Maybe I'll actually recommend backing the Atlanta Braves over the next 10 days because they are away from Turner Field until May 24. Why? The Braves are an absurd 2-17 at home. Their 1-16 start at home was the worst in the majors since the 1913 Yankees lost their first 17 decisions. If you are wondering, and I was, the modern record for worst home winning percentage is held by the 1939 St. Louis Browns, who went 18-59 (.234) at Sportsman's Park. The Braves' road record is a decent 6-8 entering the weekend. Their lone series win was on the road, sweeping three games in Miami from April 15-17.
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Pirates at Cubs (-255, TBA)
A 2:20 p.m. start. Earlier this week, Cubs ace and reigning NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta said he's not giving the Cubs a hometown discount when he hits free agency after next season and that he expects to get more than the $175 million Stephen Strasburg just got. Arrieta might get more than Strasburg's $25 million a season, but he's not getting $175 million because Arrieta will be 32 for the start of the 2018 season, so no team in its right mind would offer more than five years. Arrieta (6-0, 1.13), who I'm sure can only afford to eat Ramen Noodles on his $10.7 million salary this season, dominated these Pirates on May 3 in Pittsburgh, shutting them out over seven innings on two hits. The Cubs have won his past 20 regular-season starts. Pittsburgh goes with lefty Jeff Locke (1-2, 4.68). He has had three straight quality starts, but the Pirates lost the past two. Locke hasn't faced Chicago this season and was 1-0 with a 9.00 ERA in four starts against the Cubs in 2015. Anthony Rizzo is 7-for-20 with three homers, two doubles and five RBIs off him.
Key trends: The Pirates are 1-6 in Locke's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The Cubs are 6-0 in Arrieta's past six at home vs. teams with a winning record. The "over/under" is 6-1-1 in his past eight vs. Pittsburgh.
Early lean: Cubs and under if wind not blowing out (likely 7).
Mets at Rockies (+108, 11)
New York publicly is saying it's not worried about lefty Steven Matz, but his scheduled start here is being skipped due to forearm soreness. I don't need to tell you that can be a warning sign for a problem that can require Tommy John surgery. The Mets are being cautious because Matz pitched through lat discomfort last season, the injury worsened and cost him two months on the DL. There are no plans to put him there this time. So it's Logan Verrett (3-0, 1.27), who has been very valuable as a swingman this season. He made two very good starts in place of Jacob deGrom last month. Verrett's best career start was Aug. 23, 2015, at Coors Field when he allowed one run and four hits over eight innings, striking out eight. Carlos Gonzalez is 1-for-3 with a homer off him. The Rockies go with Eddie Butler, one of their top prospects. Butler (1-1, 3.86) shut out the Giants on four hits over six innings on Sunday. Only a few Mets have faced him. Curtis Granderson is 1-for-2 with a homer. Yoenis Cespedes is 1-for-3 with a double.
Key trends: The Rockies are 1-8 in Butler's past nine vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-2 in his past seven vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Mets and over.
Giants at Diamondbacks (-130, 9)
I'm probably going to preview every Giants game when Jake Peavy starts because if you aren't betting against San Francisco when he does go, then you aren't paying attention. Peavy (1-4, 8.47) actually lowered his ERA in losing his last start to Toronto, allowing three runs over five innings. He also walked five. Peavy has one quality start all year. He took a no-decision vs. Arizona on April 18, allowing four runs over five innings. Peavy is 0-3 with a 14.25 ERA on the road this season. Paul Goldschmidt is 3-for-9 off him with a homer. Jean Segura is 4-for-13. It's lefty Patrick Corbin (1-3, 4.12) for the Snakes. He had his best start of the season Sunday, shutting out the sorry Braves on five hits over seven innings in Atlanta. He hasn't faced San Francisco this season. Angel Pagan is 9-for-28 with three doubles off him. Pagan is expected to return this weekend after not playing since May 1 with a hamstring injury.
Key trends: The Giants are 7-0 in Peavy's past seven on Saturday. The Diamondbacks are 8-2 in Corbin's past 10 on that day. The over is 6-1 in Peavy's past seven. It is 4-1 in his past five vs. Arizona.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and over.
Angels at Mariners (-165, 7.5)
How decimated is the Angels rotation? They were so desperate they traded a prospect, albeit not a good one, to Atlanta this week for a guy who was 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in the weaker National League (weaker because no DH). That was Jhoulys Chacin, and he will make his American League debut in this game. Since the Rockies designated him for assignment during 2015 spring training, this will be Chacin's fifth organization (three of them spent in the minors). Chacin gave up eight runs in 4.2 innings against the Mets in his last outing on May 4. He has never faced Seattle. The Mariners go with Hisashi Iwakuma (1-4, 4.19). He pitched well at the Angels on April 22, allowing two runs and six hits in a season-high eight innings but got a no-decision. He's 8-3 with a 2.67 ERA in 15 career games vs. the Halos. Albert Pujols hits .143 off him in 42 at-bats with nine strikeouts. Kole Calhoun is 6-for-24 with two solo homers. Mike Trout 9-for-39 with 11 strikeouts.
Key trends: The Angels are 1-4 in their past five Saturday games. Seattle is 10-2 in Iwakuma's past 12 in Game 2 of a series. The over is 4-1 in his past five on five days of rest.
Early lean: Mariners and over.
Cardinals at Dodgers (-109, 7)
Certainly the marquee series of the weekend as each franchise has won its division the past three years. St. Louis definitely isn't winning the Central in 2016, but the Dodgers could take the very mediocre NL West. The Cards' Carlos Martinez (4-2, 2.61) was to pitch Thursday but was pushed back here due to illness. He left a May 6 start vs. Pittsburgh early due to a respiratory ailment. Apparently he has lost nearly 15 pounds since then. I wonder how much stamina he would have here. Not many Dodgers have had success off him. Yasiel Puig is one, going 3-for-5. Adrian Gonzalez is 1-for-10 with two strikeouts. Carl Crawford is 2-for-3. It's lefty Scott Kazmir, a guy the Cardinals looked into this winter, for L.A. Kazmir (2-3, 5.54) has given up four runs exactly in four of his past five starts. Homers have been a big problem for him this season with nine allowed. He has allowed multiple home runs in four of his seven starts. The Cards' Matt Holliday is 4-for-9 off him with two homers.
Key trends: The Cardinals are 13-3 in Martinez's past 16 road starts. L.A. is 1-5 in Kazmir's past six starts. The under is 4-1 in Martinez's past five road starts vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
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