Daily Expert MLB Picks: Wednesday, May 23, 2018, Opening Line Report
Have you been paying attention to what has been happening with the Tampa Bay Rays of late? You are forgiven if not because the Rays are probably the most anonymous team in the majors after trading Evan Longoria this past offseason. Seriously, name me five Rays players? Over the weekend, Manager Kevin Cash started reliever Sergio Romo in back-to-back games against the Angels. Cash is one of those new-age managers who doesn't really want his starters going through a lineup three times in a game. So he threw Romo out there for one inning on Saturday (he struck out the side) and 1.1 innings on Sunday (three strikeouts) to get through the top of the order against the right-handed heavy Halos. Romo became the first pitcher since Steve McCatty of the A's in 1980 to start on consecutive days after pitching at least one inning the first day. It's an interesting strategy because it's very important in MLB to score first; teams that do are winning more than 70 percent of the time this year. The Rays did score first (top of the second inning) in Saturday's victory and also did Sunday (top of the third) but lost 5-2. Baseball is a copycat league, so if this keeps working then expect to see at least a few other managers try something similar.
Giants at Astros ( -240, 7.5 )
San Francisco adds the DH for this interleague matchup. The Giants will need all the hitting help they can get against Astros ace Justin Verlander (5-2, 1.05). He leads the AL in ERA and WHIP (0.71) and is second in innings (68.2) and third in strikeouts (84). Some sportsbook needs to do a prop on the AL Cy Young this year: An Astros pitcher (Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole are right there too) or the field. Verlander comes off a complete-game five-hitter against the Angels. It was his first shutout since Aug. 26, 2015, with the Tigers. He hasn't seen the Giants in a regular-season game in 10 years. Longoria has seen him plenty, going 9-for-34 with a homer and eight strikeouts. The Giants' Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 6.30) had his first quality start of the season Thursday vs. the Rockies, going 6.2 and allowing three runs. He has a 6-3 record and 3.51 ERA in 22 career appearances, most in relief, vs. Houston. Jose Altuve is 7-for-25 off him.
Key trends: The Giants are 1-6 in Samardzija's past seven road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Astros are 7-3 in Verlander's past 10 at home. The "over/under" has gone under in Verlander's past five.
Early lean: Astros on runline and under.
Yankees at Rangers (+165, 10)
The red-hot Yankees have overtaken the Astros as the World Series betting favorites at sites like Bovada . New York hasn't lost a series since April 10-12 at Boston. It's lefty CC Sabathia (2-1, 2.40) here. He has been a little off the past two outings, allowing four runs in each and lasting only a total of nine innings. Sabathia had gone 15 straight regular-season starts without a loss before falling on Friday in Kansas City. The Rangers' Shin-Soo Choo is 6-for-21 off him with a homer. Texas' Doug Fister (1-4, 3.43) hasn't won since March 30. He deserved to Thursday at the White Sox, shutting them out on six hits over seven innings in a no decision. New York's Giancarlo Stanton is 2-for-3 against him. No Yankees has homered off Fister.
Key trends: The Yankees are 0-4 in Sabathia's past four vs. Texas. The over is 8-1-1 in his past 10 vs. the Rangers.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Braves at Phillies (-148, 8.5)
One wonders how focused Luiz Gohara (0-0, 1.29) will be here. One of Atlanta's top prospects, Gohara makes his 2018 starting debut (he started five times last year) after pitching well in three relief appearances. However, Gohara plans to leave the team for about a week after Wednesday's start because apparently his mother is not in good health. He did make a start vs. the Phillies in 2017, allowing one run and five hits over seven in a tough-luck loss. Philadelphia's Jake Arrieta (3-2, 2.82) wasn't sharp Friday in St. Louis, lasting a season-low three innings and surrendering four runs. A long rain delay to start the game might have thrown him off. Atlanta's Freddie Freeman is 2-for-11 off him with four strikeouts.
Key trends: The Braves are 1-4 in Gohara's past five starts. The Phillies are 0-4 in Arrieta's past four. The over is 6-1-1 in Arrieta's past eight.
Early lean: Braves on runline and under.
Red Sox at Rays (+122, 7)
ESPN+ game. One starting pitcher whom Cash won't mess with is ace Chris Archer (3-3, 5.01), although Archer has been very hit or miss in 2018. He comes off his best start, shutting out the Angels on two hits over 6.2 innings; Archer did walk a season-high four. His season debut was a no decision vs. Boston (6 IP, 4 ER). Archer is 2-12 in his career against the Red Sox. Mookie Betts is 12-for-34 against him with four homers and 10 RBIs. Andrew Benintendi hits .385 against Archer and Xander Bogaerts .333. Red Sox lefty and former Rays ace David Price (4-4, 4.38) threw a complete game Thursday vs. the Orioles, allowing two runs. He's 1-1 with a 2.29 ERA in three starts this year vs. his former club. About the only Tampa Bay player who hits well vs. Price is Wilson Ramos (4-for-11, HR).
Key trends: The Rays are 4-11 in Archer's past 15 vs. the Red Sox. The over is 5-2 in his previous seven at home against them.
Early lean: Red Sox and over.
Orioles at White Sox (+115, 9.5)
If any game screams a bet for over the total on Wednesday (Colorado isn't at home), it's this one between to less-than-stellar pitchers. Alex Cobb (1-5, 6.56) has been a huge free-agent bust thus far for the Orioles. He does come off his first win in a Baltimore uniform, though, allowing three runs and 10 hits (fourth start already allowing 10 hits) over 6.1 innings in Boston. Cobb is 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in two career starts against the White Sox. Tim Anderson is 2-for-2 off him with a double. Chicago's Dylan Covey (0-1, 6.00) hasn't pitched in the majors since April 28 in Kansas City where he allowed four runs over six innings in a loss. He has been recalled from Triple-A to take struggling Carson Fulmer's rotation spot. Manny Machado is 2-for-3 with a homer off Covey.
Key trends: The Orioles are 1-6 in Cobb's past seven and the Sox are 1-6 in Covey's past seven. The over is 5-2 in Cobb's previous seven.
Early lean: Orioles and over.
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