Daily Expert MLB Picks: Wednesday, May 2, 2018, Opening Line Report
You have to hand it to the Arizona Diamondbacks. They are battling Boston for the best record in the majors, and Arizona has tied an MLB record by winning its first nine series in a season. It hadn't been done by any team since the 2001 Mariners, who won a record 116 games but failed to reach the World Series. The last NL team to do it? The 1907 Cubs, who did win it all. Amazing by the Snakes considering they lost slugging outfielder J.D. Martinez this offseason in free agency and are down two starting pitchers (Taijuan Walker and Shelby Miller) following Tommy John surgeries. Make that three pitchers. Robbie Ray, one of the NL's breakout stars in 2017, had to leave Sunday's start with a strained right oblique and has landed on the DL. That's obviously a big problem with a guy who throws a ball really hard for a living. Ray, 26, is 2-0 with a 4.88 ERA in six starts this season with 45 strikeouts in just 27⅔ innings. I wasn't sure the Diamondbacks would be able to hold off the Dodgers all season - but the Corey Seager news for L.A. might have changed my mind. More on that in Thursday's Opening Line Report.
Rangers at Indians ( -300, 8 )
This one at 1:10 p.m. ET on the MLB Network (some markets). The Rangers took a flier on lefty Matt Moore this offseason in a salary dump by the Giants, and so far not so good for Texas as Moore is 1-3 with a 5.33 ERA and 1.70 WHIP. Moore pitched an inning of relief in Sunday's loss to Toronto but it was basically the same thing as his throwing day in between starts and he should still be good to go Wednesday. Cleveland's Juan Encarnacion is 6-for-20 off Moore with a homer and nine walks. Tribe ace Corey Kluber (4-1, 2.18) is among the AL leaders in most categories. He was an out shy of a second complete game this season last time out, allowing three runs with 10 strikeouts over 8.2 innings. In a one-run game, he was taken out at 116 pitches after giving up a single to Kyle Seager. The Rangers' Nomar Mazara is 5-for-12 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Indians are 5-1 in Kluber's past six vs. Texas. The "over/under" is 4-1 in his previous five against the Rangers.
Early lean: Indians on runline and over.
Rockies at Cubs (-177, TBA)
A 2:20 p.m. ET start from the Friendly Confines and on the MLB Network in some markets. Good and bad news for the Rockies. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has been activated off the disabled list but second baseman DJ LeMahieu has gone on it with a right hamstring injury. Cubs boss Theo Epstein has made very few mistakes with the team, but one was trading LeMahieu to Colorado in December 2011 for Ian Stewart. LeMahieu is hitting .290 with five homers. The Rockies start Tyler Anderson (1-0, 4.10) here. The southpaw was pulled after just one inning Friday in Miami with dizziness and shortness of breath but cleared by team doctors afterward. Anderson beat the Cubs on April 21 (6 IP, 2 ER). Willson Contreras is 2-for-6 against him with two RBIs. Chicago's Yu Darvish (0-2, 5.26) comes off his best start as a Cub, allowing one unearned run and three hits over six vs. Milwaukee but obviously is still looking for that first win. Darvish lost in Denver on April 21 (4.2 IP, 5 ER). Gonzalez is 1-for-2 with a dinger off him.
Key trends: The Rockies are 2-5 in Anderson's past seven road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 4-1 in his previous five overall.
Early lean: Rockies on runline.
Padres at Giants (-138, 8)
It's a 3:45 start time from AT&T Park. San Diego has lost outfielder Wil Myers for at least two weeks with a left oblique strain. He already spent a few weeks on the DL with irritation in his throwing arm. Myers is hitting .300 with a homer and three RBIs in 40 at-bats. It's lefty sinkerballer Clayton Richard (1-3, 5.35) on the bump for the Friars. He lost to the Mets on Friday, allowing three runs over six. He took a no-decision on April 14 vs. the Giants (5 IP, 4 ER). Buster Posey is a career .375 hitter off him with two homers and nine RBIs in 32 at-bats. Andrew McCutchen is 5-for-11 with two homers. San Francisco lefty Derek Holland (0-3, 5.76) lost in San Diego on April 14 (4.2 IP, 3 ER). Eric Hosmer is 7-for-16 off him with a homer. Chase Headley 3-for-7 with a double.
Key trends: The Padres have lost their past eight on Wednesday. They are 6-2 in Richard's previous eight in San Francisco. The over is 7-2 in his past nine vs. the Giants overall.
Early lean: Giants and over.
Phillies at Marlins (+145, 8)
A 7:10 p.m. ET start from Marlins Park. Philadelphia has lost shortstop and former mega-prospect J.P. Crawford to the DL with a right forearm strain. The 23-year-old Crawford, in his first full season in the majors, was hitting just .188 on the season and had five errors, the most among National League shortstops. Rookie Scott Kingery will take his starting spot for now. The Phils go with young ace Aaron Nola (3-1, 2.58). He threw a fourth straight quality start last time out, surrendering three runs over seven. Somehow, he avoided the division rival Marlins last year and is 2-3 with a 4.57 ERA career in seven starts against them. JT Realmuto is 1-for-11 off him with an RBI. Miami has lost every start of Jose Urena (0-4, 4.91) this year but he deserved better Friday vs. Colorado in allowing one run over seven. He is 1-2 with a 5.34 ERA in 28.2 innings vs. the Phillies. Odubel Herrera is 4-for-8 off him with a double and triple.
Key trends: The Phillies are 1-4 in Nola's past five in Miami. The over is 3-0-1 in his previous four against the Marlins. The under is 3-1-1 in Urena's past five vs. the Phillies.
Early lean: Phillies and under.
Yankees at Astros (-122, 8)
ESPN prime-time game and the pitching matchup of the day. New York's Luis Severino (4-1, 2.61) allowed three runs over seven innings in a no-decision at the Angels on Friday. Last year in the ALCS, Severino faced Houston twice and New York would lose both games. He didn't make it through five innings in either. Carlos Correa is 3-for-4 off him with two doubles and three RBIs in the regular season. Yuli Gurriel is 4-for-5 with a double. Houston lefty Dallas Keuchel (1-4, 4.00) saw his ERA rise nearly a run thanks to allowing six runs over seven innings Friday vs. Oakland. He's the only Houston starter with a losing record. He beat the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS with seven shutout innings. New York beat him in Game 5 (4.2 IP, 4 ER). Aaron Hicks is 2-for-11 off Keuchel with a homer. Giancarlo Stanton is 1-for-5.
Key trends: The Astros are 6-2 in Keuchel's past eight vs. the Yankees. The under has hit in his past four against them. The under is 4-1 in Severino's past five vs. the AL West.
Early lean: Astros and under.
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