Daily Expert MLB Picks: Friday, June 15, 2018, Opening Line Report
The big news in baseball this week was Detroit losing former Triple Crown winner and two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera to a season-ending torn biceps injury. Cabrera isn't close to the Triple Crown guy at age 35 but was hitting .299 in 38 games. Frankly, this doesn't affect the Tigers that much in 2018 and might help them in an indirect way: losing more games. Detroit's in full-on rebuild and needs as high a draft pick as possible in 2019 after getting the No. 1 overall pick this year. What's now clear, though, is that Cabrera is incapable of playing a full season any longer and that his contract - around $162 million left including an $8 million buyout in 2024 - is going to be a huge albatross on this franchise through 2023. The Tigers hold $30 million team options in 2014 & '15, but there's zero chance those are picked up. Cabrera averaged 157 games per season from 2004 to 2014 without landing on the DL but was limited to 119 games in 2015, 130 last year and now only 38 in 2018. This injury could give GM Al Avila cover to sell off any remaining players who have value very soon, led by young right-hander Michael Fulmer.
Marlins at Orioles ( -150, 9 )
Miami adds the designated hitter for this interleague matchup - guessing there will be plenty of empty seats in Baltimore this weekend. Who would have thought the Orioles would be this much worse than the stripped-down Marlins? It's my favorite hard-luck pitcher on the mound for Miami in Jose Urena (1-8, 4.59). Off his first win since early last September, Urena threw a quality outing against the Padres on Sunday (6 IP, 3 ER) but once again got no run support and took the loss. A few Orioles have seen him. Danny Valencia is 0-for-2. Baltimore's Kevin Gausman (3-5, 4.58) hasn't won since May 11. He also threw a quality start in his last outing (6.2 IP, 3 ER) but took a no-decision at Toronto. Only a few Marlins have seen him, led by Starlin Castro (10-for-27).
Key trends: The Marlins are 7-1 in Urena's past eight road starts vs. teams with a losing record (wow!). The Orioles have lost seven straight interleague home games. The "over/under" is 6-2 in Urena's past eight series openers. It's 6-0 in Gausman's past six vs. the NL.
Early lean: Marlins and over.
Nationals at Blue Jays (+116, 9)
Washington adds the DH for this interleague matchup. The Jays are hoping to activate third baseman Josh Donaldson off the disabled list for this one; sooner the better so Donaldson can prove he's healthy and Toronto can trade him. The former AL MVP has been out since May 29 due to a left calf injury. The Jays start Aaron Sanchez (3-5, 4.33). He took a no-decision Saturday vs. Baltimore, surrendering two runs over 6.1 innings. This will be Sanchez's first interleague start of the year and first career look at Washington. Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez (6-2, 2.65) comes off his worst outing of the year, lasting only 3.1 innings and allowing four runs in a no-decision vs. the Giants. He blew a 5-0 lead. Curtis Granderson has seen him more than any Blue Jay but is hitting only .122 against him with 13 Ks in 41 at-bats.
Key trends: The Nats are 10-1 in their past 11 vs. teams with a losing record. The Jays are 4-0 in Sanchez's past four interleague starts. The under is 5-0 in Gonzalez's past five on the road.
Early lean: Blue Jays and under.
Rays at Yankees (-150, 9)
New York is short-handed in its rotation with Masahiro Tanaka on the DL and Jordan Montgomery done for the year, so the team is calling up Double-A right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga for at least Friday's start. Loaisiga was 6-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 10 games combined for Double-A Trenton and Single-A Tampa this season. Bit surprising the Yankees are promoting him straight from Double-A over a few other more touted young pitchers. The 23-year-old Loaisiga, from Nicaragua, is ranked as the franchise's No. 12 prospect. Tampa's Nathan Eovaldi (1-1, 3.94) pitched for the Yankees in 2015-16 before missing all of 2017. After no-hitting the A's in his first start this year, Eovaldi has allowed seven runs over 10 innings in his next two. Only a few current Yankees have seen him; Didi Gregorius is 2-for-5.
Key trends: The Rays are 1-8 in their past nine vs. teams with a winning record. The Yanks are 11-4 in their past five in Game 2 of a series. The over is 4-0 in Tampa's past four vs. a right-hander.
Early lean: Rays and over.
Twins at Indians (-222, 7.5)
How freaking good has two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber been of late for the Indians? Kluber (10-2, 1.99) won in Detroit on Sunday, allowing two runs and five hits over eight with eight strikeouts. More notable, he didn't walk anyone and hasn't in his past six starts. That equates to 168 consecutive batters, the third-longest streak of its kind over the past five years. The Cleveland record for most starts without a walk is seven in a row. The MLB record for consecutive starts with no walks is 11, by Bill Fisher of the Kansas City Athletics in 1962. Kluber beat the Twins on April 17 (6.2 IP, 1 ER). Brian Dozier can't hit him, going 7-for-47 with 14 Ks. Minnesota's Kyle Gibson (1-4, 3.45) hasn't allowed more than three earned in four straight but gets little offensive help. He took a ND vs. Cleveland on June 3 (5.2 IP, 2 ER).
Key trends: The Indians are 17-4 in Kluber's past 21 series openers. The Twins are 5-1 in Gibson's past six in Cleveland. The under is 6-2 in Kluber's previous eight against Minnesota.
Early lean: Indians on runline and under.
Cubs at Cardinals (-107, 8)
MLB Network game, and both clubs were off Thursday. It's Cubs ace lefty Jon Lester (7-2, 2.22), who looks like the 2016 version of himself instead of last year's. Lester has thrown seven innings of scoreless baseball with just three hits combined allowed in his past two in beating Pittsburgh and the Mets. He's 5-1 with a 1.63 ERA in his last eight starts. Lester is 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in two starts this year against the Cardinals. Matt Carpenter is just 5-for-37 off him with 11 Ks. Jedd Gyorko hits .409 off him with three homers. St. Louis' Michael Wacha (8-1, 2.47) has now gone 10 starts in a row allowing two earned or fewer. He took a no-decision vs. the visiting Cubs on May 6 (5.1 IP, 1 ER). Anthony Rizzo is a .450 hitter off him with three homers in 40 at-bats. Jason Heyward just 2-for-16.
Key trends: The Cubs are 2-5 in Lester's past seven in St. Louis. The Cards are 2-8 in Wacha's previous 10 against the Cubs. The under is 9-3-2 in Lester's past 14 vs. St. Louis.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
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