Daily Expert MLB Picks: Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, Opening Line Report
Maybe the Seattle Mariners won't end the longest playoff drought in the majors after all. Things seem to be colluding against Seattle in recent weeks. The latest is ace James Paxton landing on the disabled list with a left forearm contusion. If he was a right-handed pitcher that might not matter, but the "Big Maple" is a lefty. Paxton was lucky it wasn't worse as it looked bad when he took a Jed Lowrie line drive off that arm on Tuesday. The Mariners are treading water as it is, while the A's are rampaging and pulling further and further ahead in the chase for the AL's second wild-card spot. Maybe Paxton misses only one start, but go back and look at recent final MLB standings and see how many wild-card spots were decided by just one game. Felix Hernandez pitched in relief for the first time in his career when Paxton went out and should take his rotation spot for now.
Mets at Phillies ( -132, 7 )
MLB Network game at 6:05 p.m. ET. Both teams likely will want their starters to go deep after the clubs played a doubleheader Thursday, no doubt using plenty of relievers. Excellent pitching matchup here between potential future Cy Young winners. Philadelphia's Aaron Nola (13-3, 2.28) will certainly finish Top 5 (maybe higher) in the Cy Young voting this year as long as he doesn't tail way off the rest of the way. He shut out the Padres on four hits over six last time out. That snapped a four-start winless streak, but those really hadn't been his fault. He's 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three starts this year vs. the Mets. New York's Noah Syndergaard (8-2, 3.22) has won four of his past five, and his strikeouts are trending up as he gets more comfortable since returning from the DL. "Thor" allowed two runs in four innings on April 4 in his only 2018 start vs. the Phillies.
Key trends: The Mets are 5-2 in Syndergaard's past seven vs. the Phillies. The "over/under" has gone under in nine of his past 15 overall. The under is 7-1 in the past eight meetings.
Early lean: Phillies and under.
Blue Jays at Yankees (-172, 9)
Toronto outfielder Curtis Granderson has cleared waivers, meaning he can be traded to any team. I expect he will be simply as bench help. He's also considered a great clubhouse guy. The Yankees have been rumored as bringing him back with Aaron Judge out. The Jays' Marcus Stroman (4-8, 5.03) was crushed Aug. 1 in Oakland but has allowed just one earned over 12 innings since in two starts. He's 0-1 with an 8.71 ERA in two starts this year against New York. Yanks rookie Miguel Andujar is 2-for-5 with three RBIs off him. The Bombers have won both of Lance Lynn's starts since coming over from the Twins. Lynn (8-8, 4.46) allowed one run over five with eight strikeouts Saturday vs. Texas. Jays DH Kendrys Morales is 3-for-4 off him with two homers.
Key trends: The Jays are 1-6 in the past seven meetings. The under is 5-1 in the previous six.
Early lean: Jays on runline and under.
Orioles at Indians (-375, 9)
It's a good thing the Indians are running away with the AL Central title because they are going to be without Cy Young candidate - no not Corey Kluber - Trevor Bauer for a while. He has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right fibula from a comebacker. That sounds actually worse than it is, but Bauer, among AL leaders in just about every major category, could miss at least two starts. Adam Plutko is expected to take his place in the rotation. It's Carlos Carrasco (14-6, 3.50) here for the Tribe. He allowed an unearned run over seven innings with nine strikeouts Sunday against the White Sox. Carrasco is working on five straight quality starts. Adam Jones has seen him the most of any Oriole, going 3-for-15 with a homer. Baltimore's David Hess (2-6, 6.25) allowed three runs over 5.2 in his last outing Aug. 9 at Tampa Bay. The rookie hasn't faced Cleveland.
Key trends: The Orioles are 6-20 in their past 26 after an off day. The Indians are 10-2 in Carrasco's past 12 home starts vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 6-2 in his previous eight.
Early lean: Indians on alternate runline (2.5) and over.
Astros at A's (+122, 8)
I'm no longer presuming the Astros will win the AL West because they are in free-fall and Oakland is now right there. Once Houston gets healthy, it should win the division, but you may want to jump on those A's futures odds now while they are still relatively long. The Astros start Charlie Morton (12-3, 2.88). He allowed three runs over six on Saturday in a home loss to Seattle. Morton hasn't been getting much run support since the start of July. He took a ND vs. Oakland on July 12 (4.1 IP, 3 ER). Khris Davis is 3-for-12 with two homers against him. The A's have gotten miracle work from retread Edwin Jackson (4-2, 2.48), whom I think was working in a bowling alley back in early June. Jackson has won his past three, allowing nary an earned run. EDWIN JACKSON! Maybe the A's are a team of destiny. EJ hasn't faced Houston this year.
Key trends: The Astros are 16-5 in their past 21 in Oakland. The under is 7-1 in the Athletics' previous eight at home. It's 14-3-2 in Houston's past 19 on the road.
Early lean: A's and under.
Dodgers at Mariners (+120, 8)
The Dodgers might get some good news next week with the return of closer Kenley Jansen, and boy do they need him as their bullpen has been terrible all month and has completely imploded the past week without him. L.A. rookie Walker Buehler (5-4, 3.32) deserved a win last time out as he threw seven shutout innings in Colorado and left with a 2-0 lead. Alas, the bullpen allowed a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth as L.A. lost. It's Buehler's first look at Seattle. Mariners lefty Wade LeBlanc (7-2, 3.80) allowed two runs over five Saturday in Houston in a victory. He is 1-7, 4.18 ERA in 11 career games vs. the Dodgers, who add the DH. Matt Kemp has a homer and five Ks off him in 20 at-bats.
Key trends: The Mariners are an incredible 15-1 in LeBlanc's past 16 at home. The under is 7-2-1 in his previous 10 there.
Early lean: Mariners and under.
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