Daily Expert MLB Picks: Saturday, May 5, 2018, Opening Line Report
Maybe when I'm a senior citizen, I'll consider Mike Trout the best baseball player I saw in my lifetime. Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens were three of the best players ever without question - but we all know the cloud that follows them around. Right now, I consider the best all-around MLB player I saw to be Ichiro Suzuki. And it appears his player career is over. Ichiro has decided to stop playing this year - he was a reserve with the Mariners - and transition to the front office. Ichiro didn't officially say he was retiring, but it's pretty obvious. Assuming Ichiro doesn't play again, he would end his career with a record 4,367 professional hits (more than Pete Rose) spread between MLB and Japan, where he played for nine seasons. He has 3,089 hits in the major leagues, placing him 22nd on the career list. Just imagine the numbers he would have put up in the majors had he come over here at like age 20. That guy was a spectacular right fielder with a cannon for an arm, terrific base-runner and simply baseball-savvy. I saw him in batting practice a few times, and many around MLB believe he could have hit 25 homers a season if he wanted to sacrifice a bit of average. Ichiro also reportedly had a 90-mph-plus fastball. About the only thing missing from Ichiro's resume is that he never played in a World Series. He was the centerpiece - AL MVP & Rookie of the Year - of that record-setting 2001 Mariners team that won 116 games but lost in the ALCS to the Yankees.
Indians at Yankees ( -116, 9.5 )
An MLB Network game at 1:05 p.m. ET. It's the first time on the mound for Cleveland's Trevor Bauer since he basically accused the Astros pitchers of doctoring baseballs to increase spin rate - and then doubled down on the entire sport. Do I think most pitchers use some sort of substance to help with their grip, etc.? No question. Probably most on Cleveland's staff. Bauer better hope he's not one of them because no one likes a tattletale, and I almost hope the Yankees ask an umpire to check Bauer's glove or hat during this game. Bauer (2-2, 2.45) is working on a string of five straight quality starts and has allowed more than two earned just once all season. He has a 2.87 ERA in 15 2/3 career innings at Yankee Stadium. New York's Sonny Gray (1-2, 6.67) has been a huge disappointment. Perhaps he's turning it around, though, as Gray held the Astros to two runs and four hits over six innings last time out, although he still lost. Control has been a major problem with 19 walks in 27 innings. The Yankees are now pairing him with backup catcher Austin Romine in order to smooth things out. So, I guess Gary Sanchez either sits out or is at DH here; if he is at DH, Giancarlo Stanton has to play the outfield. Doubt Stanton sits.
Key trends: The Indians are 6-1 in Bauer's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The Yanks are 1-4 in Gray's past five in same situation. The "over/under" is 6-0 in Gray's past six at home.
Early lean: Indians and under.
Cubs at Cardinals (-132, 8.5)
A 2:15 p.m. ET start after a night game so both starting catchers - Willson Contreras and Yadier Molina - could sit this one out. More likely Molina simply because of his age. While Yu Darvish has been a free-agent bust thus far for Chicago, Tyler Chatwood (2-3, 2.83) has been pretty good. He has allowed just one run and six hits over 13 innings in winning back-to-back starts over the Brewers and Indians. Chatwood lost to St. Louis on April 17, going a season-low 4.2 innings (2 ER, 7 BB). Matt Carpenter is 3-for-6 off him. The Cards' Luke Weaver (2-2, 5.17) started the year with three good starts but his past three have been lousy, including April 19 at Wrigley (4 IP, 6 ER). Javier Baez is 4-for-7 with a homer off him.
Key trends: The Cards are 1-4 in Weaver's past five at home vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 9-4-1 in St. Louis' past 14 in Game 2 of a series.
Early lean: Cubs and over.
Rockies at Mets (-130, 8)
It appears New York has avoided disaster on pitcher Jacob deGrom. The former NL Rookie of the Year hyperextended his elbow while swinging the bat in Wednesday's game against the Braves. Early reports were that he might miss four starts, but then Manager Mickey Callaway said that he expects Jacob deGrom to make his next start Monday against the Reds. That seems a bit optimistic, but at least an MRI showed no structural damage. The Mets rotation all of a sudden looks a tad shaky because lefty Steven Matz (1-2, 4.98) hasn't been particularly good. He was to start Tuesday but had minor back soreness, so the team pushed him back to here. Matz hasn't gone more than 5.1 innings yet in five starts and just 7.1 combined in the past two. Colorado's Nolan Arenado is 2-for-8 with two homers against him. The Rockies' Chad Bettis (3-1, 2.43) took the loss in Miami last time out despite a strong outing (7 IP, 2 ER). He has gone at least seven innings in three of his last four starts.
Key trends: The Mets are 4-9 in Matz's past 13 at home. The under is 7-0 in Betts' previous seven against the NL East.
Early lean: Rockies and under.
Blue Jays at Rays (-108, 8)
Toronto activated third baseman Josh Donaldson from the DL on Thursday but could be without first baseman and 2017 All-Star Justin Smoak here. He was placed on the paternity list on Thursday. Smoak sort of got hosed in a way because that list allows players to miss up to three games. However, Toronto played a doubleheader on Thursday, so presumably he will be back Saturday. The Jays start Aaron Sanchez (2-2, 4.06). He has gone at least six innings in all but one start. Control has been a bit of an issue for him with 18 walks on the season. He is 1-1 with a 1.24 ERA in 11 career appearances vs. the Rays. Tampa Bay's Jacob Faria (2-1, 4.60) comes off the top start of his young career, shutting out the Tigers on three hits over eight innings. Faria went 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA against the Blue Jays last season.
Key trends: The Jays are 14-3 in Sanchez's past 17 vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 5-0 in his past five vs. the Rays.
Early lean: Jays and under.
Astros at Diamondbacks (+105, 8.5)
Potentially the pitching matchup of the night in what looks to be the marquee series of the weekend between division leaders. It's vastly underrated Charlie Morton (4-0, 1.72) for Houston. He gets overshadowed on his own team by Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Dallas Keuchel but Morton has been arguably better than all of them (Keuchel for sure). Morton beat the Yankees on Monday, allowing one run and two hits over 7.2 innings with 10 Ks. His WIP is 0.98 and BAA a ridiculous .177. Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt is 3-for-12 off him. The Snakes' Zack Greinke (3-2, 4.50) beat the Dodgers on Monday, surrendering two runs and striking out 10. Houston's Jose Altuve is 9-for-21 against him with a homer.
Key trends: The Diamondbacks are 7-3 in Greinke's past 10 interleague starts. The under is 9-4 in Morton's past 13. It's 9-4-1 in Greinke's past 13 vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and under.
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