.
Early lean: The Mets are the biggest home dogs on the board by far. I'd roll the dice. Montero is one of the team's top pitching prospects, and the Mets have played the Yankees tough of late.
Padres at Reds (-163, 7)
Now that Fernandez is done for the season, the NL Cy Young race really opens up, and I still say that Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto is your leader in the clubhouse. Cueto (3-2, 1.43) has opened the season allowing two or fewer runs while going at least seven innings in all of them. He shut down the hot-hitting Rockies last time out (which I predicted). Cueto is tied with Fernando Valenzuela (1981) for the longest streak of starts to begin a season with at least seven innings and two or fewer runs allowed. Fernando was your Cy Young winner that year. San Diego starts Ian Kennedy (2-4, 3.12). He had arguably his best start of the year last time out, striking out 12 Marlins and allowing a run over seven innings. Joey Votto is a career .375 hitter off him.
Key trends: The Reds are 7-1 in Cueto's past eight against the NL West. The under is 9-1-1 in San Diego's past 11 road games against righty starters. The under has hit in five of Cueto's past seven starts.
Early lean: How did this total not open at 6.5? Go under.
Rangers at Astros (-105, 9)
While it seems nearly every team in the majors has seen a key pitcher go down with Tommy John surgery this season, the Texas Rangers appear to have dodged a major bullet on lefty Martin Perez. He left Saturday's start early with elbow discomfort, but an MRI apparently revealed no serious ligament damage. Perez will miss at least one start, so the Rangers are turning to Nick Tepesch for this game against Houston. Technically this would be Yu Darvish's time to start, but he's being pushed back to Friday after throwing 126 pitches in his last start. Tepesch was 4-6 with a 4.84 ERA for Texas as a rookie last year and was 5-1 with a 1.58 ERA in seven starts in Triple-A this year. Astros catcher Jason Castro is 3-for-6 with a home run off him. Houston starts former Ranger Scott Feldman (2-1, 1.93). He pitched in Texas on April 11 and blanked the Rangers on two hits over seven innings. Of course, the offensively-putrid Astros lost 1-0. Alex Rios is a career .289 hitter off Feldman with six extra-base hits, including two home runs.
Key trends: The Astros have lost five straight Wednesday games. The under is 4-1 in Feldman's past five starts.
I guess I understand why this opened as a "pick'em" because Feldman has been good and who knows what Tepesch brings. But I'll take Texas all day, every day
as a "pick'em" against Houston.
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