Daily Expert MLB Picks: Thursday, May 3, 2018, Opening Line Report
Led by former Tampa Bay Rays GM Andrew Friedman, the front office of the Los Angeles Dodgers is one of the best in the business, without question. Yet, if they knew that superstar shortstop Corey Seager was having elbow troubles last year, why not have him undergo surgery right after the World Series? Position players return from Tommy John surgery much faster than pitchers for obvious reasons. The baseball world was stunned at the news Monday that Seager's 2018 season was over due to Tommy John surgery to repair a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm. I hesitate to say the Dodgers are toast now, but Seager is their best all-around hitter.
Since the start of the 2016 season when Seager was NL Rookie of the Year, the Dodgers had a .604 winning percentage with him in the lineup and averaged 4.7 runs per game compared to a winning percentage of .488 without and average runs scored of 4.1. Seager's 12 WAR was the best on the team and fourth among all big-league shortstops, behind three spectacular players in Houston's Carlos Correa, the Angels' Andrelton Simmons and the Indians' Francisco Lindor. L.A. has the prospects and the finances to trade for Baltimore shortstop Manny Machado, who almost certainly will be dealt by July 31. However, Friedman generally doesn't like to pay a high price for rentals, last year's Yu Darvish trade the exception. Plus, Machado could bring some luxury tax issues. The Seager injury certainly is great news for NL West-leading Arizona as well as any other teams competing for a wild-card spot.
Game 1: Blue Jays at Indians ( -192, 8.5 )
A 1:10 p.m. ET start from Progressive Field in the first of a doubleheader. The Jays have lost outfielder and offseason trade acquisition Randal Grichuk for three weeks to a sprained PCL. He has been a bust with a .106 average and .208 OBP. It's lefty Jaime Garcia (2-2, 5.40) in the opener of the DH for Toronto. Since allowing one run in six innings in his Toronto debut on April 2, he hasn't been very good. He allowed a season-high five runs last time out in a loss to Texas. Cleveland's Jose Ramirez is 3-for-6 off him. The Tribe's Carlos Carrasco (4-1, 3.08) has dominated everyone this season except his two starts vs. Seattle, although he did win one of those. He is 3-1 with a 4.80 ERA in six career outings against the Blue Jays.
Key trends: The Indians are 4-0 in Carrasco's past four vs. Toronto. The "over/under" is 9-3 in his previous 12 at home.
Early lean: Indians on runline and over.
Yankees at Astros (-137, 8.5)
It's New York's final game this season at Minute Maid Park, which has been a house of horrors in recent years for the Yankees, unless the teams meet in the playoffs again. A 2:10 p.m. ET first pitch on the MLB Network. The Yanks start Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.37). He went six last time out, allowing one run and two hits in a win at the Angels. Tanaka faced the Astros twice in the 2017 ALCS, losing Game 1 (6 IP, 2 ER) and winning Game 5 (7 IP, 0 ER). In regular-season action, Carlos Correa is 5-for-10 with two homers and five RBIs off him. Houston's Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1, 3.71) shut out the A's on two hits over seven in his last start and has surrendered more than two earned just once all season. His ERA is higher than you'd think because of one terrible start in Minnesota. New York's Didi Gregorius is 5-for-8 against him.
Key trends: The Yankees are 1-5 in Tanaka's past six vs. Houston. The over is 6-0 in McCullers' previous six vs. the AL East.
Early lean: Astros and over.
Tigers at Royals (-117, 9.5)
A 2:15 p.m. ET first pitch. Not like the Tigers were expecting to even win 70 games this season, but they will be without starting pitcher Daniel Norris, the key piece back from Toronto a couple of years ago in the David Price trade, for 8-12 weeks following groin surgery. Here, it's Mike Fiers (2-2, 3.91) for Detroit. He was one of those veterans signed the Tigers hope they can flip for a prospect this summer. Fiers took the loss in Baltimore on Sunday, allowing three runs over six. He beat Kansas City on April 21 (5 IP, 10 H, 2 ER). Lucas Duda is 5-for-10 with two doubles against him. Royals lefty Eric Skoglund (1-2, 6.23) comes off his best start of the year in beating the White Sox (7 IP, 1 ER, 9 Ks). He took a no-decision on April 22 in Detroit (5 IP, 4 ER).
Key trends: The Tigers are 2-6 in their past eight vs. a lefty. The Royals are 2-6 in Skoglund's past eight. The over is 5-2 in Skoglund's past seven.
Early lean: Tigers and under.
Dodgers at Diamondbacks (+100, 7.5)
This is a 3:40 p.m. ET series finale only available to be seen on Facebook Live. Could it be Arizona's 10th straight series win to open the season? That would set an MLB record. It's lefty Alex Wood (0-3, 4.11) for Los Angeles, and it's looking more and more like his great start to last season was a fluke when he was an All-Star. He lost in Arizona on April 4, surrendering three runs over six. AJ Pollock hits .421 off Wood with three doubles and two homers in 19 at-bats. Arizona lefty Patrick Corbin (4-0, 2.25) dominated the Dodgers on April 4, allowing one hit and striking out 12 over 7.1 innings. Corbin took a groundball off the ring finger on his throwing hand during the sixth inning of his outing Saturday against the Nationals but apparently is fine. Matt Kemp is 5-for-18 off him with three doubles and four RBIs.
Key trends: The Diamondbacks are 1-5 in Corbin's past six vs. L.A. The under is 5-2 in his previous seven at home against the Dodgers. The under is 4-1 in Wood's past five vs. Arizona.
Early lean: Diamondbacks (how are they opening dogs?) and under.
Twins at White Sox (-102, 9)
ESPN+ game. It's only the second matchup of the season between division rivals. They were set to play four games in Minneapolis from April 12-15, but the final three were snowed out. The Twins just put Miguel Sano on the DL to join Byron Buxton there. Sano is dealing with a hamstring injury that is worse than expected. The 2017 All-Star has been a disappointment thus far in hitting just .213 with five homers. Minnesota starts Jake Odorizzi (2-2, 3.94). He beat the Reds on Saturday, giving up one run over six. The Sox's Jose Abreu is 2-for-8 off him. Chicago's Reynaldo Lopez (0-1, 1.78) is looking like the big prize thus far from the Adam Eaton trade to Washington. He has yet to allow more than two earned in five starts this year but hasn't gotten any run support to get a win. Lopez has never faced the Twins, although Logan Morrison is 2-for-3 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Twins have won four straight in the series. The under is 5-2 in the previous seven meetings.
Early lean: White Sox and under.
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