Daily Expert MLB Picks: Saturday, April 21, 2018, Opening Line Report
Really no surprise that the Cincinnati Reds fired Manager Bryan Price on Thursday with his team off to a 3-15 start. Only the 1931 Reds, who started 2-16, came out of the gate slower than this year's team. Overall, Price's record with the Reds was 279-387. Frankly, the only surprise was that Price wasn't fired either during last season or at least the offseason. My only thoughts would be that: 1) the Reds knew they were going to stink again in 2018 so why ruin some other manager, or 2) the franchise is so cheap it didn't want to pay a guy NOT to manage. Really not Price's fault his teams were so bad as the franchise is in the midst of a total reboot and has dealt with tons of injuries, especially on a horrific pitching staff. Pitching coach Mack Jenkins has also was fired. Bench coach Jim Riggleman was named Cincinnati's interim manager, but the team plans to search for a permanent manager "later in the year." Whatever that means. My prediction for next manager to go, either fired or steps aside: Baltimore's Buck Showalter.
Indians at Orioles (+153, 9)
Fox Sports 1 game at 4:05 p.m. ET. Showalter is very good manager but one of those guys who tends to grate on players after a while. His contract is also up after this season. The three-time Manager of the Year surely would get another job if the O's let him go, although more teams are trending younger and Buck is soon to be 62. Showalter starts Chris Tillman here. Tillman (0-3, 11.91) was so good in 2016 but has fallen off the planet since. His runs allowed have gone up in each start this year: 4-5-6. This will be his first home outing and he did face three great lineups in the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros. Edwin Encarnacion is a career .300 hitter off him in 60 at-bats with four homers. Cleveland's Mike Clevinger (1-0) comes off his worst start of the season, allowing four runs in four innings vs. Toronto. He is 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in three career starts vs. the O's. Manny Machado is 2-for-6 against him.
Key trends: The Indians are 9-1 in Clevinger's past 10 starts. The Orioles are 4-0 in Tillman's past four vs. the Tribe. The "over/under" has gone under in seven of Tillman's previous nine vs. Cleveland.
Early lean: Indians and over.
Twins at Rays (-118, 8)
The Twins already are down one outfielder with rising star Byron Buxton on the DL due to migraines. You will want to monitor the status of another good young one in Max Kepler. He was pulled from Wednesday's game due to knee discomfort. The team says it was mostly precautionary, but he was to be reevaluated on Friday. The Twins start Kyle Gibson (1-0, 3.68). He has lasted just 4.1 innings in his past two starts but avoided losses in both. He allowed three runs in 5.1 innings in his lone 2017 start vs. Tampa Bay. Brad Miller, set to be activated off the DL on Friday, is 6-for-12 off him. Tampa lefty Blake Snell (2-1, 2.95) has allowed just one earned run in each of his past two with 19 strikeouts in 12.1 innings. There's a reason he was once Tampa's No. 1 prospect. The Twins' Brian Dozier is 2-for-5 off him with a dinger.
Key trends: The Twins are 1-5 in Gibson's past six vs. the Rays. The over is 5-0 in his past against Tampa Bay.
Early lean: Rays and under.
Mets at Braves (+134, 8)
ESPN+ game. I'm frankly shocked that Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman didn't suffer a break of some kind when he took a pitch off his left wrist on Wednesday - the same wrist he fractured last year. Tests were negative and Freeman played the next day. Freeman is 7-for-28 with two homers and seven strikeouts career off Mets starter Jacob deGrom (2-0, 3.24). Three of his four starts this year have been quality. He struck out a season-high 12 last time out vs. Washington but took a no-decision as his bullpen blew a big lead. Atlanta's Julio Teheran (1-1, 5.40) beat the Phillies in his last start, allowing one run over six and striking out nine, his most since 2016. It was a rare good start at the Braves' new park, where he has been terrible. Teheran was 1-2 with a 3.26 ERA last year in five starts vs. the Mets. Yoenis Cespedes is 4-for-18 with six Ks off him.
Key trends: The Mets are 4-0 in deGrom's past four in Atlanta. The Braves are 1-4 in Teheran's previous five at home vs. the Mets. The under is 5-2 in deGrom's previous seven overall in this series.
Early lean: Mets and under.
Mariners at Rangers (+135, 9)
By far the most unlikely perfect game in MLB history - there have been 23 of them - would have been last Sunday night if 44-year-old Rangers righty Bartolo Colon had been able to accomplish it. This guy was absolutely terrible last year with the Braves and Twins and signed a minor-league deal this spring with Texas. Colon (0-0, 1.45) has been great in 2018 and took a perfecto into the eighth Sunday in Houston - the most feared lineup in baseball. Colon ended up not even getting a decision, throwing 7.2 innings and allowing one hit and run. Colon has 20 career wins vs. the Mariners, the team he has faced more than any other. Robinson Cano is a career .389 hitter against him. Seattle lefty James Paxton (1-1, 4.57) was roughed up in his season debut but has 2.65 ERA since. He's 0-2 with a 6.16 ERA in four career games in Seattle. Adrian Beltre is 9-for-16 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Mariners are 1-5 in Paxton's past six vs. Texas. The under is 8-1-2 in his previous 11 on the road.
Early lean: Mariners and under.
Padres at Diamondbacks (-187, 8)
Big blow to Arizona's hopes of returning to the playoffs as starting pitcher Taijuan Walker indeed does have a partially torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery, which ends this season and likely rules him out the first half of 2019. Walker, one a mega-touted prospect, was acquired before last season in the Jean Segura trade and was very solid with a 9-9 record and 3.49 ERA in 2017. Fellow starter Shelby Miller is on the mend from Tommy John surgery as well. Arizona could be in the market for pitching this summer. Here, it's Zack Godley (2-1, 3.00) for the Snakes. He had been brilliant his first two outings but allowed six runs over four innings last time out at the Dodgers. San Diego's Wil Myers, who is expected to be activated off the DL for this game, is 7-for-15 off Godley with a homer. The Padres counter with lefty Clayton Richard (1-1, 5.73). He was dominant on Opening Day vs. the Brewers and has been lousy since. Richard also has a career 6.20 ERA at Chase Field. Paul Goldschmidt is 10-for-27 against him with nine walks.
Key trends: The Snakes are 0-4 in Godley's past four vs. San Diego. The over is 5-0 in Richard's past five in Arizona.
Early lean: Diamondbacks on runline and over.
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