In my opinion, the most fascinating team ahead of the July 31 trade deadline could be the Atlanta Braves. They have overachieved a bit this season and surprisingly got back star first baseman Freddie Freeman from a broken wrist on Tuesday - a good couple of weeks before original projections. Freeman also has moved to third base because Matt Adams has hit so well playing first. What does the Atlanta front office do here? This team is probably not good enough to get a wild-card spot and is well back of Colorado, which currently holds the NL's second spot. However, when you are in Year 1 of a new stadium, you want to show your fans you are dedicated to winning going forward. So don't be surprised if the Braves are in the bidding for someone like White Sox ace Jose Quintana, who is signed through the end of the decade. Atlanta's farm system is loaded so it could win the bidding for just about anyone potentially available. Personally, I'd wait until this offseason and make a push in 2018, but I understand why the Braves might want to build some second-half momentum toward contention next year.
Free $60 in Member MLB Picks No Obligation Click Here
Giants at Tigers ( -104, 9.5 )
Will Detroit have Miguel Cabrera for this getaway day game at 1:10 p.m. ET? This actually seems like one he might get off regardless, but he left Tuesday's matchup against the Giants with left hip tightness. With the break upcoming, the Tigers might just play this safe and get him extra time off. Detroit starts Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 6.34). Remember when he was one of the better pitchers in the American League a few years ago? He was horrible early this season and sent to Triple-A and has been better since returning. He's 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in five starts against the Giants but hasn't seen them since 2012. The Giants' Johnny Cueto (6-7, 4.26) won for the first time since May 28 last time out, allowing three runs over five in Pittsburgh. Cabrera, if he plays, is 4-for-8 off him with a homer and five RBIs. Justin Upton is 6-for-20 with two homers.
Key trends: The Giants are 9-4 in Cueto's past 13 road starts vs. teams with a losing record. The Tigers are 0-4 in Sanchez's past four interleague starts. The "over/under" is 7-2-3 in Cueto's past 12 vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Giants and over.
Brewers at Cubs (-155, TBA)
MLB Network game at 2:20 p.m. ET. If you have one of those old-school wall calendars or something for the Brewers' or Cubs' schedule this season, you won't find this one on there. It's a makeup game from one rained out at Wrigley Field on Saturday, May 20. These two haven't played since that series. Chicago starts lefty Mike Montgomery (1-5, 2.80), who has done a fine job since moving from the bullpen -- and I doubt he goes back again. He is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in four relief appearances this year vs. Milwaukee. Travis Shaw is 3-for-8 against him with a homer and two RBIs. The Brewers' Zach Davies (9-4, 5.03) obviously is the beneficiary of good run support with that record and ERA. He lost to the Cubs on April 9 (5 IP, 5 ER). Kris Bryant is 8-for-17 off him with three extra-base hits.
Key trends: The Cubs are 6-1 in Davies' past seven on the road. The Cubs are 1-6 in Montgomery's past seven starts. The over is 4-0 in Davies' past four vs. Chicago.
Early lean: Cubs.
Red Sox at Rays (+143, 7.5)
It's Chris Sale on the mound for Boston, and I'm assuming that the next time he's on the bump will be in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday in Miami as the AL's starting pitcher in the All-Star Game. Sale (11-3, 2.61) will be plenty rested to throw a couple of innings, and his numbers speak for themselves. He was spectacular Saturday in Toronto in throwing seven shutout innings and whiffing 11. Sale is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts this year vs. the Rays. He has 24 strikeouts in 14 innings. Evan Longoria might get the game off since he's 2-for-27 off Sale with 11 strikeouts. Tampa's Jacob Faria (3-0, 2.23) has made five starts in his rookie season and they've all been quality. Since the start of 2013, just two other pitchers have begun their careers with five consecutive quality starts. Faria hasn't faced Boston.
Key trends: The Sox are 4-0 in their past four series openers. Boston is 8-3 in its past 11 vs. Tampa Bay. The under is 5-1 in the previous six at the Rays.
Early lean: Red Sox and under.
Orioles at Twins (-146, 10)
Also an MLB Network game. Baltimore welcomed back 2016 All-Star closer Zach Britton on Wednesday in a finale against Milwaukee. As good as Britton is, and he had one of the best seasons in MLB history last year, I'm not sure he solves all the problems on that lousy pitching staff. Well, if the starters can get through six innings or so then the Orioles might be OK as Buck Showalter will now have his four big four big late-inning relievers - Britton, Brady Brach, Darren O'Day and Mychal Givens - together and healthy for the first time since April. Baltimore's Dylan Bundy (8-7, 4.02) was knocked around for five runs and three homers over four last time out vs. Tampa. His ERA was 2.93 not long ago so Bundy might be hitting the wall. Minnesota's Jose Berrios (7-2, 3.44) has allowed nine runs and 17 hits over 11.1 innings in his past two, and he also might be hitting the proverbial wall.
Key trends: The Orioles are 1-6 in their past seven series openers. They are 2-6 in their past eight in Minnesota. The under is 9-3 in the past 12 meetings.
Early lean: Twins and under.
Diamondbacks at Dodgers (-155, 7.5)
Arizona lefty Robbie Ray was named an All-Star for the first time - he always had the stuff but struggled to control it consistently. Ray (8-4, 3.06) is third in the NL in strikeouts but also third in walks, so maybe he still doesn't have total control. He's the fourth southpaw in Diamondbacks history to be an All-Star and the third-youngest pitcher in team history at 25. He's 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA in two starts this year against the Dodgers. Yasiel Puig is 6-for-19 against him with a homer. Enrique Hernandez should get a start as he's 7-for-18 off him with three homers. L.A. lefty Rich Hill (5-4, 4.00) comes off his best start of the season, seven shutout innings and a career-high 11 strikeouts against the Padres. He even had his first two hits since 2009. Hill lost to Arizona on April 16 (3IP, 2 ER). Chris Iannetta is 2-for-7 with two solo homers vs. Hill.
Key trends: The Diamondbacks are 4-1 in Ray's past five vs. the Dodgers. The under is 4-1 in those five. The under is 8-2 in Hill's past 10 at home.
Doc's Sports MLB handicapping team is offering $60 worth of member's baseball picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - Claim your free MLB picks here now. Also, for a limited time only get three MLB handicappers for the price of one. Click here for details . Get free MLB picks daily at Doc's Sports baseball predictions page .
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent Baseball Handicapping Articles
- 2017 World Series Predictions
- Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 9/2/2017, Opening Line Report
- Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 9/1/2017, Opening Line Report
- Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/31/2017, Opening Line Report
- Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/30/2017, Opening Line Report
- Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/29/2017, Opening Line Report
- Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/26/2017, Opening Line Report
- Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/25/2017, Opening Line Report
- Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/24/2017, Opening Line Report
- Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/23/2017, Opening Line Report