Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/11/2017, Opening Line Report
The Houston Astros are going to win the AL West, the Washington Nationals will take the NL East and the Los Angeles Dodgers shall claim the NL West for a fifth straight season as all three of those clubs have huge divisional leads. What we don't know yet is which other seven teams will join that trio in the playoffs, but MLB has released the postseason schedule. The AL Wild-Card Game will be Tuesday, Oct. 3 on ESPN and the NL game the next day on TBS. Both ALDS will begin on Oct. 5 and both NLDS on Oct. 6. In fact, Oct. 6 could be the best day of the playoffs because it's the only one guaranteed to have four games - Oct. 9 also could if both ALDS go at least four games. The ALCS start date is Friday, Oct. 13 (Fox owns those rights) and the NLCS (TBS) the next day. The Fall Classic (all on Fox) opener is Tuesday, Oct. 24 at the pennant winner with the best regular-season record, which surely will be the Dodgers if they win the National League. Baseball will drag into November only if there's a World Series Game 7 as that's set for Wednesday, Nov. 1.
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Red Sox at Yankees ( -110, 9.5 )
MLB Network national TV game - shocker, I know. New York could activate outfielder Aaron Hicks for the series opener. He has been out since June 25 with an oblique injury. Hicks was hitting .290 with 10 homers and 37 RBIs in 60 games. It's lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 4.08) for the Red Sox. He hasn't won in four starts since returning from the DL, although he threw a quality start last time out vs. the White Sox. Rodriguez hasn't seen the Yanks this year. Jacoby Ellsbury is 6-for-19 off him with two solo homers. Hicks is 1-for-4. New York southpaw Jaime Garcia (5-8, 4.49) made his Yankee debut last Friday in Cleveland and allowed six runs with four walks in 4.2 innings of a loss. Not too many Red Sox have seen him as Garcia had spent his career in the NL. Hanley Ramirez is 3-for-6 with a double.
Key trends: The Sox are 4-1 in Rodriguez's past five vs. the Yankees. The "over/under" has gone under in six of his past seven against New York. The Sox are 1-6 in their past seven at Yankee Stadium
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Mets at Phillies (-102, 9)
There hasn't been much reason to watch the terrible Phillies for months, but there could be now that the team is expected to call up Rhys Hoskins. He's thought to be a long-term first baseman but has been playing some left field and probably where he begins his MLB career. Hoskins is one of baseball's top power-hitting prospects. If he's up, Hoskins will face the Mets' Seth Lugo (5-3, 4.55). New York has dropped his past two, with Lugo failing to complete six innings in either. Opposing batters are hitting .250 off Lugo their first two times through the order, and .362 after that. He hasn't seen Philadelphia this year. The Phillies' Nick Pivetta (4-7, 5.89) was rocked for eight runs and seven hits over 2.2 innings last time out in Colorado. He won at the Mets on July 2 (7 IP, 1 ER).
Key trends: The Mets are 9-1 in Lugo's past 10 vs. teams with a losing record. The Phils are 4-0 in Pivetta's previous five vs. the NL East. The over is 7-1-1 in Lugo's past nine.
Early lean: Phillies and over.
Royals at White Sox (+150, 9.5)
The White Sox's No. 1 ranked farm system is starting to bear fruit, and another Top 60 prospect, pitcher Reynaldo Lopez, will make his Chicago debut here. Lopez pitched 44 big-league innings for Washington last season and was 5-3 with a 4.91 ERA. He was part of the Adam Eaton offseason trade. Before giving up four runs in five innings Sunday in Triple-A, Lopez had not surrendered more than two runs in his previous seven starts. He has 131 strikeouts in 121 innings in the minors this year. No Royals have faced Lopez. Kansas City lefty Danny Duffy (7-7, 3.48) was roughed up for seven runs (three homers) over 5.2 innings Sunday vs. Seattle. All those runs came in the first two innings. He's an ugly 0-2 with a 11.17 ERA in two starts this year vs. Chicago. Jose Abreu is 13-for-37 career against him.
Key trends: The Royals are 8-0 in their past eight vs. the AL Central. The Sox are 0-5 in their past five on Friday. The under is 6-2 in the previous eight meetings.
Early lean: Royals and under.
Indians at Rays (+126, 8)
Cleveland has lost injury-prone outfielder Michael Brantley back to the disabled list with an ankle injury. He sprained his right ankle Tuesday and had to leave. Brantley spent one stint on the DL earlier this year with a problem to the same ankle. He's hitting .299 with nine homers and 52 RBIs in 88 games. Because of that injury, the Tribe acquired Jay Bruce from the Mets on Wednesday for basically nothing but assuming Bruce's salary. He brings much-needed power to the team. Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco (10-5, 4.06) hasn't won since July 7, and I wonder if he's fully healthy after allowing 10 runs in his past two starts in just 7.1 innings. He took a no-decision on May 15 vs. Tampa Bay (3.2 IP, 5 ER). Evan Longoria is only 3-for-21 against him. Corey Dickerson 0-for-6. Rays rookie Jacob Faria (5-2, 2.81) was a tough-luck loser in his last start, allowing one run with nine strikeouts over six vs. Milwaukee. He hasn't faced the Indians.
Key trends: The Indians are 1-4 in Carrasco's past five. The under is 16-6 in his past 22 on the road. The under is 5-2 in Faria's previous seven.
Early lean: Rays and under.
Braves at Cardinals (-158, 9)
Atlanta has lost shortstop Johan Camargo to the DL with a knee bruise and recalled former No. 1 overall prospect Dansby Swanson. He had struggled in the majors in 2017 and was sent down a few weeks ago to regain confidence. Not sure it worked as Swanson hit only .237 with Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves start Mike Foltynewicz, my least favorite last name to type in the majors. Foltynewicz (10-6, 3.94) dominated the Marlins in his most recent outing with one run allowed and a career-high 11 strikeouts over 6.1 innings. The Cards' Tommy Pham is 2-for-2 off him with a homer. St. Louis starts Adam Wainwright (11-5, 5.00). He returned from the DL on Sunday and lasted only three innings in Cincinnati, surrendering three runs and walking five. Wainwright has been strong at home this season, though, going 7-1 with a 3.19 ERA in 10 starts. Atlanta's Matt Kemp is just 5-for-32 off him.
Key trends: The Braves are 5-1 in Foltynewicz's past six on the road. The Cards are 9-3 in Wainwright's past 12 vs. Atlanta. The over is 4-1 in his past five at home against the Braves.
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