Two aces left their games early on Wednesday with issues in their pitching arms, and both teams will be on pins and needles Thursday awaiting test results on said arms. The Rangers should win the AL West with a healthy Yu Darvish, but in just his third start back from Tommy John surgery he had to leave Wednesday's game with tightness in his pitching shoulder. Darvish thinks it's nothing and that he will make his next start, but he's obviously not a doctor. Potentially more worrisome was Phillies young right-hander Vince Velasquez leaving after just two pitches Wednesday -- fastballs that didn't top 87 mph when he averages 94 -- against the Cubs with right biceps soreness. Velasquez had Tommy John surgery back in 2010. Sometimes right biceps soreness can be a precursor to a major issue. Velasquez is a huge part of Philly's future, so I doubt we see him for a while as the team will be extra cautious even if it's minor.
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Phillies at Nationals (-270, 8)
This will already be the 10th meeting of the season between the teams, with Washington leading 5-4. Each club swept the other on its home field once already. The Nationals hadn't lost a start by Stephen Strasburg (9-0, 2.85) since last Sept. 9 but did on Saturday in Cincinnati, with him leaving after 5.1 inning due to a calf strain/cramps and allowing three runs in 5.1 innings. Strasburg said he was simply dehydrated and was fine the next day, so he should be good to go here. Somehow, he hasn't faced Philly this year. He was 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA in five starts against them in 2015. Maikel Franco is 3-for-7 off him with a homer. Philly's Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 3.80) is a potential trade chip if he keeps pitching well and the Phillies keep fading. Hellickson is 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA this year in three starts vs. Washington. Daniel Murphy is 3-for-9 off him with two doubles and a homer. Bryce Harper is 3-for-8 with five walks.
Key trends: The Phillies are 1-4 in Hellickson's past five series openers. The Nats are 7-1 in their past eight at home vs. teams with a losing road record. The "over/under" has gone under in five of the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Nationals and under.
A's at Reds (+100, 9.5)
Oakland will lose the designated hitter for this interleague series. A's ace Sonny Gray (3-5, 5.77) returned from a disabled list stint (back) on Sunday in Houston and had one of his better starts of the year, allowing a run and five hits in five innings. Gray hasn't won since April 22. He will bat for the first time this season. The Reds think young right-hander Anthony DeSclafani is a key piece of their future and he will make his season debut in this game. He was to be the team's opening day starter, but he strained an oblique during spring training and then had a setback last month. DeSclafani pitched a bullpen session on Tuesday and came out in the clear. I'm assuming he will be on a pitch limit for a while. He was 9-13 with a 4.05 ERA last year. A few A's have seen him. Chris Coghlan is 3-for-9 with two doubles. Coco Crisp is 0-for-2.
Key trends: The A's are 2-7 in Gray's past nine on the road. The Reds are 0-6 in DeSclafani's past six vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 7-1 in Gray's past eight.
Early lean: A's and over.
Mets at Brewers (+120, 8.5)
If the Mets could just get all their position players healthy, they might be scary again because Matt Harvey is finally pitching like he was expected to and has in the past. Harvey (4-8, 4.95) has gone a season-high seven innings in his last two starts and allowed just one combined run and six hits. He actually lost Sunday in Miami, however. This will be Harvey's first career start against Milwaukee. The Brew Crew go with Junior Guerra (3-1, 3.61), who has been a pleasant surprise. The 31-year-old, in his first big-league season, took a no-decision against the Phillies in his last start, allowing three runs in six innings. Guerra has made seven starts and four have been quality. He hasn't faced the Mets.
Key trends: The Mets are 2-6 in Harvey's past eight on the road. The under is 6-2 in his past eight overall.
Early lean: Mets and under.
Rangers at Mariners (-140, 8.5)
Texas might have another issue with third baseman Adrian Beltre as he also left Wednesday's game but with a hamstring injury. So monitor his status. Seattle made what has proven a very good trade this offseason in acquiring outfielder Leonys Martin from Texas, and the Mariners believe they will be able to activate Martin off the DL on Friday. The team definitely has missed Martin, who was hitting .262 with nine homers, 20 RBIs and eight steals as Seattle was 10 over .500 after winning the last game he played on May 25 before going on the DL with a hamstring injury. Martin had a hit in nine straight games. He will face off against Rangers lefty starter Derek Holland (5-4, 4.53). He is working on a string of four straight quality starts, not allowing more than two earned runs in any. Holland is 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA in two starts this year against Seattle. Martin is 0-for-3 against his former teammate. Robinson Cano hits .372 off him with two homers and nine RBIs in 43 at-bats. Nelson Cruz is 4-for-14 with two homers and four RBIs against Holland. The M's go with Hisashi Iwakuma (4-5, 4.13). He is 0-2 this year vs. Texas in three starts despite a solid 3.00 ERA. Beltre has three homers off him and hits .289 in 45 at-bats. Rougned Odor is 7-for-18 with a homer.
Key trends: The Rangers are 5-1 in Holland's past six in Seattle. The Mariners are 5-2 in Iwakuma's past seven at home vs. Texas. The under is 5-2-2 in Holland's past nine against the M's.
Early lean: Rangers and under.
Dodgers at Giants (+155, 6)
Clearly the pitching matchup of the night between these blood rivals. The Dodgers go with lefty and Cy Young betting favorite Clayton Kershaw (8-1, 1.46). He was typically good on Saturday against Atlanta, shutting out the Braves on three hits over a season-low six innings. He was at 96 pitches through those six, so there was really no reason to bring Kershaw out for the seventh. Kershaw wasn't totally sharp as he allowed the leadoff batter to reach base in four of his six innings, once by hitting the opposing pitcher for the first time in his career. Kershaw is 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA in two starts vs. the Giants in 2016. Brandon Belt continues to flail against him, going 3-for-43 with 23 strikeouts. I am confident I could do that. Buster Posey has two homers and seven RBIs off Kershaw but also 16 strikeouts in 82 at-bats. The Giants go with Johnny Cueto (9-1, 2.16) on six days of rest. He pitched last Friday in St. Louis, allowing one unearned run on four hits over six innings. Cueto's Giants debut was April 16 at the Dodgers as he allowed one run over 7.1 innings.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 4-0 in Kershaw's past four in Frisco. The under has hit in 10 of his past 12 there. The under is 5-1 in Cueto's past six.
Early lean: I can't pick Kershaw in every game, right? Even the best lose once in a while. I'll go Giants here and certainly under.
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