I really should have known better. I picked the Chicago White Sox to make the playoffs this season despite the fact they had major question marks at second and third base. Well, I thought maybe they were OK at third base as Conor Gillaspie hit .282 there with 57 RBIs in 130 games last season. Alas, that was clearly a fluke as Gillaspie was batting just .237 with 15 RBIs this season before the team pretty surprisingly designated him for assignment over the weekend. The White Sox will now turn to Tyler Saladino as their primary third baseman, but it's pretty indicative of what a lost season it has been on the North Side of Chicago. Second base and catcher also have been black holes. Let the fire sale begin.
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Rays at Phillies (+115, 8)
There's not much reason to watch a Phillies game this season, unless you are betting against them, but Tuesday might offer some hope as the team's top pick from last season, at No. 7 overall, former LSU pitcher Aaron Nola, will make his season debut. Nola, 22, went 10-4 this season with a 2.39 ERA in 18 starts between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Alas, he will have to switch numbers from No. 10 to No. 27 because Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa wears No. 10. Come on Larry, give up the number! Nola will be the first Phillies player since Pat Combs in 1989 to debut a season after being drafted. Nola was ranked No. 12 overall in Baseball America's Midseason Top 50 recently released. It's Nathan Karns (4-5, 3.63) for Tampa. He is 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA in seven road starts. Karns has never faced the Phils. Rays will lose DH here.
Key trends: The Rays are 2-5 in Karns' past seven on the road. The "over/under" has gone under in five of his past seven away. The over is 8-0 in the Phillies' last 8 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
Early lean: Phillies and under.
Twins at Angels (-145, 7.5)
Minnesota likely won't have exciting rookie Miguel Sano for this series as he's dealing with a sprained right ankle. He was hurt stepping on a ball during infield drills on Saturday. Sano looks like a future star. He is batting .326 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 43 at-bats. The Twins start Kyle Gibson (8-6, 2.85) here. He comes off perhaps his best start of the year, not allowing an earned run and only four hits over seven innings against the Tigers. He hasn't faced the Halos this year. Mike Trout is 3-for-6 with a homer off him career. Albert Pujols has a homer in eight at-bats. It's Matt Shoemaker (4-7, 4.85) for the Angels, and he may be headed to the bullpen once Jered Weaver is activated off the DL. Minnesota's Danny Santana is 2-for-3 off him. Torii Hunter is 0-for-2.
Key trends: The Twins are 1-8 in Gibson's past nine vs. teams with a winning record. The Angels are 1-8 in Shoemaker's past nine at home. The under is 7-1-1 in Gibson's past nine on the road. The under is 4-1 in Shoemaker's past five at home.
Early lean: Angels and over.
Dodgers at Braves (+128, 8)
Los Angeles might be without All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal for a bit. He left Sunday's game after being struck in the jaw with a foul ball. Actually it was fortunate he didn't break the jaw, which Manager Don Mattingly feared at first. The team doesn't think he will head to the DL. A.J. Ellis will start in his place. It's lefty Brett Anderson here for L.A. This will be the 19th start of the season for Anderson (5-5, 3.17), which is notable because he hasn't made that many since 2010 due to injuries. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in six straight outings, with a 2.48 ERA. Atlanta's Nick Markakis is 2-for-6 off him. It's lefty Alex Wood (6-6, 3.76) for the Braves. He pitched at the Dodgers on May 27, allowing a run over seven innings. Jimmy Rollins can't figure the guy out, going 1-for-17.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 4-1 in Anderson's past five vs. teams with a losing record. Atlanta is 2-5 in its past seven vs. a lefty. The Braves are 2-5 in Wood's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-1 in Anderson's past six road starts. The under is 5-1 in Wood's past six at home vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Braves and under.
Pirates at Royals (+115, 7.5)
Pittsburgh shortstop Jordy Mercer suffered a scary-looking leg injury over the weekend when he was slid into by Milwaukee's Carlos Gomez, who was trying to break up a double play. Was it a dirty slide? Perhaps. It's still not clear how serious the injury is. Jung-Ho Kang will take over at shortstop. The Pirates start ace Gerrit Cole (13-3, 2.30) here, and he leads the majors in wins. The All-Star closed the first half by allowing two runs in seven innings in a win over the Cardinals. He has never faced the Royals. Kansas City lefty Jason Vargas (5-2, 4.10) will come off the DL and make his first big-league start since June 8. He has never faced Pittsburgh, which will add the DH here.
Key trends: The Pirates are 8-0 in Cole's past eight interleague games. The Royals are 4-0 in Vargas' past four at home. The over is 4-0 in Cole's past four.
Early lean: Pirates and under.
Red Sox at Astros (-118, 8.5)
Houston will again be without first baseman Chris Carter on Tuesday. He hasn't played since Friday due to a sprained ankle but will try running on it Tuesday. He doesn't think a DL stint will be needed. Carter has 15 dingers and 41 RBIs but is batting just .185. It's a matchup of rookie pitchers. For Houston it's Vincent Velasquez (0-1, 3.94). He hasn't pitched in the majors since July 7 as the team sent him back down to Double-A to help limit his innings. Lefty Brian Johnson will make his first big-league start for Boston as he takes the spot of the injured Clay Buchholz. Johnson was 8-6 with a 2.73 ERA in 16 games for Triple-A Pawtucket.
Key trends: The Astros are 4-0 in their past four at home against lefties. The over is 7-1 in Houston's past eight vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Astros and under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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