Daily Expert MLB Picks: Wednesday, June 6, 2018, Opening Line Report
I guess it's time to talk about the Seattle Mariners. I thought their playoff chances were probably dead in the water when star second baseman Robinson Cano was suspended 80 games for PED use. Yet, the team has taken off since then with Dee Gordon more than filling in capably for Cano at second. What has been really stunning of late is how good the rotation has been with Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake and Wade LeBlanc. Would you believe me if I told you that King Felix has the highest ERA of the group? Color me skeptical that this continues, but the bullpen has been and should stay great. Closer Edwin Diaz is nearly unhittable. The Mariners are 18-9 in one-run games in part due to Diaz and have 17 comeback victories on the year. Seattle hasn't made the playoffs since 2001, the longest drought in baseball. Houston's still going to win the AL West, but the M's could well earn a wild-card spot. That would hand the longest playoff drought to the Marlins, who haven't been there since winning the 2003 World Series. That franchise isn't playing postseason baseball anytime soon.
Diamondbacks at Giants ( -131, 8 )
Facebook Live game of the week at 3:45 p.m. ET. Long-time Red Sox Clay Buchholz (1-1, 1.50) has been a godsend for an injury-ravaged Diamondbacks rotation as he makes his fourth start of the season. He has allowed exactly one run in each of his first three and gone an inning longer in each. Buchholz went seven last time out vs. Miami but was a tough-luck loser. He hasn't faced the Giants in 2018 and only a few have seen him in their careers. Evan Longoria is 11-for-50 off him with 17 strikeouts. San Francisco's Chris Stratton (7-3, 4.50) shut out the Phillies on Friday, allowing four hits and striking out seven. He's on a four-start winning streak and also won at Arizona on April 18 (7 IP, 1 ER). Paul Goldschmidt is 3-for-9 off him with three Ks.
Key trends: The Diamondbacks have lost their past seven on Wednesday. The Giants are 10-1 in Stratton's past 11 at home. The "over/under" is 5-2 in his previous seven.
Early lean: Giants and over.
A's at Rangers (+120, 10)
Oakland might be good as early as next year if the A's can find a little more offense because they have some good-looking young pitching. One of those guys is 25-year-old righty Daniel Mengden (6-4, 2.91), who is among AL leaders in ERA and WHIP (0.97). He won a fourth start in a row Thursday, giving up three runs over eight vs. Tampa Bay. He actually was pitching a shutout through eight but was allowed out for the ninth and surrendered three straight hits before being pulled. All three guys would eventually score. Mengden lost at home to Texas on April 5 (5.1 IP, 3 ER). Adrian Beltre is 6-for-10 off him. Texas' Bartolo Colon (2-3, 4.21), who is old enough to be Mengden's father, was shelled for six runs and eight hits over three innings Friday at the Angels. He took a ND in Oakland on April 2 (6 IP, 1 ER).
Key trends: The A's are 6-1 in Mengden's past seven on the road. The over is 5-2-2 in his previous nine vs. the AL West.
Early lean: A's and over.
Phillies at Cubs (-130, TBA)
I know Cubs fans are disappointed that former ace and 2015 Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta isn't pitching in this series after all he did for the franchise. The Cubs appear, for now, to have made a mistake by choosing to sign Yu Darvish rather than re-sign Arrieta. The Phillies' ace isn't Arrieta, though, but Aaron Nola (7-2, 2.18). His .521 opponents' OPS and 2.18 ERA are two of the lowest marks in baseball. Nola has allowed more than one earned just once in his past six. He beat the Cubs in his lone start against them as a rookie in 2015 in his second career start. Addison Russell is 1-for-3 off him with a homer but probably sits out a few games with a finger injury suffered Sunday. Chicago lefty Jose Quintana (6-4, 4.30) dominates one time out and then doesn't last five innings the next time. He comes off six shutout innings at the Mets. Carlos Santana has plenty of history with Quintana but is just 8-for-43.
Key trends: The Phillies are 4-1 in Nola's past five vs. teams with a winning record. The Cubs are 10-3 in Quintana's past 13 at home. The under is 5-0 in Nola's past five on the road.
Early lean: Phillies.
Mariners at Astros (-191, 8)
It's LeBlanc (1-0, 2.60) on the mound for Seattle. He began the year in the bullpen but moved into the rotation last month and was 1-0 with a 1.72 ERA in six starts during May. Combined with his time in Seattle in 2016 (he was with Pirates last year), LeBlanc is 4-0 with a 3.32 ERA in 14 starts and the Mariners are 12-2 in those games. He has given up four runs and five hits over four innings in two relief stints vs. Houston in 2018. Jose Altuve is 4-for-6 off him. Evan Gattis is 4-for-7 with two homers. Houston's Lance McCullers Jr. (7-3, 3.89) beat the Red Sox on Thursday, allowing two runs and four hits over six. He dominated the Mariners on April 17 in Seattle (7 IP, 1 H, 11 Ks). Nelson Cruz is just 3-for-20 off him with 10 Ks. Kyle Seager 8-for-24 with a homer.
Key trends: The Astros are 4-1 in McCullers' past five vs. Seattle. The under his 7-1-1 in this previous nine vs. the M's. The under is 6-0 in LeBlanc's past six.
Early lean: Astros on runline and under.
Royals at Angels (-260, 8)
It's Shohei Ohtani on the mound for L.A., meaning the Royals won't have to worry about facing him as a designated hitter on Tuesday (or Wednesday obviously). Ohtani (4-1, 3.18) lasted five innings last Wednesday in Detroit, giving up one run and three hits. It's the right-hander's first career look vs. Kansas City. The Royals' Ian Kennedy (1-6, 6.08) won his second start of the season, but it has been tough sledding since. He was rocked for eight runs, three homers, over three innings in a home loss to Oakland in his last outing. Kennedy did pitch well in a loss to the Angels on April 12 (6 IP, 1 ER). Ian Kinsler is 8-for-23 off him with two homers. Albert Pujols has three dingers in 21 at-bats. Mike Trout is 2-for-12.
Key trends: The Royals are 2-6 in Kennedy's past eight on the road vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 8-2 in his past 10 on the road.
Early lean: Angels and over.
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