Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/16/2017, Opening Line Report
The most important game for the Dodgers on Wednesday has nothing to do with their big-league club hosting the Chicago White Sox. No, that would be a scheduled simulated game by ace and three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. It's the next step in his recovery from back pain after throwing 35 pitches in a bullpen session on Friday and then 50 on Sunday. The plan is for the lefty to throw a two-inning simulated game at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday. If he's all good after that, the Dodgers think he may need just one true rehab start in the minors. The Dodgers have barely missed a beat without Kershaw, but if he's back and right to form then this team could actually break the MLB record of 117 victories - although I tend to think Manager Dave Roberts will take its foot off the gas next month to ensure guys are rested and healthy for October. Kershaw was 15-2 with a major-league-best 2.04 ERA before the injury.
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Angels at Nationals ( -131, 9 )
A 1:05 p.m. ET first pitch on the MLB Network - sadly no Mike Trout vs. Bryce Harper with Harper's knee injury. We've only seen Trout in the playoffs once in his career but might this October as the Angels have surged into a wild-card spot. They lose the DH for this one. It's Ricky Nolasco on the bump for the Halos. Nolasco (5-12, 5.24) has allowed five earned runs in each of his past two starts, not lasting more than five innings. He also has surrendered a career-high 30 dingers on the season. Washington's Ryan Zimmerman is 14-for-53 off him with three homers. The Nats' Tanner Roark (9-7, 4.74) has allowed two earned runs in back-to-back starts and has an ERA of 2.97 since the All-Star break. Trout is 1-for-3 career off him with a strikeout.
Key trends: The Angels are 2-8 in Nolasco's past 10 on the road. The Nationals are 6-1 in Roark's past seven on five days of rest. The "over/under" is 4-0-1 in Nolasco's past five. The over is 8-3 in Roark's past 11 interleague starts.
Early lean: Nationals and over.
Yankees at Mets (+126, 9)
The Subway Series shifts to Queens, meaning the Yankees lose the designated hitter. It's also an ESPN game. It's lefty Jaime Garcia (5-8, 4.50) for the visitors. His second start as a Yankee was better than his first as he gave up three runs over 5.2 innings (all in the first inning) vs. Boston. Garcia was 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA in two starts with the Mets earlier this year while pitching for Atlanta. Wilmer Flores is 4-for-12 off him with a couple of homers and six RBIs. The Mets' Seth Lugo (5-3, 4.85) was tagged for five runs and eight hits last time out in Philadelphia but avoided a loss. Over his last four starts, Lugo owns a 6.55 ERA, while opponents have hit .329 off him. Only a few Yankees have ever faced him.
Key trends: The Mets are 1-4 in their past five vs. a lefty. The over is 8-3 in their past 11 interleague road games. The over is 4-0 in Lugo's past four.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Cardinals at Red Sox (-137, 10)
Potential World Series preview, with St. Louis adding the DH. St. Louis is probably happy it kept Lance Lynn instead of dealing him at the deadline as had been rumored. Lynn (10-6, 3.12) hasn't personally lost since July 4. He comes off a no-decision vs. the Royals, giving up two earned over six innings. He is 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two career starts vs. Boston. Mookie Betts is 1-for-3 off him with a homer. Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 3.80) was very strong last time out, blanking the Yankees on two hits over six innings but taking a no-decision. Rodriguez beat the Cardinals in St. Louis on May 16, allowing three runs over six innings. No Cardinal has more than three at-bats against him.
Key trends: The Cards are 5-0 in Lynn's past five vs. teams with a winning record. The Sox are 4-0 in Rodriguez's past four interleague starts. The under is 7-1 in Lynn's past eight. It's 6-1 in Rodriguez's previous seven at home.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
Reds at Cubs (-207, TBA)
Chicago enters a very easy portion of its schedule so if the Cubbies want to create any space in the NL Central between themselves and the Cardinals, Brewers and Pirates the time is now. The Cubs have largely beaten the Reds like a drum the past couple of years. It's John Lackey (10-9, 4.82) on the mound for the North Siders. He was the perceived weak link of the rotation after the addition of Jose Quintana, but Lackey is 5-0 with a 3.42 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break. He's 1-1 with a 6.35 ERA in two starts this year vs. the Reds. Billy Hamilton is 10-for-29 against him. Zack Cosart is 7-for-18 with two homers. Cincinnati's Homer Bailey (4-6, 8.31) tends to alternate decent starts with horrible ones, so he's due a bad one. Bailey has missed the Cubs this year. Anthony Rizzo is 6-for-18 off him with a homer and six walks.
Key trends: The Reds are 4-9 in Bailey's past 13 vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 5-0 in his past five vs. Chicago. The over is 6-0 in Lackey's previous six vs. the Reds.
Early lean: Love the over regardless of total (unless wind is blowing hugely in) and go Cubs on runline.
White Sox at Dodgers (-351, 8)
Chicago made another trade, dealing reliever Tyler Clippard, who had been quite good since coming over from the Yankees in the Todd Frazier deal, to Houston for either a player to be named or cash considerations. So it's a salary dump. Clippard had taken over as Chicago's closer, and it's not clear who that will be now. The Sox don't really have that many ninth-inning leads. The Pale Hose lose the DH here and go with lefty Carlos Rodon (1-4, 4.24). He's working on three straight quality outings but took no-decisions in all. Rodon lasted a season-low 3.2 innings vs. the Dodgers on July 19 (5 ER). Enrique Hernandez might get a start as he's 2-for-2 with two homers off Rodon. L.A.'s Yu Darvish (8-9, 3.81) has won both starts since the trade from Texas and struck out 10 in each of them. He hasn't faced the White Sox this year.
Key trends: The Sox are 4-11 in Rodon's past 15 on the road. The under is 3-0-1 in his past four overall.
Early lean: White Sox on runline and under.
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