Five to Follow Expert MLB Betting Picks: 8/31/2017, Opening Line Report
If there's going to be any more significant trades this season, they will happen by Thursday afternoon. That's because after Aug. 31, any players acquired via trade are ineligible to be added to the postseason roster that year by their new teams. I suppose if a team got a player it wanted just for the final month of the regular season or for 2018, then something can happen after Thursday but not likely. A major trade has been known to happen in late August. For example, on Aug. 25, 2012, the Dodgers and Red Sox pulled off a nine-player swap that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to Los Angeles. Boston finished last in 2012, but clearing all that salary helped the Red Sox win the World Series the next year. I could see Mets infielder Asdrubal Cabrera being sent somewhere by Thursday as New York has waived the white flag on the season. Perhaps also Reds infielder Brandon Phillips, Braves starting pitcher R.A. Dickey, Padres starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin or Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, to name a few.
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White Sox at Twins ( -165, 10 )
A 1:10 p.m. ET first pitch from Target Field and on the MLB Network. Speaking of someone who could be dealt by Thursday: White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez (7-10, 4.30). The Pale Hose wouldn't get much for the free-agent-to-be but could save a few dollars and perhaps land a low-level prospect. Gonzalez is working on four straight quality starts and has a 2.94 ERA since the All-Star break. His only 2017 start vs. Minnesota was his season debut on April 8 (6 IP, 2 ER). Byron Buxton is 1-for-9 off him. The Twins' Bartolo Colon (6-10, 6.35) has a 4.04 ERA since joining the team in July off waivers. Even though Colon has been around forever, no active member of the White Sox has faced him, which tells you all you need to know about that lineup.
Key trends: The Sox are 2-8 in Gonzalez's past 10 on the road. The Twins are 6-0 in their past six in Game 3 of a series. The "over/under" has gone under in eight of Gonzalez's past 11 vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Twins and under.
Rangers at Astros (-137, 9)
From Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field at 1:10 p.m. ET; the Astros presumably will be told by early Thursday whether they are staying put to host the Mets there this weekend (likely) or heading back home ( editor's note: they will play the series in Houston per ESPN). The Rangers have been getting ripped nationally for not simply switching this series to Arlington and moving a later one from Arlington back to Houston, but it's not exactly that easy with season-ticket holders, vendors, etc. Texas starts lefty Cole Hamels (9-2, 3.78). He had a four-start winning streak snapped last time out in allowing six runs in 4.1 innings at Oakland. Hamels threw seven shutout innings vs. Houston on Aug. 11 in his only 2017 start against it. Evan Gattis is 7-for-23 off him with three homers. The Astros' Collin McHugh (2-2, 3.63) has allowed two earned or fewer in his past three. He hasn't seen Texas in 2017. Rougned Odor is 7-for-18 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Rangers are 5-0 in Hamels' past five vs. Houston. The under is 3-1-1 in those. Houston is 1-4 in McHugh's previous five on Thursday.
Early lean: Rangers and under.
Dodgers at Diamondbacks (-127, 9)
A 3:40 p.m. ET start. Arizona was hoping to activate shortstop Nick Ahmed from the DL later this week from a broken hand … except he suffered a fractured right wrist after getting plunked during a minor-league rehab game. So his regular season is over. Arizona starts ace and former Dodger Zack Greinke (15-6, 3.14). He has thrown quality starts in six straight at home and is tied for the NL lead in wins. Greinke is 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA in two starts this year against his former teammates. Corey Seager is 6-for-11 off him with two homers and five walks. L.A.'s Kenta Maeda (12-5, 3.76) comes off one of his best outings of the season, allowing one run and one hit over six vs. Milwaukee. He's 0-1 with a 7.07 ERA in three starts this year vs. the Diamondbacks. Jake Lamb is 9-for-22 vs. Maeda with two homers.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 1-5 in Maeda's past six road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Diamondbacks are 8-1 in Greinke's past nine on five days of rest. The under is 5-0 in Maeda's past five vs. teams with a winning record. It's 5-1-1 in Greinke's previous seven at home.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and over.
Red Sox at Yankees (-124, 9)
MLB Network game. If the Red Sox win three of four this weekend, I'd call the AL East race over as this is the last series between the two. It's lefty Eduardo Rodriguez for Boston. Rodriguez (4-4, 4.19) has not been sharp in his past three, allowing 12 runs in a loss and two no-decisions. He threw six scoreless innings at the Yankees on Aug. 11 in his only look at them this year. Didi Gregorius is a .318 hitter off him in 22 at-bats. New York's CC Sabathia (10-5, 3.82) was set to pitch Wednesday vs. Cleveland but Tuesday's rainout and then a doubleheader on Wednesday pushed him back to here. The big lefty is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in three starts this year against the Red Sox. They are hitting only .159 off him with no homers. Xander Bogaerts is just 4-for-25 career off Sabathia but does have 10 walks.
Key trends: The Sox are 3-7 in their past 10 in New York. The Yankees are 3-7 in their past 10 at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The over is 5-0-2 in Boston's past seven series openers.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Cardinals at Giants (-140, 7.5)
Monitor the status of Giants All-Star catcher Buster Posey as he's dealing with a bone bruise and inflammation in his left thumb. Absolutely no reason to put him out there at less than 100 percent as the Giants battle for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner (3-6, 2.85) was a tough-luck loser yet again in his most recent outing, allowing two runs with seven strikeouts over seven innings in Arizona. He hasn't seen St. Louis in 2017. Matt Carpenter is 3-for-5 off him career with two doubles. St. Louis' Michael Wacha (9-7, 4.33) has lasted five innings or fewer and surrendered 14 combined runs over his past three. He was great vs. the Giants on May 19 (6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER) but didn't get a decision. Posey is 0-for-7 against him so perhaps would have gotten the day off regardless.
Key trends: The Cards are 1-5 in Wacha's past six series openers. The Giants are 3-10 in their past 12 series openers. The under is 7-1 in San Francisco's past eight vs. right-handed starters.
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