Daily Expert MLB Picks: Saturday, May 12, 2018, Opening Line Report
What justifies calling a player an all-time great in franchise history in the four major American team sports leagues? Does he have to be in the Top 5? If so, then Andrew McCutchen isn't an all-time Pirate because he's behind at minimum guys like Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Paul Waner, Willie Stargell and Barry Bonds. Probably Arky Vaughan and Ralph Kiner too. That said, McCutchen was one of the best Pirates of this century, no question, and for a five-year stretch from 2011-15 was one of the top all-around players in baseball. Many fans revolted when the Bucs basically gave away the ultra-popular McCutchen, the 2013 National League MVP and five-time All-Star, in a salary dump this past winter to the San Francisco Giants. One of the big story lines around MLB this weekend is McCutchen's return to Pittsburgh. I can almost assure you there will be more fans wearing McCutchen Pirates jerseys in the stands at PNC Park than any current Pittsburgh players.
A's at Yankees ( -175, 9.5 )
First game of the day at 1:05 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and the MLB Network. It's fair to say the Yankees have had some pretty good pitchers in their history. Yet 25-year-old Dominican Domingo German (0-1, 2.66) had arguably the best starting debut in franchise history last Sunday vs. Cleveland with six no-hit innings, striking out nine. That wasn't his overall debut as German pitched 14.1 innings last year out of the bullpen and had made five relief appearances this season. He obviously wasn't stretched out enough to even consider letting him go any further than 84 pitches. If you are wondering, no player has thrown a no-hitter in his first career start since Bobo Holloman for the St. Louis Browns on May 6, 1953. A few A's have seen German; Matt Joyce is 1-for-1 with a double. Oakland's Andrew Triggs (3-1, 4.41) comes off a strong start as well, allowing one run and two hits over seven in a win over Baltimore on Sunday. New York's Aaron Judge is 1-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs off Triggs.
Key trends: The A's are 1-5 in Triggs' past six vs. teams with a winning record. The Yanks have won their past four on Saturday. The "over/under" is 6-1 in Triggs' past seven on the road.
Early lean: A's on runline and over.
Mariners at Tigers (+109, 9)
It's now inaccurate to call Felix Hernandez (4-3, 5.28) the Seattle ace; he probably hasn't been the one since 2016 (maybe 2015) - it's James Paxton now. King Felix just isn't the guy any longer with all those innings on his arm and generally won't get you more than six innings. He went 5.2 last time out vs. the Angels, allowing five runs and seven hits in a loss. The 32-year-old is 9-4 with a 2.79 ERA in 16 career starts vs. Detroit. Fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera hits him well, going 11-for-28. So does Leonys Martin (11-for-32, six XBH). Detroit's Michael Fulmer (1-2, 3.51) actually got some run support Monday in Texas but allowed five himself in 5.2 innings in his fourth straight no-decision. It was just the second outing in which he allowed more than two runs this season. Seattle's Nelson Cruz is 2-for-3 off him with a double.
Key trends: The Mariners are 10-4 in Hernandez's past 14 vs. Detroit. The Tigers are 0-4 in Fulmer's past four vs. the AL West. The under is 5-1 in Fulmer's past six at home.
Early lean: Mariners and under.
Mets at Phillies (+136, 8)
The Mets appear to be imploding, capped off by that embarrassing episode of hitting out of order the other day. How does that happen in the top of the first inning? Maybe after a double switch or two during the game you can understand it. The Mets hadn't had that happen to them since 1977. That said, the Mets will be favored just about anytime Noah Syndergaard (2-1, 3.09) takes the mound. "Thor" hasn't won since April 9, but it hasn't been his fault. He went four innings April 4 vs. the Phillies in a no-decision. Odubel Herrera is just 1-for-17 off him. Philadelphia's Zach Elfin (1-0, 0.71) makes his third start and has allowed just one run and seven hits in 12.2 innings vs. the Giants and Marlins. New York's Michael Conforto is 1-for-5 with a homer off him. Elfin won't have to worry about Jay Bruce, who has gone on paternity leave.
Key trends: The Mets are 5-2 in Syndergaard's past seven vs. the Phillies. The under is 5-1-1 in his past seven. The over is 4-1 in Elfin's previous five at home.
Early lean: Mets and under.
Giants at Pirates (-115, 8.5)
If you are wondering, the Bucs got pitcher Kyle Crick, minor-league outfielder Bryan Reynolds, $500,000 in international signing bonus allocation and some cash from the Giants. That doesn't seem like a great return - Crick is an OK reliever with the big club this year - but McCutchen had been trending down and was due nearly $15 million this season before hitting free agency. McCutchen has been rather blah in 2018 for San Francisco. McCutchen will face Chad Kuhl (4-2, 4.12). He had been terrible on the road this year but shut out the Brewers on one hit over seven on Sunday at Miller Park. Kuhl has allowed only six runs in 17 innings over three home starts in 2018. San Francisco's Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 6.62) usually is one of the best control pitchers in baseball - he gives up a lot of hits because he throws so many strikes. Walks have been a major issue in four starts, though, with 13 of them in 17.2 innings. "Shark" also has yet to last more than five innings. Starling Marte is 8-for-31 off him with 10 Ks.
Key trends: The Giants are 2-8 in Samardzija's past 10 on Saturday. The Bucs are 8-2 in Kuhl's past 10 at home. The over is 6-0-1 in Kuhl's past seven and 4-0 in Samardzija's past four overall.
Early lean: Pirates and over.
Reds at Dodgers (-175, 8.5)
The worst money unit pitcher in baseball this year has been Clayton Kershaw (-$975). That's shocking. Not too surprising that No. 2 is Cincinnati's Homer Bailey at -$805. Bailey (0-5, 5.61) has made eight starts and the Reds have lost them all. Three starts ago, he gave up four runs in five innings. The next time out, five runs in five. Then last time out, six over four. The 32-year-old needs to retire. Bailey also has allowed 11 homers over his past four. Chase Utley has seen him more than any Dodger, going 7-for-28 with two RBIs. L.A.'s Ross Stripling (0-1, 1.93) is basically taking Kershaw's spot in the rotation. Stripling went four scoreless innings last time out in San Diego on just a couple of days rest. No Red has more than two at-bats against him.
Key trends: The Reds are 1-11 in Bailey's past 12 on Saturday. The Dodgers are 2-7 in Stripling's past nine. The under is 10-4 in Bailey's past 14. It's 5-0 in Stripling's past five at home.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
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