Daily Expert MLB Picks: Wednesday, May 9, 2018, Opening Line Report
The San Francisco Giants haven't gotten much positive injury news this season, but this qualifies as some: Johnny Cueto will "only" miss 6-8 weeks with some elbow troubles. That's great news, actually, because Cueto went to see Dr. James Andrews, and that often means Tommy John surgery and more like 12-16 months on the sideline. Andrews told Cueto that he didn't have a torn ligament in the elbow and that rest should solve the problem. It should also be noted that Tommy John is still on the table if rest doesn't work. Cueto had a major league-best 0.84 ERA when he was placed on the 10-day disabled list last week. I tend to think the Giants will be buried in the standings in two months, so Cueto not pitching again in 2018 wouldn't be a shock. There's talk San Francisco might trade for Matt Harvey to fill Cueto's spot.
Astros at A's ( +153, 8.5 )
A 3:35 p.m. ET matinee on the MLB Network. All eyes will be on Gerrit Cole (3-1, 1.42) here as he's an early candidate for the AL Cy Young. Are you familiar with the pitching statistic called Game Score? Long story short, 50 is average and 100 is incredibly rare. In fact, it has only happened 14 times - the highest game score ever was Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout one hitter in May 1998 vs. the Astros (I watched that entire game). Cole had a Game Score of 100 last time out in throwing the first complete-game shutout of his career, allowing just one hit and striking out a career-high 16 against Arizona. It was his fifth double-digit strikeout game of the season; he had six such career games in all those seasons with the Pirates. Cole's worst start of the year was a no-decision on April 29 vs. Oakland (6.2 IP, 3 ER, 12 Ks). Still pretty darn good. Oakland's Daniel Mengden (2-3, 4.30) has impressively walked just five batters in 37.2 innings this season. He was roughed up a bit, though, on April 28 in Houston (2.1 IP, 5 R). Jose Altuve is 7-for-14 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Astros are 6-1 in Cole's past seven. The A's are 2-11 in Mengden's previous 13 vs. the AL West. They are 1-4 in his past five vs. Houston. The "over/under" is 4-1 in Mengden's previous five in the series.
Early lean: Astros on runline and under.
Tigers at Rangers (-120, 9.5)
Its two overachieving veterans from the Dominican Republic on the bump here in a matinee (2:05 p.m. ET). Detroit lefty Francisco Liriano (3-1, 2.97) comes off his best start of the year, allowing one run and three hits over seven in Kansas City but took a no-decision. Last year, Liriano had an 8.22 ERA in 7.2 innings (one start, three relief appearances) vs. Texas. Shin-Soo Choo is 7-for-32 off him with 10 strikeouts. The Rangers' Bartolo Colon (1-1, 3.29) might be regressing to expectations a bit as he allowed four runs in a loss to Boston in his last outing. His last start against the Tigers was late last year, and he allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings to get the win. Miguel Cabrera is 8-for-16 off him but hasn't homered.
Key trends: The Rangers are 2-8 in their past 10 vs. a lefty. The under is 6-0 in Detroit's past six road games vs. a righty.
Early lean: Tigers and under.
Red Sox at Yankees (-166, 9)
ESPN game. I get tired of all the ESPN hype any time these two play, but it should be fun watching them duel atop the AL East all summer. Baseball is more interesting when both are World Series contenders. It's lefty David Price (2-4, 5.11) for Boston. He has lost three straight starts, allowing 19 runs combined. Price is 1-4 with an 8.22 ERA in his last five starts after opening the season with 14 scoreless innings. He lasted just an inning on April 11 vs. the Yankees, leaving with numbness in his hand. Gary Sanchez kills him, going 6-for-12 with five homers and 11 RBIs. New York's Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.39) threw his third straight quality start last time out but took a no-decision in Houston. He was shelled for six runs in five innings on April 11 in Boston but won. J.D. Martinez kills him, going 7-for-12 with three homers and seven RBIs.
Key trends: The Sox are 2-5 in Price's past seven vs. New York. The over is 4-1 in his previous five against the Yankees. The over is 5-0 in Tanaka's past five overall.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Nationals at Padres (+110, 7.5)
Washington southpaw Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 2.33) has allowed just one run and eight hits in 12 combined innings his past two starts. Depending on which pitchers choose to not opt out of their contracts this winter (David Price, Clayton Kershaw), Gonzalez could be the top target out there if he keeps pitching like this after a career-low 2.89 ERA last year. New Padre Eric Hosmer is 5-for-7 against him with two homers. Padres rookie lefty Joey Lucchesi (3-2, 3.13) has some control issues at times and has thus been able to complete six innings twice in seven outings. Lucchesi has 40 strikeouts and 13 walks in 37 1/3 innings this season, with five homers allowed. It's his first look at Washington.
Key trends: The Nats are 11-5 in Gonzalez's past 16 road starts. The under is 5-1 in his past six overall.
Early lean: Nationals and under.
Diamondbacks at Dodgers (-115, 7)
MLB Network late game. The Dodgers expect to activate outfielder Yasiel Puig off the 10-day DL for this game. He had a left hip pointer and bruised foot. Like most Dodgers this season, Puig has disappointed with a.193 average and as many homers in 88 at-bats as I have. He's 7-for-23 with two doubles and a homer career off Arizona starting pitcher and lefty Patrick Corbin (4-0, 2.15). Corbin has been great vs. the Dodgers this year in two starts, surrendering one run and four hits over 13.1 innings with 17 strikeouts. Matt Kemp also has had success against him with a .300 average in 20 at-bats. L.A. lefty Alex Wood (0-3, 3.83) left his start last Thursday vs. the Snakes after five innings because of a hamstring cramp but has been cleared. He's 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA in two starts this year vs. Arizona. Paul Goldschmidt is 6-for-25 against Wood with three homers. AJ Pollock is 9-for-21 with two dingers.
Key trends: The Snakes are 1-6 in Corbin's past seven vs. L.A. The under is 3-0-1 in Wood's previous four against Arizona.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
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