Daily Expert MLB Picks: Thursday, April 5, 2018, Opening Line Report
As expected, the Seattle Mariners have placed slugger and DH Nelson Cruz on the 10-day disabled list with an ankle injury, but the team avoided disaster when an MRI showed no ligament trouble. Cruz started the season with two homers in his first six at-bats - and has at least 39 bombs in each of the past four years -- but slipped on the dugout steps after a two-run homer in the sixth inning of Saturday's game against Cleveland. The move was retroactive to April 1. The M's will likely use Daniel Vogelbach at DH while Cruz is out. That should give you a bit more of a lean toward an under bet in Mariners games if all other things are equal.
Mets at Nationals ( -150, 7.5 )
A 1:05 p.m. ET first pitch from D.C. and the Nats' home opener weather permitting. The Mets are without one of their setup men in Anthony Swarzak, who has landed on the DL retroactive to April 1 with an oblique injury - seems to be a lot of those going around MLB. It's the pitching matchup of the day between Jacob deGrom and Stephen Strasburg, although neither technically would be considered his team's ace. DeGrom absolutely loves day games as he improved to 18-8 with a 1.98 ERA career in them by holding the Cardinals to one run in 5 2/3 innings in his season debut. Last year, he was 3-2 with a 2.36 ERA in five starts vs. Washington. Ryan Zimmerman is 5-for-16 off him with two homers and seven RBIs. The Nats' Stephen Strasburg beat the Reds in his season debut, allowing one earned over 6.1 innings. He was 1-1 with a 2.96 ERA last year in four starts vs. the Mets. Yoenis Cespedes is 8-fof-15 off him but hasn't homered.
Key trends: The Nationals are 9-1 in Strasburg's past 10 starts. The "over/under" has gone under in five of the Mets' past seven vs. the NL East.
Early lean: Nationals and under.
Rockies at Padres (+108, 8)
It's a 3:40 p.m. ET first pitch from Petco Park. At least we know this one will get played; can't remember a game being postponed by weather in San Diego. The Friars might not have outfielder Wil Myers for a bit as he left Monday's game against Colorado with triceps soreness and sat Tuesday. Myers had to shift to right field this year with the team signing first baseman Eric Hosmer. The Rockies start lefty Tyler Anderson. He was bombed last Friday at Arizona, allowing seven runs and walking four in 2.1 innings but avoided a loss. Myers might have sat out regardless as he's 0-for-8 off Anderson with four Ks. Young lefty Joey Lucchesi is one of San Diego's top pitching prospects and debuted by allowing three runs in 4.2 innings in a no-decision vs. Milwaukee last week.
Key trends: The Rockies are 10-4 in the past 14 in the series. The over is 6-4 in Anderson's past 10.
Early lean: Rockies and under.
Tigers at White Sox (-131, 9.5)
Start time of 4:10 p.m. ET from the South Side. Two rebuilding teams in the AL Central, although the White Sox are way ahead in that regard and could be good again as soon as 2019. It's also Chicago's home opener. The Tigers start Jordan Zimmermann, who has been a big-money free-agent bust in his two-plus season with the team. He was OK in his debut on March 30, allowing four runs over six in a no-decision vs. Pittsburgh. Zimmermann went 2-1 despite a 6.19 ERA in three starts against the White Sox last season, all before mid-June. Jose Abreu is 8-for-15 off him with a homer and five RBIs. Chicago's James Shields allowed four first-inning runs in his debut vs. the Royals but then shut them down for the next five innings in a victory. Miguel Cabrera is a career .371 hitter with four homers in 70 at-bats vs. Shields.
Key trends: The White Sox are 7-3 in their past 10 vs. a right-hander. The over is 7-3 in Zimmermann's past 10.
Early lean: White Sox and over.
Diamondbacks at Cardinals (+100, 8)
MLB Network series opener and two teams I believe will be in the wild-card hunt - of course, Arizona was a wild-card team last year. The Diamondbacks were interested in trading for the Marlins' Marcell Ozuna this offseason but apparently couldn't match the package St. Louis sent Miami. It's lefty Robbie Ray on the mound for the Snakes. The 2017 All-Star was lit up for seven runs in five innings in his season debut vs. Colorado but still got the win. He only threw 1.2 innings last year vs. St. Louis. Dexter Fowler is 5-for-8 against him with a homer. Michael Wacha has the honor of starting the Cards' home opener. He wasn't sharp Saturday at the Mets, allowing four runs over 4.2 innings in a loss. Wacha threw six shutout innings in his lone 2017 start vs. Arizona. A.J. Pollock is 3-for-7 with a homer against him.
Key trends: The Cards are 14-6 in their past 20 vs. a starter with a WHIP north of 1.30. The over has hit in six straight starts by Ray.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
Cubs at Brewers (+118, 9)
First of what should be many interesting games between these rivals - they are rivals again with the Brewers a true threat in the NL Central. Maybe the Cubs can find their bats close to home as they are striking out at a historic pace thus far. This was scheduled to be Kyle Hendricks for Chicago, but Tuesday's weather postponement in Cincinnati lands Jon Lester here; that could be an issue because few teams steal bases more than the Brewers, and Lester simply can't throw to first base. Joe Maddon set up his rotation originally so Lester would miss this series for exactly that reason. Lester wasn't good on Opening Day in Miami, allowing four runs and seven hits over 3.1 innings. Milwaukee's Ryan Braun is 7-for-16 off him with two doubles. Brewers lefty Brent Suter won in San Diego on Saturday, surrendering three runs over five innings. He was 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA in four appearances (two starts) last year vs. the Cubbies. Anthony Rizzo is looking for his first hit vs. Suter in eight at-bats.
Key trends: The over is 8-2 in Lester's past 10. The Brewers have won five straight Suter starts.
Early lean: Brewers and over.
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