Could be a long season in Tampa Bay. The Rays have some good young pitching, but a couple of them remain out with injuries. It's the offense that looks to be a problem, and the team is going to struggle even more to score for the next two weeks or so. The Rays are expected to put their primary designated hitter John Jaso on the disabled list perhaps on Thursday. He injured his wrist on head-first slide into second base during Monday's season opener, but it's not overly serious. The team did put first baseman James Loney on the DL on Wednesday with an upper-body injury. Upper-body injury? Is this hockey? Here are five interesting games on Friday.
Tigers at Indians (-106, 8.5)
Most expect the Tigers and Indians to be the top two teams in the AL Central, although I still like the White Sox to make some noise. This is the home opener for the Tribe after finishing a series in Houston on Thursday. New Tiger Alfredo Simon gets his first start, and he was great in the first half last season with Cincinnati, named to the All-Star team, and terrible after. I'm pretty confident he's more the second-half guy as Simon also was bombed in spring training. Simon did face the Tribe once in 2014, taking the loss in allowing five runs in five innings. If the Tigers are in a save situation, it will be Joakim Soria for a while as Joe Nathan was placed on the DL. Cleveland's Zach McAllister (4-7, 5.23) regressed badly last season after a good 2013. He won the No. 5 job this spring. McAllister was 1-0 with a 4.32 ERA in 16.2 innings vs. Detroit last year. Victor Martinez is 9-for-18 with a homer and seven RBIs off him.
Key trends: Cleveland is 1-7 in its past eight series openers. It is 2-9 in McAllister's past 11 starts. Detroit is 6-1 in its past seven in Cleveland. The "over/under" has gone over in 10 of the past 12 meetings there.
Early lean: Take the Tribe (although monitor the status of injured star outfielder Michael Brantley) because I have no faith in Simon; go with any Martinez hitting props and lean over the total.
Cubs at Rockies (-128, 10.5)
Break up the Rockies! They were supposed to be pretty lousy again this season and maybe they still will be. But Colorado sits atop the NL West with a 3-0 mark after sweeping a series at Milwaukee to open the week, so this is the home opener. Nolan Arenado, Troy Tulowitzki and Corey Dickerson all had big series against the Brewers, and all three rake at home (all Rockies do). Originally ace Jorge De La Rosa was to start the home opener, but he's dealing with groin tightness, so the start goes to lefty Tyler Matzek. Last year as a rookie he was a pretty solid 4-4 with a 3.61 ERA at Coors Field. He faced the Cubs once at Wrigley in relief and allowed a run, hit and a walk in two-thirds of an inning in taking the loss. Chicago goes with lefty Travis Wood, who beat out Edwin Jackson for the No. 5 spot. Wood was a disappointing 8-13 with 5.03 ERA last year after a very good 2013. Tulo is 0-for-5 career off Wood.
Key trends: The Cubs are 1-6 in their past seven against a lefty. They are 3-14 in Wood's past 17 on the road against teams with a winning record. The Rockies are 2-5 in Matzek's past seven series openers. The under is 5-1 in Matzek's past six starts. The Cubs are 5-2 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Rockies and over even though Cubs struggled on offense in opening series vs. Cardinals.
Red Sox at Yankees (-114, 7.5)
I'm telling you right now that I won't be previewing every Red Sox-Yankees game this season -- I'm so tired of that ESPN-hyped rivalry and frankly it's not what it used to be with New York looking mediocre at best again. Boston might be good. Of course this game is nationally televised, on the MLB Network. Both starting pitchers are new to their teams. It's former Diamondbacks lefty Wade Miley for Boston. Miley, who already has signed a three-year extension with the Sox, was 8-12 with a 4.34 ERA on a bad team in 2014. He didn't face the Yankees. New York goes with Nathan Eovaldi, who was acquired in trade from the Marlins. Eovaldi was not good last year, going 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA. He didn't face Boston.
Key trends: New York is 6-0 in its past six against a lefty. Boston is 1-4 in the past five meetings. The over is 6-2 in the previous eight.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Giants at Padres (+110, 7)
Obviously I would never try to predict a no-hitter, but I will remind you that Friday's Giants starter, Tim Lincecum, has no-hit the Padres each of the previous two seasons. Those San Diego teams were among the worst offensive clubs in the league, and this year's lineup is much, much different. Entering Thursday, the Padres have scored 14 runs in their first three games this season after not scoring their 14th run until their seventh game last year. The Giants need Lincecum to be at least solid with all the pitching injuries, but Lincecum has been largely lousy the past three seasons. However, he was 5-0 with a 1.40 ERA in 25.2 innings against the Padres in 2014. San Diego counters with Brandon Morrow in his Padres debut. The injury-plagued Morrow hasn't thrown more than 54.1 innings since 2012. Morrow had a 4.76 ERA this spring in winning the No. 5 spot.
Key trends: The Giants are 4-0 in Lincecum's past four in San Diego. They are 0-4 in his past four road starts overall. The over has hit in three of Lincecum's past five vs. the Padres.
Early lean: Can't ignore what Lincecum does to Padres, even if many of them are new. Go under.
Dodgers at Diamondbacks (+130, 8.5)
The hottest power hitter in baseball right now is Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who has become the first player in league history with five homers in his team's first three games. On Wednesday night, Gonzalez hit three solo home runs against his former team, the Padres. He will face off against Diamondbacks starter Chase Anderson. He was 9-7 with a 4.01 ERA in 21 starts last year as a rookie. Anderson was 1-1 with a 4.96 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers. Gonzalez was 2-for-6 with a homer and two walks against him. It's new Dodger Brett Anderson on the mound for L.A. Guy has great stuff but can't stay healthy. He hasn't pitched more than 84 innings since 2010 with Oakland. Anderson was 1-3 with a 2.91 ERA in eight starts last year with the Rockies. Only a few Diamondbacks have faced him. Mark Trumbo has a homer and four RBIs in 11 at-bats vs. Anderson.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 9-2 in their past 11 in Arizona. The over is 6-2 in the past eight meetings overall.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
Doc's is offering $60 worth of member baseball picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - you don't even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit for any of our top MLB handicappers. Click here for free MLB picks now. Also, for a limited time only get three MLB handicappers for the price of one. Click here for details.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent Baseball Handicapping
- Free MLB Picks Wednesday 9/23/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Tuesday 9/22/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Saturday 9/19/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Friday 9/18/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Thursday 9/17/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Wednesday 9/16/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Tuesday 9/15/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Saturday 9/12/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Friday 9/11/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Thursday 9/10/2020 and Opening Line Report