Daily Expert MLB Picks: Thursday, May 24, 2018, Opening Line Report
Baseball is probably more of a crapshoot in forecasting potential stars or even major leaguers than the NBA, NFL or NHL. As proof, let's take the case of Jon Singleton, who has been released by the Houston Astros. Singleton was the key piece back when the Astros traded Hunter Pence to Philadelphia in 2011. He immediately became Houston's No. 1 prospect and was Top 50 in all of baseball. The day before making his MLB debut in 2014, the team announced it had signed Singleton to five-year, $10 million extension in order to buy out some arbitration/free agent years. For some reason, the team offered that even though Singleton had been suspended twice for testing positive for marijuana. Singleton was the No. 3 prospect in the organization behind Mark Appel (a major bust as the No. 1 overall pick in 2013) and Carlos Correa (superstar and the 2012 first overall pick) by the time he made his big-league debut on June 3, 2014. As a rookie, Singleton hit 13 homers and knocked in 44 in 310 at-bats but also hit an anemic .168 and struck out 134 times. He played only 19 games in 2015, and in January of this year was suspended 100 games for a third positive drug test. Maybe he would have been a good player had he kept his drug habit in control, but those are the risks a team takes in offering such an unproven guy big money.
Angels at Blue Jays ( +105, 9.5 )
A 12:37 p.m. ET series finale and also one of those games only able to be seen via Facebook Live. It has the highest opening total. The Angels' Nick Tropeano (1-3, 4.45) lasted a season-low 2.2 innings last time out, knocked around for six hits and four runs while walking three in a home loss to Tampa Bay. It's his first career start against Toronto, although Kendrys Morales (0-for-5) and Curtis Granderson (0-for-3) have seen him. The Jays' Marco Estrada (2-4, 5.15) hasn't won since April 20 at the Yankees. He has gotten very little run support in his past three. He threw 6.2 innings and allowed three runs vs. Oakland on Friday but took the loss as Toronto managed one run. The Angels' Mike Trout is 3-for-8 with a homer off him. Albert Pujols is 3-for-7 with a dinger.
Key trends: The Angels are 1-5 in Tropeano's past six vs. the AL East. The Angels are 9-4 in Estrada's past 13 on five days of rest. The "over/under" has gone under in five straight Tropeano starts. It's 5-2 in Estrada's past seven vs. the AL West.
Early lean: Angels and under.
Orioles at White Sox (+110, 9)
A 2:10 p.m. ET first pitch in the South Side as the two of the worst teams in the majors conclude a series. Interesting matchup here between two young right-handed former first-round picks who were once among the top pitching prospects in the majors. Baltimore's Dylan Bundy (2-6, 4.70) has regressed some from last season, having allowed at least seven runs in three of his starts. Then he'll dominate a couple. He comes off a loss in Boston, surrendering four runs over six innings along with three more homers. That's 13 HRs allowed in 10 starts, among the most in the majors. Chicago's Jose Abreu is 6-for-9 off him with a homer. The White Sox's Lucas Giolito won vs. Texas on Saturday with a quality start (6 IP, 2 ER), his fourth such of the season. His problem is walks: AL-high 33 free passes. Giolito has never faced the Orioles.
Key trends: The Orioles are 9-4 in Bundy's past 13 vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 4-0-1 in his past five. The under is 12-3-1 in Giolito's past 16.
Early lean: Orioles and over.
Red Sox at Rays (+115, 8)
The Rays just called up their top position prospect, shortstop Willy Adames (Top 25 in all of MLB), and he homered off Chris Sale in his second at-bat Tuesday. Yet, Manager Kevin Cash says Adames is only up for a few games. We'll see. Rays catcher Wilson Ramos could miss a while after he left Tuesday's game after getting hit on the hand by a pitch. It's being called a bruise for now. Tampa lefty Blake Snell (5-3, 3.07) is starting to live up to his once-touted prospect rating. He beat the Angels last time out, allowing two runs over 6.2 innings. He's 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts this year vs. Boston. Mookie Betts is 4-for-15 off him with two double and a homer. The Sox's Rick Porcello (6-1, 3.39) is 2-0 with a 3.10 ERA in three starts vs. Tampa in 2018. Denard Span hits .370 off him career in 46 at-bats.
Key trends: The Sox are 4-1 in Porcello's past five at the Rays. Tampa is 1-4 in Snell's past five vs. Boston. The under is 4-1 in Porcello's previous five vs. Tampa.
Early lean: Rays and under.
Astros at Indians (+126, 8)
One of the big series of the weekend gets underway. Last weekend, Cleveland lost two of three in Houston. Charlie Morton (6-0, 1.94) is one of three Cy Young contenders on that ridiculous Astros staff. His past two starts have been exactly the same: seven innings, one run (solo homer) and four hits allowed. That includes last Friday when he beat these Indians. Edwin Encarnacion is 3-for-6 off Morton with two homers. Cleveland's Mike Clevinger (3-1, 2.87) was opposite Morton last Friday and took the loss, allowing three runs over 6.1 innings. It was Clevinger's fourth straight quality start. Houston's George Springer is 2-for-6 off him.
Key trends: The Indians are 8-3 in Clevinger's past 11 at home. The under is 12-5-1 in his past 18 there. Houston is 2-6 in the past eight meetings.
Early lean: Indians and under.
Mets at Brewers (-145, 8.5)
These clubs played a three-game set at Citi Field from April 13-15, and the Mets won two of three - both victories by a run. Incidentally, the Mets just signed recently released Jose Bautista to be used as an outfielder with Yoenis Cespedes on the DL and Juan Lagares likely out for the season. Don't the Mets have enough past-their-prime guys on the roster already? Bautista debuted Tuesday in left. The Mets start lefty Steven Matz (1-3, 4.42). He has struggled to go deep into games in 2018 and lasted only four innings Saturday vs. Arizona. That lone victory was April 13 vs. the Brewers (5.1 IP, 3 ER). Hernan Perez is 2-for-8 with a homer off him. Milwaukee's Zach Davies (2-3, 4.24) is expected to be activated off the DL (shoulder) and start for the first time since April 29. He was roughed up at the Mets on April 13 (4.1 IP, 5 ER). Todd Frazier is 3-for-5 off him with two homers.
Key trends: The Mets are 2-6 in Matz's past eight on the road. The Brewers are 10-3 in Davies' past 13 at home. The over is 4-0-1 in Davies' past five vs. the Mets.
Early lean: Brewers and over.
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