Daily Expert MLB Picks: Friday, June 8, 2018, Opening Line Report
The Yankees were probably going to have to go out and get a starting pitcher regardless ahead of the July 31 deadline because everyone behind young ace Luis Severino is a question mark in one regard or another. Now, however, it's a sure thing because young left-hander Jordan Montgomery will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery - meaning we won't see him until probably the second half of the 2019 season. Montgomery originally was diagnosed with a flexor strain in his elbow in early May, and the club said he would miss 6-8 weeks. He exited a May 1 start against the Houston Astros after throwing just seven pitches. Montgomery was 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA in 29 starts last year and 2-0 with a 3.62 ERA in six in 2018. He actually recently had begun throwing again, and the team was confident of a return, but he complained of some discomfort. This is the fifth consecutive year that the Yankees have lost a starting pitcher to Tommy John surgery (Michael Pineda in 2017).
Pirates at Cubs ( -160, TBA )
Per usual, the only Friday matinee with a 2:20 p.m. ET start on the MLB Network. The two teams have split six meetings thus far in 2018. It's lefty Mike Montgomery for the Cubs, and he's making a push to stay in the rotation even when Yu Darvish returns from injury. Montgomery (1-1, 3.89) blanked these Pirates on May 28 over 5.2 innings in his first start and then allowed one run and two hits over six in a win at the Mets last time out. Pittsburgh's Jordy Mercer is 4-for-8 off him with a double and homer. The Bucs' Chad Kuhl (4-3, 3.86) is 0-1 in his past three starts despite not allowing more than two earned in any and going six in each. That includes opposite Montgomery on May 28. Jason Heyward is 6-for-13 off him with a homer and six RBIs.
Key trend: The Pirates are 2-5 in Kuhl's past seven vs. Chicago. The Cubs are 7-3 in Montgomery's past 10 starts. The "over/under" has gone under in eight of Kuhl's past 12 on the road.
Early lean: Pirates on runline.
Yankees at Mets (-105, 7.5)
The Subway Series opener is on the MLB Network with the Yankees losing the DH, meaning they'll presumably move Giancarlo Stanton to left field and bench Brett Gardner. The Bombers start Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 4.79), who gets a ton of run support as one can see with that record and ERA. He didn't really deserve to win last time out vs. Baltimore (5.1 IP, 4 ER, 3 HR) but did. Tanaka hasn't lost since April 17 vs. the Marlins in one of the upsets of the year. Former Yankee Todd Frazier is 1-for-8 off Tanaka. Jay Bruce 0-for-3. The Mets' Jacob deGrom (4-0, 1.49) has taken three straight no-decisions despite going seven innings in each and allowing a combined two runs and striking out 29. He leads the NL in ERA. If the Yankees got him (no chance) via trade, they win the World Series. Stanton will definitely play because he's 9-for-22 with four homers off deGrom.
Key trend: The Yanks are 1-4 in Tanaka's past five vs. the NL East. The Mets are 15-4 in deGrom's past 19 series openers. The under is 7-1 in his past eight.
Early lean: Mets and under.
White Sox at Red Sox (-313, 8)
Perhaps now is a good time to revisit the Chris Sale trade from the White Sox to Boston in December 2016. The Red Sox couldn't be happier as Sale was runner-up in the Cy Young race last year and is in the conversation again at 5-3 with a 3.00 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 110 strikeouts in 81 innings. Batters are hitting .197 against Sale. Typical numbers. However, he does come off back-to-back shaky starts, allowing 10 combined runs over 10.1 innings in losses to the Astros and Braves. Sale did face his former team once last season and didn't pitch well - clearly a bit jacked up - but got the win. The White Sox have Yoan Moncada in the majors as their everyday second baseman and leadoff guy from that deal, and their potential future ace Michael Kopech is striking out a ton of guys at Triple-A and should be called up later this summer. The other two prospects that Chicago got may never see the Show. Still, the White Sox did well if both Moncada and Kopech live up to expectations. The Pale Hose start Dylan Covey (1-1, 2.82), who was one of the worst pitchers in the AL as a rookie last year but has been solid through four in 2018. He has never faced Boston.
Key trend: The White Sox have lost nine straight Covey road starts. The Red Sox are 16-5 in Sale's past 21 vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 6-1 in his previous seven at home.
Early lean: Red Sox on runline and over.
Astros at Rangers (+191, 9)
ESPN+ game. Houston expects to get starting catcher Brian McCann off the disabled list on Friday. He will miss the minimum of 10 days with his knee injury. McCann won't do much offensively these days but still calls a good game. Although, I'm guessing that Justin Verlander (7-2, 1.24) pretty much throws what he wants. The AL ERA and WHIP (0.72) leader comes off a no-decision vs. the Red Sox, allowing two runs over six. He hadn't given up that many runs since April 25. Amazing. Verlander is 1-1 with a 0.90 ERA in three 2018 starts vs. Texas. Shin-Soo Choo is a career .176 hitter against him with 33 strikeouts. Rougned Odor is 1-for-21 with six Ks. Former Astro Doug Fister (1-6, 4.13) has thrown back-to-back starts but lost both because Texas scored one run in each. He's 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in two starts this year vs. his former club. Alex Bregman is 3-for-6 with a homer off him.
Key trend: The Astros are 5-1 in Verlander's past six on the road. The Rangers have won seven straight Game 2s of a series. The under is 6-1 in Verlander's past seven on the road.
Early lean: Rangers on runline and under.
Braves at Dodgers (-180, 7.5)
Back in December 2014, the Dodgers signed injury-prone right-hander Brandon McCarthy to a four-year, $48 million deal that was panned by many around baseball. It definitely didn't work out, and L.A. sent McCarthy to Atlanta this past December with three others and cash for Matt Kemp. McCarthy (5-2, 4.83) faces his former team for the first time since. The last time he pitched in L.A., he gave up an 11th-inning homer to Houston's George Springer in Game 2 of the World Series and took the loss. Yasiel Puig is 3-for-7 with a homer off his former teammate. Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler (3-1, 2.74) has been terrific but wasn't quite as sharp on Saturday in surrendering four runs over five in Colorado (Coors Field will do that), but he avoided the loss. It's his first look at the Braves.
Key trend: The Braves are 7-3 in their past 10 road games vs. a right-handed starter. The Dodgers are 3-10 in their past 10 at home vs. a righty. The under is 7-1 in Atlanta's previous eight vs. a right-hander.
Early lean: Braves and under.
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