Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/17/2017, Opening Line Report
I'm not saying the Cleveland Indians will return to the World Series this season and end the longest current championship drought in Major League Baseball. I do believe the Tribe have a good chance of getting back to the Fall Classic, though, and they are +250 at BetOnline to repeat as pennant winners. So allow me to take a liberty or two here. I'm just going to assume that if the Indians do get back, they won't have home-field advantage because their overall record is well behind that of the Dodgers and Nationals - and I think the Cubs might pass the Tribe as well. This year, remember, home-field advantage goes to the pennant winner with the best regular-season record. So why do I bring this up? Progressive Field is right next door to the Cavaliers' Quicken Loans Arena. Game 5 of the World Series, which would be the Tribe's last home game in the series if they don't have the best record, is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 29. Who knows, maybe they could clinch? The Cavaliers host the New York Knicks that night. That could be Cleveland facing Kyrie Irving if some trade rumors are to be believed. And maybe Carmelo Anthony is on the Cavs. How fun would that night be for sports fans in northeast Ohio? Shoot, I despise Cleveland sports teams but I'd want to be in the area that night.
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Indians at Twins ( +119, 9.5 )
Cleveland ends a series at its AL Central rival with a 1:10 p.m. ET first pitch. This division race isn't totally over yet, although I don't see the Twins or Royals catching the Indians. Cleveland starts Mike Clevinger (6-4, 3.65). He had been shifted back to the bullpen briefly, but his return to the rotation resulted in Clevinger's best start of the season, shutting out the Rays on four hits over seven innings with nine strikeouts Saturday at Tropicana Field. He's 0-1 with a 4.32 ERA in two appearances this year vs. Minnesota. Joe Mauer is 4-for-8 off him with a double. Minnesota youngster Jose Berrios (10-5, 4.27) is scuffling of late, allowing 11 runs over 8.1 innings in his past two. His first start of the season was his only vs. the Tribe this year, and Berrios allowed just one run and two hits over 7.2 innings on May 13. Carlos Santana is 4-for-9 against him with a homer.
Key trends: The Indians are 2-6 in Clevinger's past eight on four days of rest. The Twins are 5-0 in Berrios' past five at home. The "over/under" has gone under in eight of Berrios' past 11 vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Twins and under.
Diamondbacks at Astros (-152, 9)
An MLB Network game at 2:10 p.m. ET with Arizona adding the DH. The Diamondbacks are expecting back outfielder David Peralta after he was placed on the paternity leave list Monday following the birth of his daughter. Peralta is having a fine season, batting .303 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs in 103 games. Arizona goes with lefty Patrick Corbin (9-11, 4.52). He comes off perhaps his best start of the year in shutting out the Cubs on five hits with eight Ks over 6.2 innings. He had been shelled by them two starts prior. Only a few Astros have seen him. George Springer is 3-for-3 with a homer. Houston's Mike Fiers (7-7, 4.36) is 0-3 with an 8.41 ERA in his last four starts, allowing seven homers. He had been great in a 10-start stretch before that. JD Martinez is 6-for-11 off him with two homers.
Key trends: The Diamondbacks are 2-14 in Corbin's past 16 on the road. The Astros are 1-7 in their past eight vs. a lefty. The over is 5-1 in Corbin's past six and 4-1 in Fiers' past five at home.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and over.
Reds at Cubs (-228, TBA)
A 2:20 p.m. ET first pitch from Wrigley. Not that it really matters for the sorry Reds, but an X-ray has revealed that catcher Devin Mesoraco suffered a small fracture in his fifth metatarsal on his left foot as a result of a hit by pitch Monday. He's out 3-6 weeks. I feel bad for that guy. He was a breakout star in 2014 but hasn't played more than 56 games in a season since due to one injury after another. Mesoraco is hitting .213 this season with six home runs and 14 RBIs. Cincinnati's Scott Feldman (7-7, 4.43), a former Cub, has allowed 12 runs over 10 innings in his past three, all Reds losses. He's 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA against Chicago this season. New Cub Alex Avila is 3-for-6 off him with a homer. Cubs lefty Jon Lester (8-7, 3.99) hasn't won in his past three outings even though two have been quality. Lester is 1-0 with a 6.17 ERA in two starts against the Reds in 2017. Billy Hamilton is 7-for-16 off him with two solo homers.
Key trends: The Cubs are 10-5 in Lester's past 11 vs. the Reds. The over is 6-1-1 in his previous eight against them.
Early lean: Cubs on runline.
Yankees at Mets (+168, 8)
The Subway Series concludes on the MLB Network. The Yankees lose the DH again and probably won't have struggling closer Aroldis Chapman due to a tight hamstring that could require a DL stint. There's also chatter that the Mets could be close to trading outfielder Curtis Granderson. The Nationals have been linked to him after losing Bryce Harper. Normally the Mets wouldn't help the rival Nationals, but there's no point in holding onto Granderson, a free-agent-to-be. The Mets start lefty Steven Matz (2-6, 5.54). He hasn't won since June 28 or lasted more than 5.2 innings in his past seven. The Yankees' Todd Frazier is 2-for-9 career against him with two homers. Bombers All-Star Luis Severino (9-5, 3.32) had a personal four-start winning streak end Saturday in allowing a season-high 10 runs in 4.1 innings vs. Boston. Only a handful of Mets have faced him.
Key trends: The Yankees are 4-0 in Severino's past four interleague starts. The Mets are 0-6 vs. Matz's past six vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 4-1 in Matz's past five interleague starts.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Phillies at Giants (-112, 8)
On paper, this looks like one of the worst series of the season, but it could be very important as the loser - especially in a sweep -- might benefit in a big way with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. The Giants, Phillies, Reds and White Sox are "competing" for that honor. Philadelphia goes with ace Aaron Nola (9-7, 3.02). In his last 10 starts, Nola has a 1.71 ERA and gone at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs in each. He missed the Giants earlier this season. Buster Posey is 2-for-2 off him. San Francisco's Jeff Samardzija (7-12, 4.74) is working on four straight quality starts and has won three of them. He also missed the Phillies earlier this summer.
Key trends: The Phillies are 8-20 in their past 28 series openers. The Giants are 8-21 in their past 29. The under is 6-1-1 in Nola's past eight.
Early lean: Like the under more than the side (Phillies).
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