Daily Expert MLB Picks: Tuesday, April 3, 2018, Opening Line Report
If you are the type of baseball fan who celebrates historic milestones, you are likely to be left wanting this season as there aren't any many major numbers set to be reached. The big one would be 3,000 hits, which the Angels' Albert Pujols should land sometime in early May barring injury. Late in the season, also barring injury, he also should join the very exclusive 2,000-RBI club. Only Hank Aaron (2,297), Babe Ruth (2,214), Alex Rodriguez (2,086) and Cap Anson (2,075) are there. I was surprised Barry Bonds wasn't, but he came up four short - probably because he was walked so often. That's really about it. The Tribe's Terry Francona will reach 1,500 wins, which only 24th other managers have done, but meh.
Mariners at Giants ( -145, 8 )
Interleague matchup at 4:35 p.m. ET on the MLB Network and San Francisco's home opener. The Mariners lose the DH, meaning Nelson Cruz would normally either take a seat or head to right field - AT&T Park is a very difficult outfield to play, so the M's might just save him as a pinch-hitter because Cruz stinks as a fielder. That's if Cruz is healthy enough to play at all. He sprained his ankle Saturday, which happened as he slipped on the dugout steps following a two-rom homer. The team is still awaiting word on an MRI. Seattle is without No. 1 catcher Mike Zunino as he's on the 10-day DL with an oblique injury. It's Marco Gonzales on the bump for the Mariners. The lefty was 1-1 with a 6.08 ERA last year in 11 appearances, one coming with the Cardinals. San Francisco's Hunter Pence is 2-for-3 off him with a double. The Giants' Ty Blach outdueled Clayton Kershaw on Opening Day, shutting out the Dodgers on three hits over five innings. He has never faced the Mariners, although Dee Gordon is 3-for-4 against him.
Key trends: The Giants are 8-3 in their past 11 interleague games vs. a lefty. The "over/under" has gone under in nine of Seattle's past 10 series openers. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Giants and under.
Red Sox at Marlins (+220, +7.5)
Miami was invaded by Cubs fans all weekend and should be by Red Sox fans early this week. Boston loses the DH for this interleague game, so J.D. Martinez has to either head to the outfield - which seems questionable considering how strong the Red Sox are out there - or the bench. The Boston bullpen cost Chris Sale a victory on Opening Day as he allowed one hit, no runs and struck out nine against the Rays but took a no-decision. Sale has pitched just once in Miami in his career, giving up eight hits and five runs over 6 2/3 innings in a loss in 2016. Starlin Castro is 5-for-19 against him with eight strikeouts. Miami's Jose Urena lost on Opening Day to the Cubs, lasting just four innings and surrendering five runs while walking four. It's his first career look at the Red Sox.
Key trends: The Sox are 5-1 in Sale's past seven on Tuesday. The Fish are 1-4 in Urena's past five at home. The over is 7-0 in Sale's previous seven starts.
Early lean: Red Sox on runline and over.
Orioles at Astros (-250, 9)
Last Thursday at the Texas Rangers, Houston's Justin Verlander became the 18th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to start 10 season openers. CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez are the only other active pitchers who have. Of course, it was Verlander's first with the Astros as he was acquired late last August. Verlander beat Texas, shutting out the Rangers on four hits over six innings. In his lone 2017 start vs. Baltimore, Verlander allowed two runs over seven innings in a victory. Adam Jones is 11-for-44 career off him with three homers and 10 strikeouts. Baltimore is without DH Mark Trumbo as he began the year on the DL with a quad injury. This normally would be ace Dylan Bundy's turn in the rotation, but the Orioles want to monitor his workload as much as possible and he will go Wednesday instead. So, it's Mike Wright making his season debut. All 13 appearances last season were in relief and Wright didn't have a decision with a 5.76 ERA. Evan Gattis is 2-for-3 with a homer off him.
Key trends: The Astros are 7-1 in their past eight in Game 2 of a series. The under is 1-7 in Baltimore's past 21 in Game 2 of a series.
Early lean: Astros on runline and over.
Nationals at Braves (+115, 9)
If there's one weak spot on the Nationals, it's the fifth starter. That's why the team was so often tied to free agent Jake Arrieta and might eventually have to make a trade at some point this season. Then again, if the Nats are running away with the NL East, the need for a good fifth starter isn't great because you won't use him in the postseason. Said fifth starter A.J. Cole gets the call here. In very limited action his first two seasons, Cole had an ERA north of 5.00. He was better in 52 innings last year, going 3-5 with a 3.81 ERA. Cole allowed three runs in two innings of work against the Braves. Freddie Freeman is 2-for-3 off him with a double. Atlanta's Julio Teheran wasn't overly sharp on Opening Day, allowing four runs and walking three in 5.2 innings in a no-decision vs. the Phillies. For some reason, he has been terrible in the Braves' new ballpark and very good on the road since the start of 2017. Bryce Harper murders him, going 17-for-37 with seven homers and 17 RBIs
Key trends: Washington is 14-5 in its past 19 Tuesday games. The under is 7-0 in the Braves' past seven on Tuesday.
Early lean: Braves and over.
Indians at Angels (-120, 8)
ESPN game. I'm presuming Shohei Ohtani will be back in at DH; he's not expected to play that spot the day before or day after pitching - and he made his big-league pitching debut Sunday and threw six innings of three-run ball in a win in Oakland. At the plate, he's 1-for-5 with a strikeout. The Angels start ace Garrett Richards, a guy whom I though was good longer-shot value as a Cy Young candidate. He didn't look the part on Opening Day, allowing four runs and seven hits over five innings in a loss at Oakland. Richards is 1-0 with a 4.40 ERA in two previous starts against the Indians. Edwin Encarnacion is 5-for-12 career against him with two homers. Cleveland's Josh Tomlin makes his season debut. The right-hander was 10-9 with a 4.98 ERA last year but was 6-0 with a 3.11 ERA over his final 10 outings. New Angels third baseman Zack Cozart is 8-for-17 off Tomlin with a homer.
Key trends: The Indians are 1-4 in Tomlin's past five on Tuesday. The under is 8-3-5 in his previous 16 on the road.
Early lean: Angels and under.
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