I start writing these preview stories around 11 a.m. ET so they are ready to go when the opening next-day odds are released at BetOnline, usually no later than 1 p.m. ET. On Thursday when previewing Friday's games, I happened to be watching Cubs at Pirates while waiting on odds and mentioned in that story it looked like excellent Pittsburgh rookie shortstop Jung Ho Kang had suffered a major knee/leg injury while being taken out on a slide at second base in the MLB Network game. And it turns out I was right. Kang both tore a meniscus and broke his tibia on the play, which even Kang's agent said was a clean baseball play by the Cubs' Chris Coghlan. News1, a Korean news organization, described Coghlan's slide as a "murderous tackle." Kang is going to miss 6-8 months, which obviously puts the start of next season in jeopardy. Kang, the first position player to directly make the jump from the Korean Baseball Organization to the majors, hit .287 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs in 126 games for Pittsburgh. Tough loss.
Yankees at Mets (-108, 7)
Of course this game is on national TV -- Fox -- so it will have live betting at sportsbooks. Just want to remind you again that Alex Rodriguez will only be available as a pinch-hitter with no DH in play at Citi Field. That should factor into your total betting all series. The Yankees start Michael Pineda (10-8, 4.25). He has been hurt so often that Pineda might be hitting a wall as he has pitched 139.2 innings. He has allowed at least four runs in five of his past six outings. He beat the Mets on April 24, holding them to a run on five hits over 7 2/3 innings. Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard (8-6, 3.20) held the Braves to a run on two hits last time out -- his previous start had been skipped to conserve innings. He hasn't faced the Yanks.
Key trends: The Yankees are 1-4 in Pineda's past five road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Mets are 7-0 in Syndergaard's past seven at home. The "over/under" is 9-3 in Pineda's past 12 on the road. The over is 7-0 in Syndergaard's past seven overall.
Early lean: Mets and under.
Mariners at Rangers (-220, 9)
I am at a loss for words regarding the Texas Rangers. I can't believe they just swept four games from Houston and had a 2.5-game lead in the AL West entering Friday's action. Stunned. This has the potential to be a letdown series, however. But Rangers ace Cole Hamels (9-8, 3.76) is on the mound for Saturday's Game 2. Hamels has allowed at least three runs in six of his eight starts for the Rangers; he did so only seven times in 20 starts for Philadelphia before the trade. To be fair, pitching in the AL is tougher. Hamels is 1-1 with a 4.95 ERA in three starts vs. Seattle this year. Logan Morrison is 11-for-28 career off him with four doubles. Mariners lefty Vidal Nuno (1-2, 3.21) snapped a 20-start winless streak in his last start on Sept. 9 vs. these Rangers, shutting them out on one hit over seven innings. Nuno has pitched two-thirds of an inning of relief since then.
Key trends: The Mariners are 5-1 in their past six vs. lefties. Texas has won six straight Hamels starts. The under is 4-0 in the Rangers' past four on Saturday.
Early lean: Rangers and over.
A's at Astros (-137, 7.5)
Houston is in a free-fall and in danger of not just failing to win a division it has led the vast majority of the season but missing the playoffs entirely. The Astros are a different team at home, however, with the most home victories in the AL. Lefty Scott Kazmir (7-10, 2.63) starts here. He hasn't been quite as sharp lately as Houston has dropped his past four. Kazmir came over from Oakland at the trade deadline. He allowed four runs in Oakland on Sept. 8. A's ace Sonny Gray (13-7, 2.56) had his worst start of the season last time out, allowing seven runs and eight hits in three innings vs. the White Sox. It was the first time in 2015 he didn't go at least five innings. He is 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA this year against Houston.
Key trends: The Astros are 3-12 in their past 15 on Saturday and have lost five straight in Game 2 of a series. The under is 12-3 in Oakland's past 15 on Saturday. The under is 7-2-1 in Kazmir's past 10 overall.
Early lean: Astros and under.
Diamondbacks at Giants (-135, 7.5)
I wouldn't touch San Francisco much the rest of the season. About half the Giants' starting lineup is out injured and/or shut down for the season. The white flag has been waived. Arizona has to be pleased how lefty ace Patrick Corbin (5-4, 3.29) has pitched this year after missing all of 2014 with Tommy John surgery. He should only be better in 2016. Corbin is 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA this year in two starts vs. San Francisco. Buster Posey, a rare regular still playing, is 9-for-25 off him with two doubles. The Giants' Mike Leake (10-8, 3.72) has been up-and-down since coming over from Cincinnati at the deadline. He pitched in Arizona on Sept. 7 and was rocked for six runs and 11 hits in 5.2 innings. Paul Goldschmidt is just 2-for-18 career off him.
Key trends: The Diamondbacks are 1-7 in Corbin's past eight vs. teams with a winning record. The Giants are 1-8 in their past nine vs. a lefty. The over is 4-1 in Corbin's past five on the road. The under is 4-1 in Corbin's past five vs. the Giants.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and under.
Pirates at Dodgers (-200, 6)
Jordy Mercer will take over as the everyday shortstop for Pittsburgh. My question is this: Do the Pirates bring about some sort of retribution on the Cubs when they visit Wrigley Field next weekend? Even Kang absolved Coghlan, but this seems to be one of those unwritten rules that you have to do something to stand up for your teammate. This injury also might put the Pirates in a mini-funk. They had to deal with Zack Greinke on Friday night in the series opener and here it's Clayton Kershaw (14-6, 2.12). He has allowed exactly one earned run in each of his past six outings. His last shaky start was Aug. 7 in Pittsburgh when Kershaw allowed four runs in six innings. Andrew McCutchen is 8-for-21 with a homer off him. Mercer is 0-for-3. Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano (10-7, 3.45) struggled last time out, lasting only 2.1 innings vs. Milwaukee. He is 3-0 lifetime against the Dodgers but hasn't faced them in 2015.
Key trends: The Pirates are 7-0 in Liriano's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The Dodgers are 7-2 in their past nine vs. a lefty. The over is 5-0 in Liriano's past five on the road.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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