Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 7/26/2017, Opening Line Report
Here's hoping you took my advice during the All-Star break when I recommended betting on slight underdog Max Scherzer of the Nationals to repeat as the Cy Young winner this year over three-time winner and favored Clayton Kershaw. You can all but rule out Kershaw from that race as he's expected to miss 4-6 weeks following an initial diagnosis of an injured back. He's still going to see a specialist, but the Dodgers feel confident about that timeline and that he won't miss two-and-a-half months like he did last year with a herniated disk. It's amazing how much can change in just one game for a rampaging team like the Dodgers. Kershaw exited his start after two innings Sunday, Kenley Jansen blew a three-run lead and Brandon McCarthy landed on the disabled list. Do the Dodgers now give up a top prospect or two to get a rental starting pitcher? In one regard, that's silly because L.A. will win the NL West whether Kershaw pitches this year or not. But L.A. is thinking much bigger than the division title. It's also worth noting that the team survived without Kershaw last season. The Dodgers went 34-24 over the 58 games that Kershaw missed. Should he miss six weeks, that would put his return at almost the exact date he came back last season: Sept. 9. Plenty of time to get in rhythm for the postseason. Kershaw has an opt-out clause in his contract after next season. I wonder if these back problems might convince him to not take that option.
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Reds at Yankees ( -228, 9 )
MLB Network game at 1:05 p.m. ET. The Reds add the designated hitter. Cincinnati's Homer Bailey (2-4, 8.56) has had six starts this year, and they have been quite odd: three were quality and three he was torched. It was the good Bailey in his most recent outing vs. Miami with two runs allowed over six innings. He still lost. Matt Holliday has seen him more than any Yankee, going 14-for-43 with five doubles, two homers and eight homers. New York's Luis Severino (6-4, 3.21) outdueled Felix Hernandez on Thursday in Seattle, shutting out the Mariners on eight hits over seven innings. It was Severino's first win since June 10. No Reds have faced the 23-year-old.
Key trends: The Reds are 3-9 in Severino's past 12 interleague starts. The Yankees are 4-1 in Severino's past five at home. The "over/under" has gone under in nine of Bailey's past 12 on the road. The over is 3-1-1 in Severino's past five at home vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Yankees on runline and over.
Red Sox at Mariners (+194, 8)
A 3:40 p.m. ET series finale. Boston's Chris Sale remains the heavy -450 favorite to win his first Cy Young Award. Sale (12-4, 2.48) shut out the Angels on four hits over six innings with nine strikeouts last time out and became the fourth pitcher in MLB history to reach 200 strikeouts in 20 or fewer starts, joining Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Nolan Ryan. Sale reached that number in only 141⅓ innings, fewer than any American League pitcher. Johnson did it in 143 innings in 1995, and Martinez got to 200 in 147 innings in 1999. Sale is on track to win the pitching Triple Crown in the AL (wins, innings and Ks). Seattle's Kyle Seager is just 1-for-13 off him with four strikeouts. The Mariners' Andrew Moore (1-2, 5.70) is one of the franchise's top prospects and makes his sixth career start. He has allowed five earned in each of his past two and nine homers in just 30 innings. It's his first look at Boston.
Key trends: The Red Sox are 5-2 in Sale's past seven on the road. The under is 4-1 in his past five.
Early lean: Red Sox and under.
Cubs at White Sox (+185, 9.5)
ESPN game as the Crosstown Classic, or whatever nickname they have for this nowadays, shifts from Wrigley Field to Guaranteed Rate Field. The Cubs add the DH and that almost surely will be Kyle Schwarber. The visitors start Jake Arrieta, whom I assure you will be angry that he's not allowed to hit because he loves to do so and is pretty good at it. Arrieta (9-7, 4.11) took a no-decision vs. the Cardinals on Friday, allowing two runs over six. He left with the lead, but the bullpen imploded. The White Sox's Jose Abreu is 3-for-8 off him. The White Sox's James Shields was close to being acquired by the Cubs and his former Rays manager Joe Maddon at one point. Shields (2-2, 5.79) has no value now, however. He was roughed up for six runs in Kansas City over 4.1 innings last time out. The Cubs' Jason Heyward is 2-for-8 against Shields with a homer.
Key trends: The Cubs are 5-1 in Arrieta's past six interleague starts. The Sox are 1-5 in Shields' past six. The over is 4-1 in Arrieta's past five interleague starts.
Early lean: Cubs and over.
Marlins at Rangers (-178, 10)
Reports are that Texas GM Jon Daniels will wait until the last possible minute to decide whether to trade free-agent-to-be Yu Darvish (6-8, 3.44) ahead of the July 31 trade deadline or make a wild-card push. So this could easily be Darvish's final start in a Rangers uniform, and if I'm a betting man I say that it is. The Rangers are in the catbird's seat because Houston, the Yankees and the Dodgers all want him and have rich farm systems. Darvish won for the first time since June 12 last time out, allowing three runs and striking out a season-high 12 over eight innings at Tampa Bay. Not too many Marlins, who add the DH, have seen him. Red-hot Giancarlo Stanton is 1-for-4. Miami's Jose Urena (8-4, 3.78) beat the Reds in his last outing, allowing one run and three hits over six innings. The only Ranger to have seen him is Jonathan Lucroy (1-for-2).
Key trends: The Marlins are 6-1 in Urena's past seven on the road. The Rangers are 0-5 in Darvish's past five at home. The under is 10-2 in Darvish's past 12 interleague starts.
Early lean: Rangers and under.
Twins at Dodgers (-203, 8)
Minnesota loses the DH. I keep simply assuming that Scherzer will now win the NL Cy Young, but perhaps I shouldn't completely overlook Dodgers lefty Alex Wood (11-1, 2.17). Although he comes off easily his worst start of the season, allowing nine runs and two homers over 4.2 innings vs. his former Braves team. Wood allowed a career high in runs and a season high in hits while throwing a season-most 100 pitches. He hadn't lost at home since Sept. 22, 2015.In Wood's previous 12 starts, he notched 10 wins while allowing a total of 10 earned runs in 73 innings. The only Twin to have seen Wood is Jason Castro (0-for-3). Minnesota's Ervin Santana (11-7, 3.26) has come back to earth a bit and allowed five runs over 3.1 innings in his most recent start vs. Detroit. The Dodgers' Yasiel Puig is 0-for-3 off him with three Ks.
Key trends: The Twins are 7-2 in Santana's past nine on the road. The Dodgers are 7-1 in Wood's past eight at home. The under is 14-3 in Santana's past 17 road starts vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Twins on runline and under.
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