Daily Expert MLB Picks: Friday, May 4, 2018, Opening Line Report
This past winter, the Giants' Johnny Cueto had an interesting decision - one you and I would never even consider. When Cueto signed with San Francisco in late 2015, he got a six-year, $130 million deal but with a player opt out after two seasons. Needless to say, if Cueto had two good years and stayed healthy, he would have opted out and gotten a bigger contract or at least another six-year deal. Cueto was fantastic in 2016 but struggled and dealt with some injuries last year and decided to stay in the contract. That's looking very smart now because Cueto has landed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation - and that often is a very ominous sign. Cueto is going to see Dr. James Andrews, and that usually doesn't end well. So just as the Giants are starting to imagine life with ace Madison Bumgarner back in perhaps two weeks from a broken hand, Cueto could be looking at season-ending surgery. He was an early NL Cy Young candidate with a 3-0 record and an MLB-best 0.84 ERA in his five starts. Seems like no team in the NL West can stay healthy.
Indians at Yankees ( -158, 9.5 )
The last time these teams played was Oct. 11, 2016, at Progressive Field in Game 5 of the ALCS. Cleveland was a heavy favorite behind ace Corey Kluber, but he struggled for the second time in the series and took the defeat in the 5-2 loss as the Yankees completed the series rally from down 2-0. Didi Gregorius homered twice off Kluber. The Tribe are set to start Josh Tomlin (0-4, 9.16) here. His rotation spot could be on the line with those numbers. Tomlin has allowed 11 runs and 17 hits with six homers in his past two starts. He has an 8.57 ERA in 21 career innings at Yankee Stadium. Brett Gardner has seen him the most, going 2-for-13 with two doubles. Yankees lefty CC Sabathia (2-0, 1.71), a one-time Indian, has allowed just one earned run over his past three starts. He's largely pitching to contact and letting his defense do the job. The Tribe's Francisco Lindor is 5-for-9 off him. Michael Brantley just 1-for-13.
Key trends: The Yankees are 1-4 in Sabathia's past five at home vs. Cleveland. The Indians are 0-4 in Tomlin's past four vs. teams with a winning record. The "over/under" is 5-0 in Tomlin's past five vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Yankees on runline and over.
Marlins at Reds (-132, 9)
Cincinnati second baseman Scooter Gennett required an MRI on his shoulder earlier this week. And while it came back negative of any structural damage, he hasn't started a game through Wednesday. He has been able to pinch-hit. Perhaps with the Reds off Thursday he'll be good to go here. The Reds start Sal Romano (1-3, 4.65), my favorite butcher. He lasted 4.2 innings last time out in a loss at Minnesota, surrendering three runs and six hits. Only a few Marlins have seen him - Justin Bour is 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Miami lefty Wei-Yin Chen last Saturday made his first MLB start since May 1, 2017, due to surgery and allowed one run over 5.1 innings in a victory over Colorado. Chen has never faced the Reds.
Key trends: The Marlins are 5-2 in the past seven meetings. The over is 8-3 in the Reds' past 11 overall.
Early lean: Reds and over.
Red Sox at Rangers (+150, 9.5)
Your AL MVP right now has to be Boston outfielder Mookie Betts. If I were to ask you the Red Sox record for most three-homer games in a career, what might you guess? Perhaps 5-6? It had been three, by Hall of Famer Ted Williams. Betts had his third this season already on Wednesday vs. the Royals and passed Williams with his fourth career. The Sox start Rick Porcello (4-0, 2.23), who looks back to his 2016 Cy Young form. Five of his six starts have been quality, and his 24.2 percent strikeout rate and 2.6 percent walk rate are each career bests. The Rangers' Shin-Soo Choo is a career .283 hitter off him in 46 at-bats but hasn't gone yard. Texas' ageless Bartolo Colon (1-0, 2.87) got his first win last time out, allowing three earned over seven in Toronto. I actually had forgotten he pitched briefly for Boston in 2008. Mitch Moreland could get a spot start as he's 4-for-15 off Colon with two homers.
Key trends: The Sox are 6-1 in Porcello's past seven on the road. The over is 4-0 in the Rangers' past four vs. a right-handed starter.
Early lean: Red Sox and over.
Tigers at Royals (-107, 9)
Miguel Cabrera hasn't played this week through Wednesday due to muscle spasms in his left biceps. The Tigers can only go so much longer with a short bench before putting him on the DL if Cabrera can't shake it. Miggy isn't hitting for much power but is having a nice bounce-back season average-wise. Detroit starts lefty Francisco Liriano (3-1, 3.38). He won in Baltimore last time out, allowing three earned over 6.1 innings. It's his third look already against the Royals in 2018 and he's 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings. Salvador Perez is 4-for-10 with a homer off him. Kansas City's Ian Kennedy (1-3, 3.48) hasn't faced the Tigers this year or lasted more than five innings in his past three outings. Cabrera, if he plays, is 6-for-19 off him with a homer. Jose Iglesias is 4-for-9.
Key trends: The Royals are 2-5 in Kennedy's past seven at home. The under is 8-1 in his previous nine there.
Early lean: Royals and under.
Twins at White Sox (+147, 9)
Monitor the status of White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada after exited Wednesday's game against the Cardinals due to left hamstring tightness. He was hurt sliding into third base and at first it looked like a knee, but apparently not. Moncada has started looking like the former top overall prospect by raking over the past couple of weeks. Could be one fewer worry for young Twins ace Jose Berrios (2-3, 3.63). He dominated the Pale Hose on April 12 with seven shutout innings and a season-high 11 strikeouts. He has been roughed up a bit in his past two outings. Jose Abreu is just 1-for-12 off him with six Ks. Chicago's Carson Fulmer (2-1, 4.32) comes off the start of his career, seven shutout innings in Kansas City. That lowered his ERA from 6.00. No Twin has more than three at-bats off him - Brian Dozier is 2-for-3 with two homers.
Key trends: The Twins are 4-1 in Berrios' past five vs. the White Sox. The under is 5-0 in the White Sox's past five.
Early lean: Twins and under.
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