Daily Expert MLB Picks: Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, Opening Line Report
Expect a lot of "Come to Chicago" signs this weekend at Wrigley Field or some iteration of such as it's the Washington Nationals' first and only visit of the season to the North Side - although the teams could meet in the playoffs again - and thus the last time Bryce Harper will play at Wrigley most likely in a Nationals uniform. There are some whispers around MLB that Harper wants to go play for the Cubs because he's great buddies with his fellow superstar and Las Vegas native Kris Bryant. Shoot, Harper even has a dog named Wrigley. I'm not sure how interested the Cubs might actually be since they are going to have to start ponying up for guys like Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo soon, but the team is negotiating a new TV deal/considering starting its own network, and adding Harper surely would increase the club's visibility even more. It used to be thought Harper wanted to play for the Yankees, but they likely are out of the chase for him after adding Giancarlo Stanton this past offseason.
Nationals at Cubs ( -145, TBA )
Per usual on a Friday Cubs home game, it's a 2:20 p.m. ET MLB Network game. Last time these teams played at Wrigley, Stephen Strasburg was magnificent despite an illness in Game 4 of the 2017 NLDS, forcing a Game 5 back in D.C. The Cubs won that thanks in large part to a crazy fifth inning that will live in infamy for Washington fans. It's Jeremy Hellickson (5-2, 3.56) for the Nationals. He beat the Reds last time out, allowing two runs over 5.2 innings. Washington will need its bullpen here because Hellickson has gone six full innings just twice all year. No active Cub has more than three at-bats against him. Chicago probably will need its bullpen plenty as well because Kyle Hendricks (8-9, 4.07) often fails to reach six full innings. He didn't last time out, allowing four runs over 5.2 against the Padres but got the win. Adam Eaton has two homers in seven at-bats against him.
Key trends: The Cubs are 5-2 in Hendricks' past seven vs. Washington. The "over/under" has gone under in four of his previous five against the Nats.
Early lean: Nats on runline.
Red Sox at Orioles (+162, 9)
Red Sox boss Dave Dombrowski is looking like a genius right now because of his trade deadline pickup of Nathan Eovaldi from Tampa Bay for very little. Eovaldi (5-4, 3.34) has thrown 15 scoreless innings with just seven hits allowed and one walk in his two Boston starts. He's the first Boston starter since someone named Vaughn Eshelman in 1995 to have consecutive scoreless starts to begin his Red Sox career. Eovaldi has always thrown hard, but now he's hitting his spots at varying speeds and using more of a cut fastball. He hasn't faced Baltimore this year. Mark Trumbo is 5-for-8 off him. The Orioles' Dylan Bundy (7-10, 4.38) has thrown back-to-back quality starts. He has a 2.38 ERA in three starts this year vs. Boston. Andrew Benintendi is a .348 hitter off him in 23 at-bats.
Key trends: The Orioles are 1-5 in Bundy's past six at home vs. Boston. The under is 7-1-2 in his previous 10 overall against the Red Sox.
Early lean: Orioles on runline and under.
Brewers at Braves (-115, 8.5)
MLB Network 7:35 p.m. ET game. Possible Wild-Card Game preview? Could be. Then again, both could win their respective divisions or miss the playoffs altogether. The NL is so much more interesting than the AL in terms of the potential playoff teams. Milwaukee's Freddy Peralta (5-2, 3.54) beat the Rockies in his last outing, allowing two runs and two hits over six. He beat Atlanta on July 6 (6 IP, 1 ER). The Braves' Kevin Gausman (5-9, 4.47) made his Atlanta debut Saturday following a trade from Baltimore and lost at the Mets, surrendering three runs over five. On the bright side, he didn't allow a home run for the first time in his last seven outings. Only a couple of Brewers have seen the career American Leaguer.
Key trends: The Brewers are 8-17 in their past 25 in Atlanta. The under is 6-0-2 in the previous eight there.
Early lean: Braves and under.
Diamondbacks at Reds (+110, 9.5)
Will Cincinnati have star Joey Votto back in the lineup Friday? He aggravated a knee injury Monday and hasn't played since. The Cincy media is reporting that it's expected Votto will return for this series opener. He will be facing Arizona's Clay Buchholz (5-1, 2.68), who appears to have salvaged his career. The Snakes have won his past four, and Buchholz hasn't allowed more than three earned in any of them. Votto is 1-for-3 career off him. Cincinnati's Anthony DeSclafani (5-3, 4.98) comes off perhaps his best start of the year, allowing one run over seven in winning at the Nationals. Paul Goldschmidt is 6-for-8 career off him with two doubles and a homer.
Key trends: The Reds are 11-5 in DeSclafani's past 16 series openers. The over is 7-2 in his past nine overall.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and over.
A's at Angels (TBA)
The only time I've seen TBA odds for an MLB game the day before was if a club was undecided on a starting pitcher. However, Mike Trout is so freaking good that the Angels haven't had opening lines this week because he has been day-to-day but hasn't played with a wrist injury. The team doesn't want to DL him because, let's face it, why go to an Angels game if you are a fan right now if Trout isn't playing? Perhaps he returns here, but the TBA is why. I'm sure Oakland lefty Brett Anderson (2-3, 4.64) prefers not. He comes off his best start of the year by far, seven shutout innings vs. Detroit. Trout is 1-for-5 with a double off him. The Angels' Felix Pena (1-3, 4.97) lost in Cleveland on Saturday, allowing two runs over 5.1 innings. He's in the rotation out of necessity. No Oakland batter has more than one at-bat off him.
Key trends: The A's are 4-1 in Anderson's past five on the road. They are 2-5 in his past five against the Halos. The over is 3-1-1 in his previous five against them.
Early lean: A's on runline if no Trout. Just on moneyline if he plays.
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