The Chicago Cubs are awaiting results of an MRI on the knee/ankle of young slugger Kyle Schwarber later Friday. He was involved in a pretty scary looking collision with center fielder Dexter Fowler (who is fine) as they were converging on a ball hit in the gap by Arizona's Jean Segura on Thursday night at Chase Field -- it led to an inside-the-park homer for Segura. Schwarber was carted off but X-rays were negative, so that's a first good sign. However, an MRI shows things X-rays don't. At a minimum, you have to think he's still going to miss at least a few weeks and maybe up to six with a severe sprain. But the Cubs do have the outfield depth -- Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant can move from third, Javier Baez when he comes off the DL -- to deal with this. The one negative was the team wanted to use Schwarber's big bat at catcher whenever Jason Hammel pitched but that will be shelved for now.
Free $60 in Member MLB Picks No Obligation Click Here
Red Sox at Blue Jays (-131, 9)
It's a 1:07 p.m. ET matinee on the MLB Network. I'm so upset about this game. Why? The Red Sox were rained out in Cleveland on Thursday so they moved their pitchers back one day. Originally, they were to start Steven Wright here against Toronto's R.A. Dickey. What do they have in common? They are the only two knuckleballers currently on big-league rosters and might be the last two ever. There hasn't been a regular-season game where knuckleballers started opposite one another since 2000 -- Tim Wakefield vs. Steve Sparks. Instead, it's Rick Porcello here for Boston. Dang it! Porcello was very inconsistent last year, going 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA and 25 homers allowed. He was 2-2 with a 6.45 ERA against Toronto. Jose Bautista hits .423 off him with a homer and five RBIs in 26 at-bats. Dickey pitched Monday at Tampa Bay and got the win, allowing three runs and six hits in five innings. He became the oldest Blue Jays starter to ever win a game at 41 years, 158 days. Last year, Dickey was 0-3 with a 4.62 ERA vs. Boston. Xander Bogaerts is 10-for-28 off him with four extra-base hits. Big Papi has three homers in 34 at-bats.
Key trends: The Jays are 6-2 in Dickey's past eight home starts. The "over/under" is 4-0-2 in his past six overall. Toronto is 0-4 in Dickey's past four at home vs. Boston.
Early lean: Red Sox and over.
Pirates at Reds (+108, 7.5)
A 1:10 p.m. ET start. One of this season's Cy Young favorites, young Pittsburgh right-hander Gerrit Cole, makes his season debut a few days late. Cole was held out of the Pirates' season-opening series against the Cardinals after missing part of spring training with inflammation in his rib cage. Cole is way too valuable to risk injury. Cole was fourth in last season's Cy Young voting, going 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. All were career bests other than the losses. He lost the wild-card game to Jake Arrieta and the Cubs. The Reds had Cole's number more than any team in 2015 as he was 0-3 with a 5.95 ERA in four starts against them. The Reds go with Raisel Iglesias. He was 3-7 with a 4.15 ERA last year as a rookie and pitched well vs. the Phillies on Monday in a no-decision, allowing two runs in six innings, striking out seven. Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen is 1-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs off him.
Key trends: The Pirates are 4-1 in Cole's past five road starts. The Reds are 1-4 in Iglesias' past five at home. The under is 10-3-1 in Cole's past 14 on the road. Pittsburgh is 0-6 in Cole's past six vs. the Reds.
Early lean: Pirates and under.
Dodgers at Giants (+120, 6)
Here's your pitching matchup of the week, with a 4:05 p.m. ET start. It's lefty Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers. The three-time Cy Young winner and betting favorite for a fourth was typically awesome in Monday's rout of San Diego, throwing seven innings of one-hit ball against the punchless Padres, striking out nine and walking one. Kershaw is 9-3 with a 1.16 ERA in 14 career starts in San Francisco. Buster Posey has two homers career off him but also hits just .224 with 16 strikeouts in 76 at-bats. Brandon Belt probably just sits this one out as he's 3-for-37 with 21 strikeouts off Kershaw. Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner had the flu on Monday but beat the Brewers, allowing three runs and five hits in five innings, uncharacteristically walking five. Bumgarner was 2-2 with a 2.16 ERA last year vs. the Dodgers and beat Kershaw a couple of times, including hitting a homer off him. San Francisco is 5-1 in its past six when Bumgarner faces Kershaw.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 4-0 in Kershaw's past four road starts. The Giants are 7-2 in Bumgarner's past nine at home. The under is 9-1-1 in Kershaw's past 11 in San Francisco. The under is 5-1 in Bumgarner's past six vs. L.A.
Early lean: Giants and under.
Twins at Royals (-151, 8.5)
It's the Kansas City debut of right-hander Ian Kennedy, formerly of the Padres. He was originally to go Tuesday against the Mets but was pushed back due to a hamstring issue. Kennedy got a $70 million free-agent deal from the Royals this offseason even though he was only 9-15 with a 4.28 ERA last year. But Kennedy is durable - since the beginning of the 2010 season, when Kennedy broke into a major league starting rotation, he ranks 14th in the majors in innings pitched -- and will give you innings, and he should do well with that terrific Kansas City defense behind him. Kennedy didn't face the Twins in 2015 and hasn't seen many of them career. Trevor Plouffe is 3-for-6 with a homer and two RBIs off him. Brian Dozier is 2-for-4. Minnesota starts lefty Tommy Milone. He wasn't guaranteed a rotation spot this spring but pitched pretty well in Florida. Milone was 9-5 with a 3.92 ERA last season. He was 2-0 with a 3.30 ERA in five starts vs. the Royals. Lorenzo Cain eats him up, going 8-for-23 with two doubles and a homer.
Key trends: The Twins are 2-6 in Milone's past eight in Game 2 of a series. The under is 5-1-1 in his past seven starts vs. the AL Central.
Early lean: Royals and under.
Cubs at Diamondbacks (-124, 8.5)
Obviously no Schwarber here for Chicago, and Baez was originally to come off the DL on Saturday but had a minor setback and won't be ready. With the Cubs facing a tough right-hander here in Zack Greinke, I expect Bryant to play left field and lefty-hitting Tommy La Stella to take Bryant's usual spot at third with Soler on the bench. Greinke looked terrible in his Arizona debut on Monday, getting shelled for seven runs and nine hits in four innings against Colorado, allowing three homers -- Greinke hadn't done that since Aug. 19, 2009. He was apparently dealing with the flu. Greinke pitched once vs. the Cubs last year, shutting them out over six innings. Dexter Fowler is just 2-for-18 career off him with nine whiffs. Miguel Montero hits him better than any Cub, going 8-for-26 with two homers. Chicago starts Kyle Hendricks here. He was 8-7 with a 3.95 ERA last year and allowed one run in five innings in his lone start vs. Arizona.
Key trends: The Cubs are 7-0 in Hendricks' past seven Saturday starts. Arizona is 1-5 in its past six Saturday games. The under is 4-1 in Hendricks' past five starts.
Early lean: Snakes -- Greinke will no doubt take this start personally after how bad he was Monday -- 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 Articles
- 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
- Baseball Betting Expert Advice: MLB Underrated Pitchers
- Daily Expert MLB Picks: Friday, June 15, 2018, Opening Line Report
- Expert MLB Betting Advice: Disappointing Marquee Pitchers
- Daily Expert MLB Picks: Thursday, June 14, 2018, Opening Line Report
- MLB Betting Trends: Totals Report for Hot Over and Under Teams