Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 7/28/2017, Opening Line Report
When you are a bad team at this point in the season - i.e. a few days ahead of the trade deadline - you are caught in a bit of a Catch-22. You don't want to sit your most tradeable players as you still need to try, especially at home. But you also don't want to risk injury to them. The Cincinnati Reds are unquestionably sellers ahead of Monday's non-waiver trade deadline. Unfortunately for them, their top trade chip is likely shortstop Zack Cozart, and there are really no contenders that need a shortstop … unless Houston wants Carlos Correa insurance. Well, Cozart left Tuesday's game with an injured quad, didn't play Wednesday, and that could torpedo any chances of the Reds dealing the free-agent-to-be. Cozart has been dealing with the injury since mid-May and has already required one disabled list stint. He aggravated it Tuesday as a pinch-hitter. Cozart is having a career season, batting .317 with 12 homers and a .402 on-base percentage. He was the NL's starting shortstop in the All-Star Game. Note: individual trends not available for Friday's games.
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Rockies at Nationals ( -140, 9.5 )
Monitor the status of Colorado 1B/OF Ian Desmond as he injured his calf earlier this week. Desmond originally injured his calf July 2, was placed on the disabled list July 3 and missed nine games before returning to the active roster July 16. The Rox start rookie German Marquez (8-4, 4.20) in the series opener. He has thrown three straight quality outings and won each of them. Before this string, he hadn't won since June 14. His season debut was April 25 vs. Washington and he was bombed for eight runs in four innings. Daniel Murphy is 3-for-3 off him with five RBIs. The Nationals' Tanner Roark (8-6, 4.83) won in Arizona last time out, allowing two runs and striking out a season-high 11. He won in Colorado on April 26 (5 IP, 2 ER). Charlie Blackmon is 2-for-2 with a double off him.
Key trends: The Rockies are 18-20 as a road dog this year. The Nationals are 26-20 as a home favorite. The "over/under" is 7-3 in the past 10 between these two.
Early lean: Nationals and over.
Royals at Red Sox (-177, 9)
There were rumors that the Red Sox were eyeing Cozart but to play him at third base. That's dead now that the Sox have called up top prospect Rafael Devers, a third baseman, and traded for Giants utility man Eduardo Nunez as insurance at the hot corner in case Devers is overwhelmed. Nunez, who has been raking since June 1, will join the team on Friday. He also has played second, short and both corner outfield positions in his career. Boston starts lefty David Price (5-3, 3.82). He struggled Saturday at the Angels, allowing six runs in five innings. Not many Royals hit him well, but Salvador Perez is 5-for-14 with three homers off Price. Royals All-Star southpaw Jason Vargas (12-4, 3.08) hasn't won in his past three and only totaled 12.2 innings in that stretch. His ERA in July is 9.95. Boston's Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are both 2-for-3 off him.
Key trends: The Royals are 5-8 this year following a day off. The Red Sox are 25-30 after a win. The over has hit in six of the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: Red Sox and under.
Orioles at Rangers (-131, 11)
These two teams are considered on the fence in regards to selling or not ahead of the deadline. It sounds as if both GMs are leaning toward yes. Both have guys who would bring back a nice haul in Orioles reliever Zach Britton and Rangers starter Yu Darvish. Baltimore's Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.01) has been a disaster this season. That win came in his season debut on May 7. He was good in July 17 no-decision vs. Texas (6 IP, 1 ER). Adrian Beltre is 8-for-18 against Tillman with a homer. Texas' Andrew Cashner (5-8, 3.64) has received a decision in 10 straight starts, which is unusual. He lost in Baltimore opposite Tillman, allowing three runs in 6.2 innings. Seth Smith is 3-for-7 off him with two doubles and a homer.
Key trends: The Rangers are 18-9 as a home favorite. The Orioles are 23-37 as a dog home or away. The O/U is 5-5 in the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: Rangers and over.
Cubs at Brewers (+125, 9)
Should be a fun atmosphere in Beer Town this weekend as it's an unexpectedly big series and Cubs fans show up in droves in Milwaukee. The Brewers have recalled their top prospect, center fielder Lewis Brinson, from the minors. Brinson struggled in 31 at-bats earlier this season in the majors but was killing it in Triple-A and should play every day. The Cubs start lefty Jose Quintana (6-8, 4.22), his third since a trade from the White Sox. He has won both but wasn't quite as sharp last time out vs. the Cardinals (6 IP, 3 ER). Quintana hasn't personally lost since June 11. Only a few Brewers have seen him. Travis Shaw is 1-for-7 with an RBI. Milwaukee lefty Brent Suter (1-1, 2.84) allowed one run over six innings in Philadelphia last time out. He has given up four runs in 1.1 innings of relief vs. the Cubs in 2017.
Key trends: The Cubs are 21-16 as a road favorite this year. The Brewers are 10-16 as home dogs. The over has hit in eight of the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: Cubs on runline and under.
Diamondbacks at Cardinals (-115, 8)
The Cardinals lost outfielder Dexter Fowler and pitcher Adam Wainwright to the DL earlier this week but called up arguably their top position player prospect in outfielder Harrison Bader from Triple-A Memphis. The 2015 third-round pick from the University of Florida was 1-for-4 in his debut and likely stays up until at least Fowler returns. The Cards start Michael Wacha (7-4, 3.93) here. His four-start winning streak ended Sunday night at the Cubs as he surrendered five runs in six innings. Wacha might have been a bit tired coming off the first complete game of his career. Arizona's A.J. Pollock is 2-for-4 off him with a homer. Snakes All-Star lefty Robbie Ray (9-5, 3.15) lost to Washington on Sunday, giving up five runs over five. The Cards' Jedd Gyorko is 1-for-4 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Snakes are 48-31 against right-handers this year, while the Cardinals are 11-12 vs. lefties. The over is 8-2 in the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and under.
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