Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/22/2017, Opening Line Report
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman obviously knows more about baseball than I do, but then why did he give Aroldis Chapman an $86.5 million free-agent contract when he had said previously he would never overpay for a closer. Maybe Cubs manager Joe Maddon broke Chapman by using him a ton in last year's playoffs as the fire-balling lefty just hasn't been the same this season and was pulled from his closing role over the weekend by Manager Joe Girardi. Chapman is 4-2 with 16 saves but also four blown and a 4.14 ERA. Girardi used him in the seventh inning of Sunday's loss to the Red Sox, who are pulling away from the Bombers atop the AL East. Pretty much every meaningful statistic of Chapman's are career worsts this season. He had spent time on the DL earlier, but Girardi said that an injury has been ruled out as a culprit for Chapman's recent issues. It's not clear who closes in his stead as Girardi has two good options in Dellin Betances and David Robertson. Girardi said he'd be comfortable with either one but chose not to officially name one so as not to limit his options.
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Cubs at Reds ( +130, 10 )
MLB Network game. The Cubbies come off a weekend sweep of the Blue Jays, scoring three runs in the bottom of the 10th on Sunday. It was also the Chicago debut of catcher Rene Rivera, claimed off waivers from the Mets. The Cubbies start John Lackey (10-9, 4.67) in this series opener. The 38-year-old is pitching like he did when 28, not allowing more than three earned runs in his past seven starts. He doesn't go deep into games these days, though. Lackey is 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA in two starts vs. the Reds this year. Zack Cozart is 7-for-20 with two homers against him. The Reds' Homer Bailey (4-6, 8.44) was tagged for six runs over 5.2 innings last time out at the Cubs but did strike out 10. Anthony Rizzo had a first-inning grand slam. Lackey got the win in that one.
Key trends: The Reds are 10-3 in Bailey's past 13 vs. the Cubs. The "over/under" is 12-3-1 in his past 16 vs. Chicago and 7-0 in Lackey's previous seven against Cincinnati.
Early lean: Cubs and over.
Dodgers at Pirates (+115, 9)
The Dodgers placed Yu Darvish on the disabled list Saturday with back tightness, although the team says it's not a major issue. It's expected that Darvish won't be forced to miss any more than the one start, with his disabled list stint backdated to last Wednesday when he last pitched. The team also demoted Joc Pederson to Triple-A. He was once one of the top prospects in MLB but was hitting below .160 since the All-Star break. The addition of Curtis Granderson from the Mets made Pederson expendable for now. Expected NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger left Saturday's game against the Tigers with a mild right ankle sprain, but the Dodgers don't believe he will need a DL stint. Taking Darvish's spot here is Brock Stewart (0-0, 1.64). He has made nine appearances in the majors this year, last on Aug. 10, and two starts. No Pirate has more than two at-bats against him. Pittsburgh's Jameson Taillon (7-5, 4.64) took a no-decision in his last start vs the Cardinals, allowing four runs in five innings. No Dodger has more than three at-bats against him. Justin Turner is 2-for-2.
Key trends: The Pirates are 13-3 in Taillon's past 16 on four days of rest. The over is 4-1 in his previous five. The Dodgers are 1-8 in their past nine in Pittsburgh.
Early lean: Pirates and under.
Yankees at Tigers (+153, 10)
New York will activate pitcher Masahiro Tanaka off the disabled list for this start. Tanaka (8-10, 4.92) hasn't pitched in the majors since Aug. 9 in Toronto due to a shoulder issue. He had a bullpen session Friday and came through it with no problems. Pretty much all of Tanaka's numbers are career worsts, and he's already three walks away from tying his career high in bases-on-balls (36). If he doesn't pitch better the rest of the season, he likely won't opt-out of his contract - which could potentially cost him a ton of money on the free-agent market. Detroit's Victor Martinez is 3-for-10 against him with a homer and five RBIs. Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd (5-6, 5.70) was used in relief for the first time this season on Friday but threw only 1.1 innings so apparently is good to start here. Not too many Yankees have seen him - Todd Frazier has by far the most and is just 1-for-15.
Key trends: The Yanks are 1-6 in their past seven after an off day. The Tigers are 1-5 in Boyd's past six at home. The over is 7-1 in his previous eight.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Twins at White Sox (+124, 10)
One of the former top prospects in baseball, Minnesota's Miguel Sano, an All-Star this year, was placed on the 10-day disabled list Sunday with a stress reaction in his left shin. He left Saturday's game due to the injury. That's a potentially crippling blow to the Twins' wild-card chances. Meanwhile, another former top prospect, Chicago's Yoan Moncada, was scratched from the lineup Saturday against the Rangers due to shin splints in his right leg and didn't play Sunday. And speaking of top prospects, the Pale Hose are calling up Lucas Giolito from Triple-A to make his Chicago debut here. He was part of the Adam Eaton trade this offseason. The bloom is a little off the rose regarding Giolito as he was just 6-10 with a 4.48 ERA in the minors this year. He pitched in 21.1 innings last year for Washington and was 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. Minnesota goes with Kyle Gibson (6-10, 6.05). He at least has been consistent in his past four starts, allowing three earned in each. Gibson hasn't faced the White Sox this year.
Key trends: The Twins are 1-4 in their past five on Tuesday. The Sox are 4-14 in their past 18 vs. the AL Central. The over is 6-2 in Minnesota's past eight vs. the division.
Early lean: Twins and over.
Rangers at Angels (-140, 9.5)
ESPN game, which is rather unusual for a Tuesday night. Will Texas have slugger Joey Gallo? Likely not. He was removed from Sunday's game against the White Sox after colliding with teammate Matt Bush while converging on a pop fly in the eighth inning. Gallo was hit in the head and didn't immediately travel with the team to L.A. The Rangers start Tyson Ross (3-2, 7.02). Texas has won his past three even though Ross hasn't lasted more than 5.2 innings in any of them. Last time out vs. the White Sox, Ross threw 83 pitches and just 39 strikes with six walks. He became the first Rangers pitcher to throw less than 50 percent strikes of an 80-plus pitch outing since June 2016. Ross won his lone start vs. the Angels on July 8 (5.2 IP, 1 ER). Albert Pujols is only 1-for-13 off him. L.A.'s Ricky Nolasco (6-12, 5.16) won at Washington in his most recent outing (5.2 IP, 2 ER). He's 0-2 with a whopping 17.55 ERA in two starts this year vs. Texas. Adrian Beltre is 4-for-5 against him with a homer.
Key trends: The Rangers are 4-1 in Ross' past five. The over is 4-0 in his previous four on four days of rest. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings in Anaheim.
Early lean: Angels and over.
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