Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/23/2017, Opening Line Report
Interesting note about the Kansas City Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas. He's about to break the team record of 36 homers set by Steve Balboni back in 1985. What's amazing about that is how such a low total still leads the franchise. For example, nearly half of all homers ever recorded have been hit since Balboni set that Royals record. There have been 580 player seasons of at least 36 homers, including 343 since 1985, not including Moustakas. Every franchise except Kansas City has had a player hit at least 41 homers in a season. Every franchise except the Royals has had at least three 36-homer seasons. Four players by themselves - Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Reggie Jackson and Chris Davis-- had seasons in which they hit at least 37 by the All-Star break. Yes, Kauffman Stadium is pitcher-friendly, but it's not that much so. Moustakas' career high in homers entering this season was just 22. He's one of several key Royals up for free agency after the season.
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Brewers at Giants ( -121, 8.5 )
A 3:45 p.m. ET game on the MLB Network. San Francisco has been considering putting left-hander Matt Moore in the bullpen because he had been struggling so much. Maybe that motivation was enough for Moore (4-12, 5.54) as he has thrown back-to-back quality starts, allowing just four runs and nine hits over 14.1 innings. Moore hasn't seen the Brewers this year. Travis Shaw has seen him the most of any Milwaukee player, going 5-for-13 with a homer. The Brewers' Matt Garza (6-7, 4.81) was clobbered last time out in the thin air of Denver, surrendering eight runs and nine hits, three homers in a loss. He has not won a road game since June 14 at St. Louis. But on the bright side, Garza has a 2.70 ERA in three career starts at AT&T Park. Nick Hundley might get a spot start behind the plate (Buster Posey can play first) as he's 7-for-14 off Garza.
Key trends: The Brewers are 8-20 in Garza's past 28 road starts. The Giants are 0-8 in Moore's past eight vs. teams with a winning record. The "over/under" has gone under in eight of Garza's past 10. The under is 8-3-2 in Moore's previous 13 at home.
Early lean: Giants and under.
Red Sox at Indians (-188, 8)
Also on the MLB Network at 7:10 p.m. ET. Likely the pitching matchup of the night - assuming both guys make it to the mound. It's lefty Drew Pomeranz (12-4, 3.31) for Boston. Probably. He left Friday's outing vs. the Yankees because of back spasms. He said he began feeling the spasms while throwing his warmup pitches in the fourth inning but is optimistic he will pitch here. Pomeranz hasn't faced the Indians this year. Edwin Encarnacion is 1-for-2 off him with a homer. Indians Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber (12-3, 2.67) is on a personal five-start winning streak and is 9-1 with a 1.84 ERA in his last 15 starts. However, he left Friday in Kansas City with a sprained ankle. Kluber threw a bullpen session Sunday and reported no problems. Jackie Bradley Jr. is 3-for-13 off him with two homers. Dustin Pedroia just 2-for-16.
Key trends: The Indians are 9-3 in Kluber's past 12 at home vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-2 in his past seven against clubs above .500.
Early lean: Indians and under.
Cubs at Reds (+143, 11)
The Cubs lost ace Jon Lester to the 10-day DL last week and they are hopeful he misses just one or two starts due to a tired arm. Pitching into November will do that to a guy the next season (ask Aroldis Chapman). One of the most valuable pitchers in the modern era of baseball is a swingman who is comfortable throwing in relief or in the rotation. That's lefty Mike Montgomery (3-6, 3.64) for Chicago, and he returns to a starting role here. Montgomery relieved an injured Lester last time out vs. these Reds and didn't allow a run over 4.1 innings. In eight starts in the first half, Montgomery was 2-3 with a 5.13 ERA. Adam Duvall is 3-for-7 against him with a homer and four RBIs. Cincinnati's Asher Wojciechowski (3-2, 5.36) pitched at Wrigley Field on Aug. 14 and was bombed for seven runs and 10 hits over 3.2 innings. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are each 2-for-3 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Cubs are 3-7 in Montgomery's past 10 starts. The Reds are 2-8 in their past 10 vs. a lefty. The over is 12-3 in Cincinnati's past 15.
Early lean: Like over better than side (Cubs).
Mariners at Braves (+116, 10)
Seattle manager Scott Servais said he didn't plan on using designated hitter Nelson Cruz in the outfield at all during this interleague series, so apparently his big bat will only be available as a pinch-hitter. He had appeared in the outfield four times earlier this season but also battled leg injuries. Cruz is an MVP candidate, hitting .294 with 31 homers and an AL-best 100 RBIs. I think you have to stick him in right field and just get him out of there if you get a lead. Seattle's Erasmo Ramirez (5-4, 4.52) was acquired from the Rays around the trade deadline. He has been outstanding his past two outings in allowing just one earned run over 12 innings. Atlanta knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (8-8, 3.98) lost to the Reds last time out, allowing four runs over six. If Servais changes his mind, Cruz is 3-for-15 against Dickey with two homers.
Key trends: The Mariners are 1-9 in Ramirez's past 10 starts on four days of rest. The Braves are 7-2 in Dickey's past nine at home. The over is 4-1 in his previous five against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Braves and over.
Rangers at Angels (-138, 9.5)
ESPN game - and the only matchup to start after 8:15 p.m. ET on the schedule. All the other West Coast teams are either out of town or, like the Giants, in a home matinee. It's Andrew Cashner (7-9, 3.31) on the bump for Texas. The Rangers has lost his past two even though Cashner surrendered only two earned runs in each. Somehow he has avoided the AL West rival Angels this year. Mike Trout is 1-for-3 off him. Angels lefty Andrew Heaney (0-0, 9.00) made his return from Tommy John surgery Friday in Baltimore, a game I previewed and recommended over the total. The Angels lost 9-7 as Heaney gave up five runs and four homers in five innings. Not great, but a decent return. Texas' Adrian Beltre is 2-for-5 off him with three RBIs.
Key trends: The Rangers are 3-7 in Cashner's past 10 on the road. The Angels are 1-4 in Heaney's past five at home. The under is 6-2 in Cashner's past eight vs. the AL West.
Early lean: Rangers and under.
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