Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 7/27/2017, Opening Line Report
At BetOnline , Yankees rookie Aaron Judge remains the -145 favorite to become the AL MVP and become the third player in history to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. My money, however, will be going on Houston's Jose Altuve, whom I thought should have won MVP last year. He's down to +125 and could do something incredible this month: hit at least .500. Only seven players with a minimum of 80 plate appearances have ever hit .500 for a calendar month. Hall of Famers and hitting machines like Ted Williams, Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs never did. It hasn't happened since Ivan Rodriguez in 2004. Harry Heilmann accomplished it in August 1927 and then it didn't occur again until Colorado's Todd Helton in May 2000. The best average on that list belongs to George Sisler, who hit .526 in 131 plate appearances in June 1920. The only player to do it twice is "Shoeless" Joe Jackson in May 1913 and June 1916. No player has even hit .450 in a month since 2010. Altuve is easily my favorite player not playing for my favorite team. The guy is 5-foot-6 (maybe)!
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Brewers at Nationals ( -225, 8 )
A 12:05 p.m. ET first pitch on the MLB Network. Washington's Max Scherzer could really take control of the NL Cy Young race with a dominant outing here thanks to Clayton Kershaw's injury. Scherzer (11-5, 2.26) comes off perhaps his worst outing of the season, allowing five runs and three homers in just five innings of a loss in Arizona. The Snakes went back-to-back-to-back off him in the first innings. It's the first time in Scherzer's career he had allowed three straight homers. He was 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA last year vs. Milwaukee. Ryan Braun is 0-for-13 off him with five strikeouts. The Brewers' Matt Garza (4-5, 3.83) has lasted only five innings in each of his past two starts, both Brewers losses. He allowed seven earned runs in 4.1 innings vs. Washington last July the most recent time he saw the Nats. Ryan Zimmermann is 8-for-18 against him with a homer and six walks.
Key trends: The Brewers are 2-7 in Garza's past nine vs. teams with a winning record. The Nats are 5-1 in Scherzer's past six at home. The "over/under" has gone under in six straight Garza starts and in seven of Scherzer's past eight on Thursday.
Early lean: Nats on runline and under.
Rays at Yankees (-105, 8.5)
Also on the MLB Network at 7:05 p.m. ET. These AL East rivals could meet in the wild-card game, although there are a handful of teams still in that mix. The Rays are also trending in the wrong direction at the moment. They start ace Chris Archer (7-6, 3.77). He lost to Texas last time out, allowing four runs and seven hits over seven innings with 11 strikeouts. Only one of those runs was earned. Archer is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in two starts this year against New York. Jacoby Ellsbury doesn't play every day at this point but may be in there Thursday considering he's 20-for-40 off Archer with two homers. Judge is 1-for-6 with four strikeouts. The Yankees' CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.44) won a second straight start Friday, allowing one run over five in Seattle. He's 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA in two starts this year vs. Tampa. Evan Longoria is a career .405 hitter off him with seven homers and nine doubles in 74 at-bats.
Key trends: The Rays are 1-7 in Archer's past eight vs. the Yankees. The over is 8-3 in the past 11 meetings between the teams in New York.
Early lean: Yankees and under.
Reds at Marlins (-140, 9.5)
Miami has placed first baseman and Home Run Derby participant Justin Bour on the 10-day disabled list with a right oblique strain. It's Bour's second DL stint of the year, after an ankle injury kept him out for about a week and a half in June. He's hitting .289 with 21 homers and 63 RBIs. The Marlins go with Chris O'Grady (1-1, 5.40). It's the fourth start of the season for the 27-year-old rookie. He has allowed three earned in each of the first three but not lasted more than 5.1 innings and has 10 walks. He pitched in Cincinnati on Saturday (4.2 IP, 6 BB). The Reds' Robert Stephenson (0-3, 8.10) made his 14th appearance of the year but first start Saturday vs. Miami and surrendered five runs in 5.1 innings in the loss. J.T. Realmuto homered twice against him.
Key trends: The Reds have dropped seven straight series openers. They are 0-5 in their past five in Miami. The over is 5-1 in Stephenson's previous six starts.
Early lean: Marlins and over.
Cubs at White Sox (+199, 10)
The only interleague game on the abbreviated Thursday schedule with the Cubs adding the DH again. Last meeting of the season between these teams. They have split the past two years. It's lefty Jon Lester for the Cubs, and he's a terrible hitter so it's a great time for him to pitch. Lester (7-6, 3.95) beat the Cardinals on Saturday, allowing two runs and three hits over eight with 10 strikeouts. He's 6-6 with a 4.43 ERA in 14 career starts vs. the White Sox. Jose Abreu is 4-for-9 career against him with two RBIs and four strikeouts. The Pale Hose's Mike Pelfrey (3-7, 4.46) walked six Royals in five innings last time out but allowed only one run and two hits in a no-decision. He hasn't won since June 17. Only three Cubs have seen him. Jason Heyward is 6-for-18 with a homer.
Key trends: The Cubs are 11-2 in Lester's past 13 road starts vs. teams with a losing record. The Sox are 0-7 in their past seven vs. lefties. The over is 7-2-1 in Lester's past 10 road starts vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Cubs and over.
Mets at Padres (+101, 8.5)
The Mets have lost another starting pitcher, Zack Wheeler, to the DL. He's dealing with a stress reaction in his pitching arm - not a great sign after missing the past two seasons, but the Mets don't think it's serious and just normal wear-and-tear. He is the seventh Mets starting pitcher to go on the disabled list this season. The team will promote Chris Flexen from Double-A to make his major-league debut. The 23-year-old was a 14th-round pick in the 2012 draft. He has a 1.66 ERA in in 48 2⁄3 innings with Binghamton this season. Flexen had Tommy John surgery in 2014. San Diego's Luis Perdomo (4-5, 4.71) allowed one earned run over six innings in a no-decision against the Giants in his last start. He leads the majors with a 65.3 ground-ball percentage. The only Met to have faced him is Jay Bruce (1-3, HR).
Key trends: The Padres are 4-0 in Perdomo's past four at home. The over is 7-3 in his past 10 there.
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