West Coast baseball fans have been spoiled twice this season and will be a third time on Thursday in the clear pitching matchup of the day. I'm talking about Dodgers ace and three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and Giants ace and World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner. How unbelievable is it they are facing off a third time already? They didn't at all last year and just once per season from 2011-13. Kershaw took the first game in 2011 while Bumgarner earned wins in 2012 and 2013. Kershaw owned the better line over those three games, pitching 21 2/3 innings and allowing five runs on 20 hits with 23 strikeouts and two walks. Bumgarner went 19 innings, allowed seven runs on 17 hits, struck out 19 and walked six.
Free $60 in Member MLB Picks No Obligation Click Here
Astros at Tigers (-166, 8)
Interesting that this game is with a 1:08 p.m. start because it's a series opener and not a finale, and the Tigers had to play Wednesday night (at home). Houston at least had a home day game vs. Oakland. Scott Feldman (3-4, 5.06) goes for Houston. He has allowed at least three runs in each of his past three starts. Feldman did strike out a season-high 10 last time out in a win over Toronto. Miguel Cabrera really hits him hard, going 9-for-16 with two doubles, two homers and five RBIs and without a strikeout. The Tigers will be without DH Victor Martinez as they officially put him on the disabled list Tuesday. Lefty David Price (3-1, 3.40) has been a bit off his past two starts, allowing seven runs and 20 hits over 13 innings. Jose Altuve is 3-for-11 off him. George Springer is 1-for-8 with a homer but six strikeouts.
Key trends: Houston is 7-3 in its past 10 against lefties. The Tigers have won six straight series openers started by Price. The "over/under" has gone over in four of Price's past five against teams with a winning record. Houston is 2-9 in its past 11 in Detroit.
Early lean: Tigers and under.
Dodgers at Giants (+110, 5.5)
Los Angeles has lost both of the starts by Kershaw (2-2, 4.24) against his rival this season. On April 22 at AT&T Park, Kershaw went six innings and allowed two runs and three hits, striking out nine. Bumgarner (4-2, 3.20) went 6.1 innings and allowed two runs and six hits while striking out six. Both got a no-decision in the Giants' 3-2 win. On April 28 at Dodger Stadium, Kershaw took the loss despite allowing only two runs and seven hits over seven innings, striking out eight with no walks. Bumgarner got the win, allowing five hits and one run over eight innings, striking out nine and walking one. Bumgarner has been better of late, having allowed just six runs in his last 27 1/3 innings, while Kershaw has struggled by giving up 11 runs in his last 19 2/3 frames. Whatever you do, don't bet on hitting props for the Giants' Hunter Pence (4-for-53, 13 strikeouts) or Brandon Belt (3-for-32, 18 strikeouts) against Kershaw.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 5-0 in Kershaw's past five on Thursday. The Giants are 12-2 in Bumgarner's past 14 vs. teams with a winning record. The Giants are 4-0 in their past four when Bumgarner faces Kershaw. The under has hit in 10 of Kershaw 's past 12 in San Francisco.
Early lean: Giants and over.
Cardinals at Mets (-128, 7)
St. Louis has had had some troubles at the back end of its rotation since Adam Wainwright went down, so perhaps lefty Jaime Garcia can solve it as he takes the place of a struggling Tyler Lyons and makes his season debut off the DL. In three starts, Lyons managed to pitch only 13 innings, allowing 18 hits and five walks with an ERA of 5.54. The 28-year-old Garcia appeared in just 16 games combined the last two seasons because of injuries. He was a 13-game winner each of his first two seasons in the rotation in 2010 and 2011. He didn't pitch very well in the minors in his rehab outings, but really the team has no choice here. Only a few Mets have faced him. John Mayberry Jr. has the most, going 6-for-13 with four doubles and four RBIs, so maybe he gets a spot start. Daniel Murphy is 1-for-3 off him. It's Jacob deGrom (4-4, 3.21) for the Mets. He held the Brewers to a run over six innings last time out and even had three hits, two in a 10-run fourth inning. DeGrom became only the second pitcher since at least 1914 to have three hits batting in the No. 8 hole. The Cards' Jason Heyward is 3-for-6 off him. Matt Adams is 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs.
Key trends: The Cardinals have won five straight on Thursday. The Mets are 0-4 in their past four vs. a lefty. The under is 5-0-2 in New York's past seven against a southpaw.
Early lean: Mets and over.
A's at Rays (-109, 7.5)
First meeting of these teams since Oakland acquired Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar (whom A's then flipped to Washington) from Tampa for John Jaso and two minor leaguers this winter. Been a bust trade for most part as Jaso has played in only one game due to injury and Zobrist has been out since late April, although he's close to returning. It appears the injury-ravaged A's have another problem as outfielder Coco Crisp left Tuesday's game with neck pain, and it sounds like he will be headed for the DL. Not a huge loss considering he is 2-for-45 this season, although he has been very good on defense. Jesse Chavez (1-3, 2.63) takes the hill for Oakland. Two of his past three starts have been quality. Not many Rays have faced him. Asdrubal Cabrera is 1-for-3 with a solo homer. It's Alex Colome (2-1, 6.05) for Tampa. He has allowed 11 runs and 17 hits over 9.1 innings in his past two starts. Only a couple of A's have seen him. Marcus Semien is 1-for-1.
Key trends: The A's have lost nine straight Thursday games. The Rays are 1-7 in their past eight against teams with a losing road record. The under is 5-2 in Colome's past seven.
Early lean: Rays and over.
Cubs at Padres (-112, 7)
San Diego was hoping to have outfielder/first baseman Wil Myers back on Tuesday from a wrist injury, but instead the team has put him on the disabled list retroactive to May 11 with wrist tendinitis. Manger Bud Black said Myers suffered the same type of injury last year while with the Rays and he missed 70 games. Kyle Hendricks (0-1, 5.15) starts in the series finale for Chicago. He tends to follow a bad start with a good one this season. He allowed five runs over 5.2 innings last time out vs. Pittsburgh. He faced the Padres on April 18 and gave up two runs and three hits over six innings. Matt Kemp is 1-for-6 with a homer and two RBIs off him. Odrisamer Despaigne (2-2, 6.75) goes for the Padres. He has been blasted for 15 runs and 20 hits over eight innings in his past two starts. The only active Cub to ever face him is Miguel Montero, who is 3-for-10 with a homer and four RBIs.
Key trends: The Cubs are 1-4 in Hendricks' past five on the road. The Padres are 5-1 in Despaigne's past six at home. The over is 6-1 in Hendricks' past seven overall.
Early lean: Definitely over. Take Padres.
Get free picks from any Doc's Sports handicapper - there is no obligation for this offer and no credit card required. Just sign up for an account, and you can use the $60 in free picks for any Doc's Sports Advisory Board handicapper and any sport. Click here to get started now.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent Baseball Handicapping Articles
- Daily Expert MLB Picks: Saturday, June 23, 2018, Opening Line Report
- MLB Expert Handicapping: Orioles One of All-Time Worst
- Expert MLB Betting Picks: Division Winner Props
- Daily Expert MLB Picks: Friday, June 22, 2018, Opening Line Report
- Daily Expert MLB Picks: Thursday, June 21, 2018, Opening Line Report
- Daily Expert MLB Picks: Wednesday, June 20, 2018, Opening Line Report
- Daily Expert MLB Picks: Tuesday, June 19, 2018, Opening Line Report
- Expert MLB Handicapping: Can Los Angeles Dodgers Turn it Around?
- Expert Baseball Betting Advice: Are Seattle Mariners for Real?
- Daily Expert MLB Picks: Saturday, June 16, 2018, Opening Line Report