Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/25/2017, Opening Line Report
Kudos to the Angels' Albert Pujols, who is widely accepted as good guy who didn't cheat the game - i.e. steroids - to become a first-ballot Hall of Famer five years after he retires. On Tuesday night, Pujols hit the 610 th homer of his career to break a tie with Sammy Sosa (speaking of cheaters) for the most dingers ever by a player born outside the United States. Pujols is from the baseball-rich Dominican Republic, though he went to high school and college in Kansas City. Pujols was born in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo; Sosa was born an hour east in the coastal city of San Pedro de Macoris. The two active home run leaders behind Pujols who weren't born here are Adrian Beltre (DR) and Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela), and I don't think either even hits 610 homers in their careers - I know Beltre wont. Pujols could pass Jim Thome for seventh on the all-time list shortly as Thome hit 612 bombs. I'll admit that I'm rooting for the Angels to get a wild-card spot because MLB fans deserve to see Mike Trout in the playoffs for only the second time and Pujols for perhaps the last.
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Mets at Nationals (TBA)
This was to be the clear pitching matchup of the night, but that has been ruined. You might want to wager on Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy in each game of this series in terms of a hitting prop. He has absolutely murdered his former Mets team since arriving in Washington. This year, he's hitting .391 against them with 13 RBIs and eight runs scored. Murphy will deal with Mets ace Jacob deGrom (13-7, 3.49). Perhaps he's wearing down - or hiding an injury - as after several dominant weeks, deGrom has allowed five earned in each of his past two outings. He's 2-1 with a 2.61 ERA in three starts this year vs. Washington. Murphy is 3-for-9 off his former teammate. Washington's Max Scherzer (12-5, 2.25) was to be activated off the DL for this one, but he still feels tightness in his neck. He better return soon if he wants to win the Cy Young as he has also tailed off slightly. Thus, it will be likely be A.J. Cole (1-3, 5.32). He has made four big-league starts this year (none vs. Mets), last on Aug. 13.
Key trends: The Mets are 6-1 in deGrom's past seven vs. the Nationals. The "over/under" is 4-1 in his previous five in Washington. The over is 10-2 in his past 12 on the road overall.
Early lean: Nats haven't officially announced Cole, but it's expected to be him. Mets will be favored and I'd back them. Like over the total, which should be around 8.5.
Mariners at Yankees (-148, 9.5)
MLB Network game and potentially a wild-card preview. Seattle's bullpen got a boost on Wednesday when David Phelps was activated from the disabled list. He missed around two weeks with a right elbow impingement. Phelps is a former Yankee. However, Robinson Cano, another former Yankee, left Wednesday's game with hamstring tightness and will undergo an MRI. The Mariners start lefty Ariel Miranda (8-6, 4.78). He won in Tampa Bat last time out, allowing three earned over five. That's about the best you can expect. Miranda took a no-decision vs. the Yankees on July 22 (5.1 IP, 2 ER). Todd Frazier is 0-for-6 off him. New York lefty CC Sabathia (10-5, 3.99) ended a two-start losing streak with six innings of two-run ball in Boston last time out. Sabathia is now 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in three starts against the Red Sox this season.He won in Seattle on July 21 (5 IP, 1 ER). Kyle Seager is just 3-for-20 against him with eight Ks.
Key trends: The Mariners are 8-3 in their past 11 at the Yankees. The under is 5-0-1 in the previous six there. The over is 5-0 in Miranda's past five series openers.
Early lean: Yankees and under.
Orioles at Red Sox (-148, 10)
Boston has lost outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to the DL with a sprained left thumb, of course caused by sliding headfirst. When will these guys learn? Although sliding headfirst into home, as Bradley was, you can understand to avoid a tag and reach the plate. Bradley is hitting .262 with 14 HRs and 52 RBIs this season. Andrew Benintendi will play center in Bradley's absence, with Brock Holt and Chris Young splitting time in left - although the Sox have acquired Rajai Davis from Oakland, and he could factor in. The Sox go with Rick Porcello (8-14, 4.48). He has turned things around with a four-start winning streak to probably avoid 20 losses. Porcello is 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts this year vs. Baltimore. Manny Machado is 10-for-33 off him with two homers. The Orioles' Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 5.00) was good in his first two starts since a trade from Philly but bombed his last two. He lost to Boston with the Phillies on June 14 (5 IP, 6 ER). Mookie Betts is 5-for-5 off him with a dinger.
Key trends: The Orioles are an astounding 1-10 in their past 11 on Friday. The Sox are 9-2 in their past 11 on the day. The under is 13-4-2 in the previous 19 meetings.
Early lean: Red Sox and over.
Royals at Indians (-128, 9.5)
Rough week for the Tribe in losing Andrew Miller, Danny Salazar and now second baseman Jason Kipnis to the DL. Kipnis is there for the third time this season after reinjuring his right hamstring while running out a grounder Tuesday. Kipnis was on the DL from July 9 through Aug. 8 with the same injury and opened the year there with a shoulder issue. The Royals thought closer Kelvin Herrera might go there too after he experienced tightness in his right forearm in the ninth inning Tuesday, but he's apparently OK. The Royals start lefty Jason Vargas (14-7, 3.59). He lost to the Indians on Saturday (4.2 IP, 4 ER) and has been inconsistent since the break. Cleveland's Ryan Merritt (0-0, 3.12) will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus to start in Salazar's spot. Merritt has pitched 8.2 big-league innings this year over three appearances - none vs. the Royals.
Key trends: The Royals are 2-9 in their past 11 in Cleveland. The Indians have won four straight series openers. The under is 6-0 in Vargas' past six vs. the Indians.
Early lean: Royals and under.
Cubs at Phillies ( -163, 9 )
Chicago expects back third baseman and reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant for the series opener - if he isn't already back Thursday. Bryant has left a couple of games with injury this season where it looked potentially bad, but he has avoided anything serious. That was the case Tuesday when he was hit by a pitch on his left hand. He didn't play Wednesday.The Cubs could really put some distance between themselves and Brewers this weekend as Chicago has no excuse not taking at least two of three here and Milwaukee is at the Dodgers. The Cubbies go with lefty Jose Quintana (8-10, 4.27). He beat the Jays last time out with two runs allowed and eight strikeouts over six. Only a couple of Phillies have ever faced him. Philadelphia's Jerad Eickhoff (3-7, 4.46) has one victory in his past five and his velocity is way down in August. The Cubs' Jason Heyward is 3-for-7 off him with two doubles.
Key trends: The Cubs have won five straight series openers. The Phils are 3-13 in Eickhoff's past 16 series openers. The over is 5-0 in the past five meetings. It's 5-0 in Eickhoff's previous five on Friday.
Early lean: Cubs and over.
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