Daily Expert MLB Picks: Saturday, June 2, 2018, Opening Line Report
At the first of each month, the various sportsbooks generally release updated MLB player awards props. Really no surprises on the MVP and Cy Young odds. The Angels' Mike Trout is on pace for the best WAR season in MLB history and is the +200 favorite for AL MVP with Boston's Mookie Betts at +300 and then a huge drop-off. It appears to be a three-man race for NL MVP between Bryce Harper (+400), Nolan Arenado (+400) and Freddie Freeman (+600). I think Harper is vastly overrated - he hits homers but is batting around .240. That's modern-day baseball for you, though. On the Cy Young odds, Houston has three legit candidates in Justin Verlander (+200), Gerrit Cole (+600) and Charlie Morton (+1200). On the NL side, it's Max Scherzer's to lose at +150 with Jacob deGrom at +500 and then a huge drop-off. I've yet to see Rookie of the Year odds.
Indians at Twins ( +130, 9 )
Fox Sports 1 game at 4:10 p.m. ET. Double dose of bad news for the Twins as center fielder Byron Buxton is back on the disabled list with a fractured left big toe. He hurt that while on rehab for migraines and struggled through it since returning from the first DL stint. Meanwhile, ace Ervin Santana, yet to pitch in the majors this year, had a setback with his surgically-repaired right middle finger and was removed from his rehab assignment. Minnesota's Lance Lynn (3-4, 5.94) might be finally adjusting to the AL with back-to-back quality starts to lower his ERA from 7.47. He hasn't faced Cleveland this year. Yonder Alonso is 2-for-12 off him. The Indians' Trevor Bauer (4-3, 2.61) had back-to-back scoreless starts but allowed four runs in 7.1 innings Sunday in a no-decision vs. Houston. It's his first look at the Twins in 2018. Joe Mauer is a career .325 hitter off him in 40 at-bats.
Key trends: The Indians are 4-1 in Bauer's past five vs. the Twins. The "over/under" is 1-4 in those. The over is 7-1 in Lynn's past eight.
Early lean: Indians and under.
Cubs at Mets (-130, 7.5)
The Mets' deGrom (4-0, NL-leading 1.52 ERA) is the only young pitcher on that staff who can stay healthy, it seems. He has been magnificent over his past seven starts in allowing two earned runs (one was just an inning but still). Yet the former NL Rookie of the Year is just 2-0 over that stretch and the Mets have lost five of those because of their pathetic offense. The collective Cubs who have faced him are batting just .212. Kris Bryant has had success, though, going 3-for-7 with two homers. Chicago lefty Mike Montgomery has made no secret he wants to be a full-time starter instead of a swing guy. Montgomery (1-1, 4.35) might get his wish if he keeps pitching like he did Monday in Pittsburgh when he shut out the Bucs over 5.2 innings in his first start of 2018. No Met has more than four at-bats off him.
Key trends: The Mets are 2-8 in deGrom's past 10 at home. The under is 7-0 in his past seven overall.
Early lean: Mets on runline and under.
Red Sox at Astros (-172, 7.5)
Boston-Houston had the pitching matchup of the night Friday with Chris Sale vs. Cole, and it does again here with former AL Cy Young winners David Price and Verlander. Price (5-4, 4.04), also a two-time Cy Young runner-up, doesn't seem to be in that category any longer. He has been much better of late, however, as Boston has won all four and he has surrendered no more than two earned runs in any of them. Price is walking too many guys with 26 in 11 starts. Jose Altuve is 7-for-19 off him. Carlos Correa 2-for-5 with a homer. Verlander (7-2, 1.11) should be the favorite to add to his 2011 AL Cy Young (he also won MVP then) as he leads the league in several categories and amazingly has given up just 12 runs in 12 starts. In May, he had a 0.86 ERA yet lost twice. Mitch Moreland isn't afraid of him as Moreland is 10-for-29 with six doubles. Dustin Pedroia (3-for-27) might get the night off (he's dealing with knee soreness as it is).
Key trends: The Astros are 8-3 in Verlander's past 11 at home. The under has hit in seven straight Verlander starts.
Early lean: Astros and under.
Phillies at Giants (+100, 8)
Philadelphia has lost one of its good young players in outfielder Rhys Hoskins to a broken jaw. It was quite an unusual injury as he was hit in the mouth by his own foul ball. He actually played the next day after clearing the concussion protocol, but then a further exam revealed the fracture. It's not clear how long he will be out. Hoskins got off to a good start but had struggled in May and is hitting .229 with six home runs and 28 RBIs this season. The Phils go with Vince Velasquez (4-5, 4.08). He took a no-hitter into the sixth Monday at the Dodgers but would leave after 5.2 allowing three hits and two runs. Velasquez went 3-1 with a 2.30 ERA in five starts in May. Giants lefty Andrew Suarez (1-4, 5.65) hasn't won since May 6 nor gone more than five innings in three of his past four. It's his first career look at the Phillies.
Key trends: The Phils are 2-6 in Velasquez's past eight vs. the NL West. The Giants are 1-4 in Suarez's past five vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 3-0-1 in his past four.
Early lean: Phillies and over.
Marlins at Diamondbacks (-185, 8)
Miami is set to make a change at closer with Kyle Barraclough to take over for Brad Ziegler, who has been arguably the worst reliever in all of baseball thus far with a 0-5 record and 7.83 ERA as of this writing. So much for flipping Ziegler for a prospect this summer. Miami starts lefty Caleb Smith (4-5, 3.51). He has won back-to-back starts, both on the road, allowing just two earned runs and seven hits over 13.2 innings. He has never faced Arizona. The Snakes counter with Zack Greinke (3-4, 3.65). He hasn't won since April 30. Greinke was good in Oakland last Sunday (6 IP, 2 ER) but got no run support. He will be happy to be home as Greinke is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in six starts at Chase Field in 2018.
Key trends: The Snakes are 20-6 in Greinke's past 26 at home. The under is 5-2 in Smith's previous seven. It's 5-0 in Greinke's past five.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and under.
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