Daily Expert MLB Picks: Friday, May 11, 2018, Opening Line Report
I have zero rooting interest in the Oakland A's overall, but they now have a player on the big-league roster whom I'll be rooting for in a big way. That would be rookie Dustin Fowler. Unless you are a true-blue Yankees or A's fan, you might not know of him. The promising outfielder was called up late last June by the Yankees and played his first game June 29 at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the White Sox. Before Fowler even got to bat in the majors, he suffered a gruesome knee injury after he crashed into the wall in foul territory chasing a ball hit by Jose Abreu with two outs and the bases empty in the first inning. Fowler suffered an open rupture of his right patellar tendon as he ran full speed into an unpadded electrical box. He decided to sue the White Sox and the Illinois Stadium Authority for negligence, and that case is still ongoing. At last year's trade deadline, the Yankees shipped Fowler to Oakland in the Sonny Gray deal. Fowler, 23, nearly made the Oakland big-league roster this spring but was raking down in Triple-A and has been called up. He should play nearly every day in center field. Fittingly enough, the A's start a three-game series against the Yankees on Friday.
White Sox at Cubs ( -260, TBA )
The lone matinee with a 2:20 p.m. ET first pitch on the MLB Network. Forget the World Series, we want the Crosstown Cup! That's what is on the line annually in the White Sox-Cubs series, with the North Siders heading to the South Side in late September. The Cubs won the Cup last year by taking three of four - it's a six-game overall series this year. The Cubbies are without outfielder Jason Heyward, who landed on the seven-day concussion list. It's Tyler Chatwood 92-3, 3.31) for the Cubs. He has been wildly inconsistent, like last time out when he allowed four runs in four innings in St. Louis and walked five. He leads the NL with 27 free passes in just 32.2 innings. Only a couple of White Sox have seen the career National Leaguer. The Sox's Carson Fulmer (2-2, 5.02) also has been untrustworthy. He lasted only 3.2 innings last time out, allowing five runs (four homers) in a loss to the Twins. Just a few Cubs have seen him.
Key trends: The White Sox are 3-13 in their past 16 interleague road games. The Cubs are 12-3 in their past 15 interleague games overall. The "over/under" is 4-1 in Fulmer's past five.
Early lean: Cubs on runline (and probably over regardless unless wind blowing in).
Mets at Phillies (-158, 8.5)
ESPN+ game. New York was able to pawn off Matt Harvey on the Reds for catcher Devin Mesoraco, who was good for one season but can't stay healthy. That was a position of need for New York with some injuries behind the plate. Better than just eating Harvey's full salary. The Mets opened a roster spot by placing third baseman Todd Frazier on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Mets lefty Steven Matz (1-3, 4.23) comes off his best outing of the year, surrendering just a run and three hits over six, but he lost to the Rockies. No Phillie has more than three at-bats off him. Philadelphia's Jake Arrieta (3-1, 3.15) dominated the Nats on Sunday (6 IP, 2 H, 1 R) but took a no-decision. New York's Asdrubal Cabrera is 5-for-14 off him with two homers.
Key trends: The Mets are 1-6 in Matz's past seven on the road. The Phillies are 13-3 in their past 16 at home vs. a lefty. The over is 5-0-1 in Arrieta's past six.
Early lean: Phillies and over.
Red Sox at Blue Jays (+185, 8)
Some good news for the Red Sox as former Blue Jay David Price has been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome after being scratched from Wednesday's start because of a recurrence of numbness in his left hand. Does Price type a lot!? Too much Fortnite? Never heard of that injury for a baseball player. Price might avoid the DL now. The Sox start lefty Chris Sale (3-1, 2.02). He was terrific Sunday in Texas, giving up a run and four hits while striking out a season-high 12 in the victory. Sale beat the Jays on April 26 (6 IP, 3 ER). Kendrys Morales is a career .294 hitter off him with three homers. Toronto's Aaron Sanchez (2-3, 4.14) lasted a season-low 3.2 innings Saturday at the Rays (4 R, 4 BB). He took a ND vs. Boston on April 25 (6 IP, 2 ER). Mookie Betts is 6-for-21 against him with a homer.
Key trends: The Jays have lost seven straight Sanchez starts vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-2 in his previous seven vs. Boston.
Early lean: Blue Jays on runline (Sox flat off big Yankees series?) and under.
Rangers at Astros (-248, 8)
Texas expects to activate second baseman Rougned Odor from the DL on Friday. He landed there April 9 because of a severe left hamstring strain. Rangers lefty Cole Hamels (1-4, 3.94) has been one of the wort pitchers in terms of negative money units in MLB this season as Texas has lost all but one of his outings. Hamels is 0-3 with a 4.11 ERA in his last six starts since his lone victory and 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts against the Astros this year. Evan Gattis is 9-for-29 with three solo homers off him. Houston's Justin Verlander (4-1, 1.17) lost his first regular-season game as an Astro last Sunday despite allowing just an earned run and three hits in six innings at Arizona. He leads the AL in ERA and WHIP (0.71). Verlander is 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA in two starts this year vs. Texas.
Key trends: The Rangers are 0-7 in Hamels' past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The Astros are 7-2 in Verlander's previous nine at home. The under is 4-1 in Hamels' previous five against Houston.
Early lean: Astros on runline and under.
Nationals at Diamondbacks (+174, 7.5)
Wouldn't shock me if these teams met again this fall. With the Dodgers' issues, Arizona might just win the NL West, and I fully expect the Nats to take the NL East again. Washington's Max Scherzer (6-1, 1.74) blew away the Phillies on Sunday with 15 strikeouts and one run allowed in just 6.1 innings but took a no-decision. Scherzer hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in a start this season and has completed at least six innings in seven of his eight starts. Scherzer's first two seasons in the majors were with Arizona. Paul Goldschmidt is just 1-for-15 off him with eight strikeouts. The Snakes' Matt Koch (2-0, 2.13) has been very solid as a fill-in starter with Arizona's rotation injury issues. Koch has yet to allow more than two earned runs in his four outings. No Nationals batter has more than two at-bats off the 27-year-old, who has thrown only 43.1 career innings.
Key trends: The Nats are 5-1 in Scherzer's past six vs. Arizona. The over is 5-0 in his past five overall. The under is 4-0 in Koch's past four at home.
Early lean: Nats on runline and under.
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