Daily Expert MLB Picks: Saturday, May 18, 2018, Opening Line Report
Don't you just want to punch overpaid, higher-than-mighty athletes sometimes? The latest is Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, a future Hall of Famer and once the most feared hitter in the game. Cabrera, who went on the 10-day disabled list on May 4 with a hamstring injury, is no longer in any rush to come back because he says he feels unappreciated by fans for when he did play through injuries: "Nobody appreciates you when you play hurt, so I'm going to take my time and play when I'm good. I played hurt a lot of years here in Detroit. They don't appreciate that.". Cabrera, 35, was eligible to come off the DL earlier this week. The 11-time All-Star first baseman was off to a good start this season, batting .323 with three homers and 21 RBIs in his first 26 games, after his numbers dipped last year while playing through two herniated discs. Did I mention the Tigers signed him to an eight-year, $248 million contract in 2016? That may go down as the worst deal in MLB history, and it means that Cabrera is 100 percent untradeable. Can't believe he has the gall to rip the fans. I hope he's booed everywhere he goes now.
Indians at Astros ( -110, 7 )
Looks to be the pitching matchup of the day between AL Cy Young winners. It's a 4:10 p.m. ET start from Minute Maid Park. Two-time winner Corey Kluber (6-2, 2.34) hasn't allowed more than three earned yet this season. He didn't allow any Sunday against Kansas City over seven innings. Kluber's strikeouts have been a bit down in his past three as he's allowing his defense to do more work. Kluber has a 3.26 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 47 career innings vs. the Astros. Marwin Gonzalez is 7-for-14 against him with two homers and six RBIs. Houston lefty Dallas Keuchel (3-5, 3.10) comes off his best start of the year, throwing seven shutout innings and allowing only three hits vs. Texas. Keuchel has allowed three or fewer runs in seven of his eight starts. Tribe catcher Yan Gomes is 5-for-12 off him with two doubles.
Key trends: The Astros are 4-1 in Keuchel's past five vs. Cleveland. The "over/under" has gone under in five of Kluber's past six vs. Houston.
Early lean: Kluber as a slight dog? Take it as it won't happen often. Love under.
Orioles at Red Sox (-175, 9.5)
Which Dylan Bundy will Orioles backers (if there are any left this season) get in Boston? I don't have statistical evidence of the most polar opposite back-to-back starts in MLB history, but Bundy is on the short list. On May 8, he had a historically bad outing in not getting an out and allowing seven runs, five hits and four homers against the Royals for an ERA of infinity. Then last Sunday, he shut out the Rays on two hits over seven innings. Bundy is 3-5 with a 4.66 ERA in 13 appearances against Boston. Brock Holt doesn't play every day but should here as he's 6-for-11 off Bundy with two doubles. Mookie Betts is 6-for-22 with two homers. The Red Sox's Rick Porcello (5-1, 3.28) has been shelled his past two starts, allowing 10 runs and 17 hits in 11.1 innings. He hasn't faced the Orioles this year. Manny Machado is 12-for-36 against him with two homers.
Key trends: The Orioles are 2-5 in Bundy's past seven vs. Boston. The Red Sox are 1-6 in Porcello's previous seven against Baltimore. The under is 6-1-1 in Bundy's previous seven vs. the Sox.
Early lean: Orioles on runline and over.
Brewers at Twins (-142, 9)
Actually, this is the pitching matchup of the day if you go by starters' ERA; Milwaukee will add the DH for the interleague game. The Brewers' Freddy Peralta had one of the best MLB debuts ever Sunday in Colorado, striking out a whopping 13 in 5.2 shutout innings and surrendering one hit. The strikeouts were Brewers record for a debut and made him just the fifth player to fan at least 13 in his first game. The last was Stephen Strasburg with 14 on June 8, 2010. Strasburg was one of the most touted NCAA pitchers ever. Peralta was barely among the Brewers' Top 10 prospects. Minnesota's Fernando Romero hasn't been a slouch, either, as a rookie with a 2-0 record and 0.54 ERA in three starts. Batters are hitting only .193 off him, although he does have nine walks in 16.2 innings. He was Minnesota's No. 2 prospect entering the year and Top 70 overall.
Key trends: The Brewers are 10-4 in their past 14 in Game 2 of a series. The Twins are 12-4 in their past 16 interleague home games vs. a right-hander. The under is 8-0-1 in Milwaukee's past nine interleague road game vs. a righty.
Early lean: Twins and under.
Yankees at Royals (+220, 8.5)
The pitcher with the best money units mark in the majors this season is the Yankees' Luis Severino at +$700 (if you bet $100 on every Yankees game he started). The only game that New York has lost with Severino (6-1, 2.14) on the mound this year was his only lousy outing, allowing five runs over five in Boston on April 10. All six of his starts since have been quality, and he has allowed more than two earned just once in that stretch. He won his only career start vs. the Royals, not allowing a run over eight innings. Kansas City lefty Danny Duffy (1-5, 6.51) has been a flop since getting a nice new contract. He was destroyed last Sunday in Cleveland, allowing nine runs and eight hits, walking five, in 3.1 innings. He's among the worst money units pitchers in MLB at -$691. New York's Aaron Hicks is 3-for-11 with two homers off him.
Key trends: The Yanks have won nine straight Severino starts vs. teams with a losing record. The Royals are 1-9 in Duffy's past 10. The under is 7-0 in the Yankees' past seven vs. a lefty.
Early lean: Royals on runline and under.
Rays at Angels (TBA)
If the Halos stay in the playoff race, which I believe, they will, they might be in the market for a closer ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. That's because Keynan Middleton, who had been closing, is likely done for the year after going back on the DL with elbow discomfort. One doctor already has diagnosed UCL damage, so Tommy John surgery is expected. The Halos have guys like Jim Johnson, Blake Parker and Cam Bedrosian but might want an established closer. Middleton is the sixth Angels pitcher to suffer elbow ligament damage since the summer of 2014. One of those is lefty Andrew Heaney (2-2, 3.93), but the 26-year-old looks fully healthy and ready to live up to once-lofty expectations. He was rocked on April 20 vs. the Giants but has surrendered just five earned runs in 25 innings since. Only a few Rays have seen him. Tampa's Ryan Yarbrough (3-2, 3.93) began the year in the bullpen and has gone exactly five in his three starts since a move to the rotation, two of those solid outings. The rookie hasn't faced the Angels.
Key trends: The Angels are 4-9 in Heaney's past 13. The over is 4-1 in his previous five vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Angels will be solid favorites (Yarbrough not official as of this writing) with a total of likely 8.5-9. Take LAA on the runline and over.
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