Daily Expert MLB Picks: Wednesday, May 30, 2018, Opening Line Report
The 1994 season was one of the darkest times in baseball history because the players' strike wiped out about the final 30 percent of the regular season and all of the playoffs. In a way, though, that might have helped MLB avoid something embarrassing: a losing team winning its division. When the players struck, the Texas Rangers led the then four-team AL West by a game at 52-62. That has been called perhaps the worst division in modern MLB history. If you are wondering, the biggest win discrepancy between a division champion and a non-playoff team in the wild-card era came in 2005, when the San Diego Padres won the NL West with an 82-80 record and the Phillies went 88-74. We could see a bigger discrepancy this year, though, because the AL Central is wretched and it's quite possible a team with a losing record wins that, although I still expect underachieving Cleveland to win 88 games or so. This year's Central could be worse than the 1994 AL West as Central teams entered this week with a .355 winning percentage out of the division while the West had a combined .417 outside the division in '94.
White Sox at Indians ( -288, 8 )
A 1:10 p.m. ET first pitch on the MLB Network. The Sox have lost designated hitter/1B/3B Matt Davidson to the disabled list with back spasms. He leads the team with 11 homers but also has struck out 55 times in 140 at-bats. One less worry for Indians ace Corey Kluber (7-2, 2.17). He shut out the Astros over 6.1 innings last time out but took a no-decision in game Houston still managed to score 11 times against the Cleveland bullpen. It's Kluber's first look at the White Sox this season. Jose Abreu hits him well, going 16-for-45 with five homers and 12 RBIs. Chicago's Reynaldo Lopez (1-3, 2.93) has been terrific in his past two, allowing just two earned over 15 innings. Batters are hitting .205 against him. Lopez hasn't faced the Tribe in 2018. Francisco Lindor is 0-for-3.
Key trends: The Indians are 6-1 in Kluber's past seven vs. Chicago. The "over/under" has gone under in nine of his past 12 against the Sox.
Early lean: Indians on runline and under.
Cardinals at Brewers (-106, 9)
Also at 1:10 p.m. ET and the Facebook Live game of this week. It's a potentially big day for the Cardinals as highly-touted pitching prospect Alex Reyes will make his return from Tommy John surgery. He had that following a 2016 season in which he pitched 12 times at the big-league level and was fantastic with a 1.57 ERA. He will certainly be on pitch count/inning restrictions probably all season. Reyes dominated in four rehab starts with 23 scoreless innings in the minors. The Brewers go with Junior Guerra (3-3, 2.98). He has allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his nine starts. His season debut was a win in St. Louis (5.1 IP, 1 ER). Matt Carpenter is 4-for-8 off him with two doubles. Marcell Ozuna 2-for-5 with a homer.
Key trends: The Brewers are 2-6 in Guerra's past eight vs. the NL Central. The under is 9-2 in his previous 11 at home vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
Astros at Yankees (+157, 8)
ESPN game. Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel (3-6, 3.39) took a no-decision last time out vs. Cleveland in allowing two runs over six. He lost to the Yankees on May 2 (7 IP, 3 ER). New York's Giancarlo Stanton is 3-for-8 off Keuchel with two homers. Gary Sanchez 0-for-6 with three strikeouts. The Yankees' Luis Severino (7-1, 2.28) is in the Cy Young conversation. He threw an eighth straight quality start Friday against the Angels, and the Yankees have won them all. He threw a complete-game shutout May 2 in Houston with 10 strikeouts and five hits allowed. Carlos Correa is 3-for-8 off him with two doubles. Marwin Gonzalez 2-for-7 with a homer.
Key trends: The Astros are 4-1 in Keuchel's past five in New York. The under has hit in his past five against the Yanks.
Early lean: Astros on runline and under.
Angels at Tigers (TBA)
Let me preface this by saying that the weather doesn't look too promising in Detroit on Wednesday night regarding thunderstorms, but Shohei Ohtani is set to start if the game is played. Ohtani (4-1, 3.35) was originally lined up for Sunday at the Yankees, but the Halos bumped him back for "workload" reasons. He will thus be on nine days of rest here. Ohtani has a 2.25 ERA over his past three starts with 26 strikeouts. It's his first look at Detroit. The Tigers go with veteran right-hander Mike Fiers (4-3, 4.78), whom the team would likely like to flip ahead of the July 31 trade deadline if Fiers would even bring much back. He's no more than a six-inning pitcher at best now. Zack Cozart is 5-for-12 off him with four extra-base hits. Mike Trout 5-for-15 with a homer and six strikeouts.
Key trends: The Angels are 1-4 in their past three in Game 3 of a series. The under is 6-2-1 in their past nine road games. The over is 4-0-1 in Fiers' past five.
Early lean: Ohtani should be made official later today and Angels will be favored. Take them.
Rays at A's (-168, 8)
Tampa Bay will start Nathan Eovaldi, who used to be one of the hardest throwers in the sport but still never really put it all together. He hasn't pitched in the majors due to Tommy John elbow surgery since going 9-8 with a 4.76 ERA in 124.2 innings with the Yankees in 2016. The Rays signed him as a free agent on Feb. 14, 2017, in part to the organization's reputation in handling pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery. Eovaldi would become the fourth guy in Rays history to return to the majors following two Tommy John surgeries. Oakland lefty Sean Manaea (5-5, 3.34) was roughed up for six runs in just 3.2 innings last time out in a loss to Arizona as his post-no-hitter struggles continued.
Key trends: The A's are 8-2 in their past 10 vs. a right-hander. The under is 8-0 in their past eight at home against one.
Early lean: A's and over.
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