Daily Expert MLB Picks: Friday, June 29, 2018, Opening Line Report
Voting for the MLB All-Star starters closes next Thursday, and we could see something quite interesting in the American League. You would think that the Red Sox and Yankees would be dominating the voting because both are having huge seasons and they are the two most popular teams in the American League by far. Since MLB gave balloting over to the fans in 1970, neither the AL nor NL has had eight different teams (i.e. players at positions) win a fan election in the same year. Right now, that is happening in the Junior Circuit. The Red Sox have two leaders in DH J.D. Martinez and outfielder Mookie Betts, but no other club has more than one fan leader. The only Yankee likely to start is Aaron Judge, who is third among outfielders. There are some very unexpected leaders: White Sox's Jose Abreu at first, Indians' Jose Ramirez (having great season but not a big name really) at third and Rays' Wilson Ramos at catcher. This year's ASG is July 17 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
Twins at Cubs ( -125, TBA )
Usually, the Cubs play Fridays at home at 2:20 p.m. ET and it's on MLB Network. This has an unusual start time of 5:05 p.m. ET and no national TV. I think this is something the team requested because it had to fly back from the West Coast on Thursday night; I'm sure the Cubs wanted a night game, but a city ordinance allows only so many. Minnesota's Jose Berrios (8-5, 3.15) has been terrific in June with a 3-0 record and 2.10 ERA in five starts. He shut out the Rangers on three hits over seven with a season-high 12 strikeouts last Sunday. Berrios hasn't faced the Cubs. Chicago lefty Mike Montgomery (2-2, 3.31) had his worst outing as a fill-in starter last Sunday in Cincinnati, allowing four runs over six innings. In his five other starts, he'd given up four runs total. No Twin has more than five career at-bats against him.
Key trends: The Twins are 6-1 in their past seven interleague road games. The Cubs have lost five straight vs. teams with a losing record. The "over/under" has gone under in seven Cubs home games in a row.
Early lean: Twins.
Red Sox at Yankees (-110, 9)
MLB Network game because of course it is. The Red Sox go with one of the most profitable pitchers in baseball this season in lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (9-2, 3.86), although he had a six-start winning streak snapped Saturday in a loss to Seattle (4 IP, 4 ER). Perhaps it was because he was facing the M's for the second time in less than week. E-Rod threw five shutout innings on May 10 in New York but took a no-decision. Didi Gregorius is 7-for-26 off him with two doubles. New York lefty CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.18) has lost back-to-back stats, both against Tampa Bay. He allowed 19 hits and five runs over 13 innings. He also took a no-decision on May 10 vs. Boston (4 IP, 4 ER). Betts is 10-for-24 against him. Xander Bogaerts just 5-for-30 with nine Ks.
Key trends: The Yankees are 5-1 in Sabathia's past six vs. Boston. The under has hit in nine straight Sabathia home starts against the Red Sox.
Early lean: Yankees and under.
Tigers at Blue Jays (-187, 9)
Bad news for Toronto in hopes of trading third baseman Josh Donaldson as he suffered a setback while rehabbing his calf injury. An MRI showed a strain of his left calf, and he won't even be re-evaluated for three weeks. So, he'll barely have time to show he's healthy for the Jays to get anything in return, which is looking less and less likely. Yangervis Solarte has been hitting better regardless in Donaldson's place at third. Toronto goes with Marcus Stroman (0-5, 6.80) here. He returned from six weeks or so on the DL Saturday and threw five shutout innings at the Angels. It's Stroman's first 2018 look at Detroit. Nicholas Castellanos is 1-for-6 with a homer off him. Tigers lefty and former Blue Jay Francisco Liriano (3-3, 3.94) also returned from a DL stint last time out and allowed three runs in four innings at Cleveland. Curtis Granderson has seen him more than any Blue Jay and is just 6-for-32 with 15 Ks.
Key trends: The Tigers are 2-10 in their past 12 in Toronto. The over is 6-2 in the previous eight meetings. The over is 5-0 in the Jays' past five series openers.
Early lean: Tigers on runline and over.
Brewers at Reds (+100, 9.5)
Milwaukee has placed outfielder Lorenzo Cain on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left groin. He has been a great free-agent addition, hitting .291 with eight homers, 26 RBIs, 48 runs and 16 steals. Cain's WAR of 3.95 is Top 15 in the majors. The Brewers start Chase Anderson (5-6, 4.37). He tends to alternate good and bad outings. He was good Saturday vs. St. Louis in a no-decision, allowing one run and two hits five nine Ks over five - although he did walk four. Anderson lost in Cincinnati on May 1 (5.1 IP, 4 ER). Joey Votto is 4-for-12 against him with two doubles and seven walks. Cincinnati's Sal Romano (4-7, 5.40) allowed five runs in five innings in his last start vs. the Cubs but avoided a loss. He lost in Milwaukee on April 17 (5 IP, 2 ER). Ryan Braun is 5-for-10 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Brewers are 1-4 in Anderson's past five vs. the Reds. Cincinnati has lost four straight Romano starts against Milwaukee. The over is 6-2-1 in Romano's past eight vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Reds and over.
Braves at Cardinals (-146, 8.5)
Atlanta has announced it will activate rookie outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. for Friday provided no setback on Thursday. Charlie Culberson has played well in left field during Acuna's absence, but Culbertson will move to a utility role. The Braves start Julio Teheran (5-5, 4.52). He was shelled for seven runs over 4.2 innings on Saturday vs. Baltimore a start after six no-hit innings. Teheran has one victory in his past six. The Cards' Matt Carpenter hits him hard, going 6-for-12 with two homers. St. Louis' Miles Mikolas (8-2, 2.69) might be headed to the All-Star Game if he can finish the first half strong. He won in Milwaukee on Saturday, allowing two runs over 6.2 innings. He hasn't faced the Braves in six years while with San Diego.
Key trends: The Braves are 1-9 in their past 10 on Friday. The Cards are 5-1 in Mikolas' past six on five days of rest. The under is 5-0 in Mikolas' past five at home.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
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