Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/15/2017, Opening Line Report
The Washington Nationals' chances of reaching the first World Series in franchise history remain alive. I'm not saying that's going to happen, but I would have felt quite confident in saying it wouldn't have if star outfielder Bryce Harper had suffered a season-ending knee injury. It sure looked bad when Harper slipped on a wet first base in the first inning of Saturday's 3-1 victory over the Giants. While trying to avoid contact with first baseman Ryder Jones before his left foot slipped on the base, Harper's leg buckled, he went airborne and he fell to the ground. However, the Nationals "dodged a bullet" as GM Mike Rizzo said as Harper didn't suffer any ligament or tendon damage in that left knee. He's on the disabled list and is going to be out a while but should be back before the end of the regular season. If that's the case and Harper doesn't fall out of rhythm, this isn't that big of a deal because Washington is going to win the NL East and be the second seed in the Senior Circuit regardless. It hurts Harper in the wallet as I'm assuming he has some sort of bonus for winning the NL MVP and might have as he's hitting .326 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs. Don't see that happening now. Of course, Harper won the 2015 MVP.
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Astros at Diamondbacks ( +111, 9.5 )
Only matinee on the schedule with a 3:40 p.m. ET start time on the MLB Network. Houston will lose the designated hitter, which is normally Carlos Beltran, in this interleague matchup. The Astros really don't want the 40-year-old playing the outfield so I'm presuming he'll just pinch-hit. Houston starts Brad Peacock (10-1, 3.07). The former reliever comes off a no-decision at the White Sox, allowing one run over 6.1 innings. Peacock is 7-1 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 starts. Paul Goldschmidt is 1-for-2 off him with a solo homer. Arizona rookie lefty Anthony Banda (1-2, 4.60) has made three big-league starts. He lasted only four innings last time out vs. the Dodgers, surrendering three runs. No Astros have faced him.
Key trends: The Astros are 0-5 in their past five Game 2s of a series. The Diamondbacks are 12-5 in their past 17 on Tuesday. The "over/under" is 5-2 in Houston's past seven on Tuesday.
Early lean: Astros and over.
Tigers at Rangers (+103, 10.5)
Fox Sports 1 game. The Tigers will hang on to second baseman Ian Kinsler even though they probably would have preferred not to. An undisclosed team claimed him on waivers but said team and the Tigers couldn't work out a trade. Now Kinsler has to finish the year in Motown, but could be dealt this offseason. The Tigers might be without first baseman Miguel Cabrera for a little while after he sat Sunday with lower back and hip stiffness. He's just not the same guy any longer, batting .253 with 13 homers and 53 RBIs. That eight-year, $248 million deal he got before the 2016 season is really going to be an albatross soon for the franchise. The Tigers start Justin Verlander (8-7, 3.97). He was dominant Wednesday vs. the Pirates in allowing just one hit over eight innings in winning a third straight start. He's 3-2 with a 1.91 ERA over his last seven starts. Verlander beat Texas on May 20 (7 IP, 3 ER). Texas' A.J. Griffin (5-3, 5.40) has made two starts since missing almost three months on the disabled list. He was bombed opposite Verlander on May 20 (3.1 IP, 9 ER). He surely wouldn't mind if Cabrera is out considering Cabrera is 6-for-13 with three homers against Griffin.
Key trends: The Tigers are 1-7 in Verlander's past eight on the road. The Rangers are 6-0 in Griffin's past six at home. The over is 8-3 in his previous 11 overall.
Early lean: Rangers and over.
Pirates at Brewers (-123, 9.5)
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said he expects third baseman Travis Shaw to return for this series opener against the Pirates. He fouled a couple pitches off his foot on Saturday and was seen in a walking boot but apparently is feeling much better. He might be the most improved player in MLB this season, hitting .292 with 25 homers and 78 RBIs. The Brewers absolutely stole him in a trade from Boston. Milwaukee's Zach Davies (13-6, 4.40) was tagged for six earned runs on a career-high 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings Thursday, snapping his career-best streak of four straight starts with at least seven innings. Davies is 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA in three starts vs. Pittsburgh this year. Andrew McCutchen is 4-for-10 off him with a homer. The Pirates' Ivan Nova (10-9, 3.87) was roughed up for six runs over 6.1 innings in Detroit last time out. He's 1-1 with a 4.85 ERA this year vs. Pittsburgh. Shaw destroys the guy, going 10-for-13 with three homers.
Key trends: The Bucs are 1-6 in Nova's past seven on the road. The Brewers are 9-4 in their past 13 series openers. The under is 8-3 in Nova's past 11. It's under in the past eight between these teams in Milwaukee.
Early lean: Brewers and under.
Braves at Rockies (-150, 11.5)
Colorado avoided disaster on All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado, an NL MVP candidate himself. He was hit on the left hand with a pitch on Sunday, but X-rays were negative. He's hitting .311 with 26 homers and an NL-best 100 RBIs. Ryan McMahon will likely start at third base for any time Arenado ends up missing. Colorado lefty Kyle Freeland (11-7, 3.70) makes his first start since a left groin strain landed him on the disabled list Aug. 5. The rookie has never faced Atlanta. The Braves counter with a rookie southpaw of their own in Sean Newcomb (1-7, 4.45). They have dropped his past six largely because they aren't scoring in his starts. It's his first career outing in the thin air of Denver and vs. the Rockies.
Key trends: The Braves have dropped seven straight Newcomb starts. The Rockies are 5-1 in Freeland's past six at home. The over is 5-2 in Atlanta's past seven vs. a lefty.
Early lean: Rockies and over.
White Sox at Dodgers (-360, 8)
Also an MLB Network game. You hear some rumblings that the White Sox could trade Tuesday's starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez in a waiver deal. The Sox have little use for him as Gonzalez will be a free agent after the season. Gonzalez's former team, the Orioles, has been linked to him. Gonzalez (6-10, 4.85) comes off a win over Houston, allowing one run and five hits over eight innings. He lost to the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw on July 18 (6 IP, 1 ER). Chris Taylor is 6-for-10 career off him. L.A. lefty Alex Wood (14-1, 2.37) continues to build his case for Cy Young consideration. The Dodgers have won his past three since that lone loss. It's his first career look at the Pale Hose.
Key trends: The Sox are 3-13 in their previous 16 vs. a lefty. The Dodgers are 14-2 in Wood's past 16 at home. The over is 9-2 in his past 11 vs. clubs with a losing record.
Early lean: Dodgers on runline and over.
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