Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 7/20/2017, Opening Line Report
It's a good thing that the Houston Astros have the largest division lead in baseball because they have lost their best player, All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa, for 6-8 weeks, to a torn ligament in his left thumb. That ends his chances at winning the AL MVP. Correa exited in the middle of his at-bat in the fourth inning Monday vs. Seattle after feeling pain on a swing. The former AL Rookie of the Year injured the same thumb on July 4 during a game in Atlanta. Correa, 22, is hitting .320 with 20 homers and 67 RBIs for the Astros.He was hitting .442 in his previous 12 games with six homers and 18 RBIs. For Houston, this really isn't a huge deal as long as Correa is back when expected and doesn't miss a beat. The Astros have such a big lead in the division that the AL West is already won. It also has a sizable lead for the AL's top seed - catching the Dodgers for the best overall record in baseball and potential home-field advantage in that World Series matchup could be affected by this. It's possible the Astros pick up some veteran utility-type shortstop as Correa insurance while he's out.
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Cardinals at Mets ( -107, 9 )
MLB Network game with a first pitch of 12:10 p.m. ET. I now give the Pirates a better playoff shot now than the Cardinals - SI.com projected St. Louis not just to miss the playoffs but also fire Manager Mike Matheny after the season, and I tend to agree with both. It's potential trade candidate Lance Lynn on the mound for the Cards. Lynn (8-6, 3.40) will never have more value as he hasn't allowed a run in his past two starts spanning 13.1 innings. One of those was July 9 vs. the Mets (7 IP, 3 H). New York's Jay Bruce is 15-for-36 career off him with six extra-base hits and 11 RBIs. The Mets' Seth Lugo (4-2, 4.50) pitched three innings of relief vs. the Cards on July 9 (2 H, 1 ER) and then was back in the rotation Saturday and beat the Rockies (6.2 IP, 3 ER).
Key trends: The Cardinals are 2-5 in Lynn's past seven on the road. The Mets are 5-1 in Lugo's previous six at home. The "over/under" has gone under in Lynn's past four against New York.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
Brewers at Pirates (-129, 8.5)
Start time of 12:35 p.m. ET. The Brewers will be without catcher Stephen Vogt for at least a month. He was crushed in a home-plate collision on Monday by Pirates base-runner and pitcher Chad Kuhl (which apparently was legal). Vogt escaped a concussion but an MRI revealed a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. He has been a solid waiver-wire pickup from Oakland, hitting .250 with four home runs and nine RBIs. over 12 games. The Brew Crew start Jimmy Nelson (8-4, 3.27) here. He hasn't lost since June 23 with four straight quality starts. Nelson has thrown three scoreless innings vs. Pittsburgh this year. Marte is 8-for-21 career off him. McCutchen is 6-for-19 with a homer. The Bucs' Jameson Taillon (5-3, 3.06) brought back-to-back scoreless outings into his last start vs. St. Louis but allowed four runs in five innings in a loss. He went 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA against Milwaukee last year and has not faced them this season. Hernan Perez should get a start as he's 5-for-9 career off Taillon with three homers.
Key trends: The Brewers are 4-1 in Nelson's past five on the road. The Pirates are 10-2 in Taillon's past 12 pitching on four days of rest. The over is 6-2 in Nelson's last eight vs. Pittsburgh.
Early lean: Pirates and under.
Rangers at Orioles (+115, 10)
Also an MLB Network game at 7:05 p.m. ET. Texas could be a wild-card team if southpaw Cole Hamels keeps going like he has. Hamels (4-0, 3.05) blanked the Royals in Kansas City over 7.2 innings last time out but took a no-decision. He is working on a string of 21 straight scoreless innings, the longest active streak in the American League. Hamels hasn't seen Baltimore this season and is 1-3 with a 4.32 ERA in five career starts vs. the O's. Mark Trumbo is 6-for-18 against Hamels with two homers. Baltimore lefty Wade Miley (4-8, 5.40) continues to regress as he was bombed for seven runs and nine hits, walking four, over 4.2 innings of a loss to the Cubs in his last outing. It's his first 2017 look at the Rangers. Jonathan Lucroy is 5-for-13 against him with two homers.
Key trends: The Rangers have won five of Hamels' past six on the road against teams with a losing record. The Orioles are 0-4 in their past four at home vs. a lefty. The over is 4-1 in Miley's previous five at home.
Early lean: Rangers and over.
Yankees at Mariners (+103, 8.5)
Third MLB Network game at 10:10 p.m. ET. New York got a lot better Tuesday night when it acquired third baseman Todd Frazier and relievers David Robertson (a one-time Yankees closer) and Tommy Kahnle from the White Sox for three prospects and reliever Tyler Clippard. Frazier can also play first base, which is a need with Greg Bird likely done for the season. Or Chase Headley can move from third to first and Frazier can stay at the hot corner. Yankees-Mariners could be a wild-card game preview as Seattle is surging. New York starts All-Star Luis Severino (5-4, 3.40). He was great in his first start post-break in allowing one run and four hits over seven innings in Boston, albeit in a no-decision. Only a few Mariners have faced him. Robinson Cano is 2-for-3 with an RBI. Seattle's Felix Hernandez (5-3, 4.20) beat the White Sox last time out, allowing one earned over five innings. His game score (73) was a season best and his highest since Sept. 21 of last season. The Yankees' Brett Gardner is a career .364 hitter off him in 33 at-bats.
Key trends: The Yankees are 3-12 in their past 12 vs. the AL West. The Mariners are 10-4 in Hernandez's past 14 at home. The under is 5-2-1 in his past eight vs. New York.
Early lean: Mariners and under.
Padres at Giants (-205, 7.5)
Both these teams already are playing out the string. Giants ace lefty Madison Bumgarner (0-3, 3.18) returned from his long DL stint last on Saturday in San Diego and allowed three runs over seven innings in a no-decision. MadBum has five quality starts in five tries in 2017 and San Francisco is 0-5 in those games. The Padres' Hunter Renfroe is 4-for-7 career against him with two doubles and a homer. Wil Myers is only 5-for-33 with nine Ks. San Diego's Jhoulys Chacin (8-7, 4.33) was opposite Bumgarner on Saturday and surrendered three runs in six innings in a no-decision. Since the beginning of June, Chacin has posted a 2.68 ERA. Buster Posey is 10-for-28 vs. Chacin with a homer. Brandon Belt is just 4-for-26.
Key trends: The Giants are 10-3 in Bumgarner's past 13 at home vs. the Padres. The under is 4-1-1 in Chacin's previous six. It's 5-2 in MadBum's past seven at home vs. teams with a losing record.
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