Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/24/2017, Opening Line Report
Go ahead and forget the Los Angeles Dodgers setting the big-league record with 117 wins. I always thought it was highly unlikely as it's just not worth pushing the guys through September to achieve some statistic. L.A. will still finish with the best record this season and thus get home-field advantage as long as it's alive in the postseason. However, there might be cause for some concern now. Clayton Kershaw is on the DL with back troubles. So is Yu Darvish. Both are expected to be fine, with Kershaw taking a rehab start Saturday and Darvish likely returning Sunday, but anyone who has had back issues knows they can flare up at any time. Now Alex Wood, the team's second-best pitcher this year, is dealing with inflammation in his shoulder. The problem flared up Monday in Pittsburgh. Wood missed a couple weeks of action with the same issue in the first half, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts referred to the situation as "a little concerning." Wood's velocity was down and he gave up three home runs for the second time in his 134 major-league appearances. Wood was placed on the DL, and the Dodgers are going to skip 1-2 of his starts and hope that fixes things.
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Diamondbacks at Mets ( +138, 8.5 )
First game of the day at 12:10 p.m. ET. More bad news for the Mets this year as lefty Steven Matz has been shut down and will have elbow surgery. Matz began the season on the disabled list with elbow discomfort, which the Mets apparently misdiagnosed. He now has been shown to have irritation in the ulnar nerve of his left elbow.The good news is that it's the same procedure Jacob deGrom had last September, and deGrom is fine now. Matz should be good for spring training. The only reason Rafael Montero (2-8, 5.47) is in the New York rotation is due to injuries. On Saturday, he did win for the first time in nearly two months with a quality start vs. Miami (6 IP, 1 ER). Only a few Diamondbacks have seen him. Arizona lefty Robbie Ray (9-5, 3.11) was having a career season but took a line drive in the head on July 28 in St. Louis, suffered a concussion and needed staples to close a gash in his head. He makes his return. Not many Mets have seen him.
Key trend: The Diamondbacks are 5-2 in Ray's past seven on the road. The Mets are 0-8 in their past eight vs. lefties. The "over/under" is 9-3-1 in Ray's past 13 vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and over.
Yankees at Tigers (+104, 9)
MLB Network game at 1:10 p.m. ET. Last meeting of the season between these teams. Yankees lefty Jaime Garcia (5-8, 4.52) has yet to last more than 5.2 innings with New York in three starts since being traded from Minnesota. Dating to his time with the Braves, Garcia has allowed at least three runs in five straight starts. He hasn't faced Detroit, and the only Tiger to have faced him is Justin Upton, who is 2-for-8 with a homer. The Tigers' Michael Fulmer (10-11, 3.60) allowed one unearned run with only three hits over seven innings Saturday vs. the Dodgers and still took the loss. It was Detroit's fifth straight setback in his starts. One of those was in the Bronx (6 IP, 7 R). Aaron Judge is 1-for-2 off him with a homer.
Key trend: The Tigers are 10-4 in Fulmer's past 13 vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 5-0 in his previous five Thursday starts.
Early lean: Tigers and over.
Blue Jays at Rays (-115, 8)
A 1:10 p.m. ET first pitch from Tropicana Field, which might have 5,000 people in the stands. Would you go spend a gorgeous Thursday August afternoon in that dump? It's lefty J.A. Happ for the Blue Jays, and it's still possible he's an August waiver trade candidate. Happ (6-9, 3.90) had allowed just one run over three straight starts until allowing five over five innings last time out at Wrigley Field. Seven of the nine hits were singles so he wasn't exactly hit hard. This will be Happ's first look at the Rays in 2017. Evan Longoria is a career .355 hitter off him in 31 at-bats. Tampa's Alex Cobb (9-8, 3.80) was a tough-luck loser to the Brewers in his most recent outing in surrendering one run over six on Aug. 5. He landed on the DL after that with turf toe. Cobb won his lone 2017 start vs. Toronto on May 7 (8 IP, 2 ER). Justin Smoak is 0-for-11 against him.
Key trend: The Jays are 3-7 in Happ's past 10 on the road. The under is 19-6-3 in his previous 19 vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 6-1-1 in Cobb's past eight.
Early lean: Rays and under.
Nationals at Astros (-141, 7.5)
MLB Network game at 8:10 p.m. ET with Washington adding the DH. If these two eventual division winners play again this year it would be in the World Series. Quite possible - especially with the sudden injury worries for the Dodgers. It's the marquee pitching matchup of the night. Washington's Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 3.24) returned from about a month on the DL Saturday in his hometown of San Diego and pitched well (6 IP, 2 ER, 8Ks) but took the loss. Only three Astros have faced Strasburg. Carlos Beltran is 0-for-5. Houston lefty Dallas Keuchel (11-2, 2.58) has won back-to-back starts and shut out Oakland on three hits over seven innings last time out. His 100 pitches were the most since May. Howie Kendrick has faced him more than any Washington hitter, going 8-for-18 with a homer. Ryan Zimmerman is 4-for-6 with four RBIs off Keuchel.
Key trend: The Nats are 6-0 in Strasburg's past six interleague starts. The Astros are 11-1 in Keuchel's past 12 following a quality start in his most recent appearance. The under is 4-1 in Strasburg's past five and in Keuchel's last five at home.
Early lean: Astros and under.
Red Sox at Indians (+164, 7)
Why couldn't Red Sox manager John Farrell or Cleveland counterpart Terry Francona juggle their rotations? We could have seen a potential Cy Young showdown between Boston's Chris Sale and the Indians' Corey Kluber, but Kluber was going Wednesday night (maybe it will rain) and Sale here in the series finale. If these two likely eventual division winners play again this year, it's probably in the ALDS. Cleveland suddenly has injury worries with stellar reliever Andrew Miller. Making just his second appearance since returning from the DL on Monday, Miller was pulled after aggravating his problem and put back on the DL. The Tribe go with Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.50), and he has been nearly as good as Kluber since the All-Star break with a 2.83 ERA in 41.1 innings. Sale (14-5, 2.62) was bombed by Cleveland on Aug. 1 in allowing eight hits and seven runs in five innings. Dating to his White Sox days, Sale is 5-7 with a 4.81 ERA in 17 starts vs. the Tribe. Francisco Lindor is 9-for-19 off him. Austin Jackson is an incredibly bad 2-for-35 with 16 strikeouts. I know I could do that!
Key trend: The Sox are 8-3 in Sale's past 11 vs. teams with a winning record. The Indians are 6-1 in Bauer's previous seven vs. the AL East. The under is 8-2 in Sale's past 10.
Early lean: Indians on runline and under.
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