Daily Expert MLB Picks: Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, Opening Line Report
Friday is the last big day of the MLB regular season in that it's the final day a player can be acquired and still be eligible for the postseason - he must be on a 40-man roster by 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday. We've already seen a few waiver deals; the Cubs freaking stole Daniel Murphy from the Nationals and haven't looked back. There's a very real possibility that two former league MVPs are on the move by Friday: Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson and Giants outfielder Andrew McCutchen. Neither Toronto nor San Francisco is going anywhere, and both players are free agents after the season. Both come with major warts, though. Donaldson hasn't played in a big-league game since May due to a strained calf and wasn't very good when healthy. He is on a rehab assignment, though. McCutchen is nowhere close to what he was in his MVP heyday with Pittsburgh and is such a lousy outfielder now that only AL teams might have interest so he can DH sometimes. This will be my last Opening Line Report of the 2018 season with football taking center stage. Hopefully, it brought you some worthwhile knowledge. See you next March!
Tigers at Yankees ( -360, 8.5 )
Detroit would give away starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (6-6, 4.38), and he can be traded anywhere after clearing waivers, but no one will touch that contract. He was an excellent pitcher from 2011-2015 with Washington but been injury-prone and lousy since with the Tigers. Funny how that happens when guys get a huge guaranteed deal. Detroit likely will have to put shortstop Jose Iglesias on the DL after he left Wednesday with an abdominal strain. Zimmermann is 3-1 with a 3.09 ERA career against the Yankees. Giancarlo Stanton has seen him the most, going 7-for-32 with three homers. New York's Luis Severino (17-6, 3.27) still doesn't look quite right as he has gone 5.2 or less in three straight - but won the past two. He won in Detroit on June 4 (8 IP, 1 ER, 10Ks).
Key trends: The Yankees are 9-2 in Severino's past 11 at home vs. teams with a losing record. The "over/under" is 8-2 in his past 10 overall.
Early lean: Yankees on runline and over.
Cubs at Phillies (-101, 8.5)
Only national TV game of the night on the MLB Network. If the Cubs didn't activate Kris Bryant for Thursday's makeup game in Atlanta then they should here. Chicago goes with lefty Jose Quintana (11-9, 4.33), who ended a three-start winless streak Saturday in allowing two runs over five vs. Cincinnati. He still is having trouble going deep in games. Quintana took a ND vs. the Phillies on June 6 (5.2 IP, 2 ER, 10 Ks). Philadelphia's Nick Pivetta (7-10, 4.76) is on a three-start winless streak and has been shelled his past two. He lost at the Cubs on June 7 (5 IP, 4 ER). Anthony Rizzo is 2-for-4 with a homer off him. Murphy 4-for-7 with a double.
Key trends: The Phillies have lost seven straight series openers. The over is 4-1 in Quintana's past five vs. the NL East. It's 6-2 in Pivetta's past eight at home.
Early lean: Phillies and over.
Rays at Indians (-220, 8)
Cleveland just can't get/keep its pitching staff healthy as lefty Andrew Miller has landed back on the DL with an external impingement in his left shoulder. Not sure what that is, but it's Miller's third trip there. Good thing the Indians have a mammoth lead in the AL Central with all their problems. They may not need the bullpen Friday with ace Corey Kluber (16-7, 2.91) on the mound. Cleveland had won five straight of his starts, but that ended Saturday as Kluber was a monster favorite in Kansas City but allowed five runs over 5.1 innings. Letdown game? He hasn't faced Tampa this year. The Rays go with Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 3.80). He has been solid in five starts since coming over from Pittsburgh. The 25-year-old has never faced the Tribe.
Key trends: The Indians are 5-2 in Kluber's past seven vs. the Rays, and the under has hit in five of his past six against them.
Early lean: Rays on runline and under.
Reds at Cardinals (-210, 8.5)
OK, my editor says not to use the word "lock." Whatever other word you can think of in the same ballpark, it applies to betting against the Reds here. Why? They are 1-17 in Homer Bailey's 18 starts, and he has cost bettors around $1,550 had they wagered $100 on the Reds to win each of those. That's the worst mark this century according to any database I can find. Those 17 losses are the most through 18 starts of any pitcher's season in the live-ball era, and Bailey (1-12, 6.17) hasn't even left a game with the lead since mid-September of last year. Those numbers are freaking impossible. Bailey is 0-1 with a 3.72 ERA in three starts this year vs. the Cardinals. He won't have to deal with Jedd Gyorko, as he has joined second baseman Kolton Wong and outfielder Marcell Ozuna on the DL, although Ozuna is expected back Saturday. Does it even matter who the Cards start here? It's rookie Austin Gomber (4-0, 2.79). He has allowed two runs in eight innings vs. the Reds.
Key trends: The Reds are 1-10 in Bailey's past 11 in St. Louis. The over is 7-3 in the previous 10 meetings overall.
Early lean: Being as it's my last MLB: Reds!
Diamondbacks at Dodgers (-121, 7.5)
Was to be the pitching matchup of the night between friends, ex-teammates and former Cy Young winners in Arizona's Zack Greinke and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. If somehow this was your wild-card game, that would no doubt be the same pitching matchup if each manager had said pitcher available. Alas, the Dodgers went and ruined it here. Greinke (13-8, 2.93) beat Seattle on Sunday, allowing an unearned run over 6.2. He's 2-0 despite a 4.38 ERA in two starts this year vs. the Dodgers. Matt Kemp (6-for-32) can't hit him. Cody Bellinger (5-for-15, 2 HRs) can. Kershaw has been pushed back to Saturday for an extra day of rest and also to line him up for another big series next weekend vs. the Rockies. So it's fellow southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu (4-1, 2.18), who actually has a better ERA than Kershaw. Ryu is 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA in three starts since a long DL stint. He has a 5.40 ERA in two starts this year vs. Arizona.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 4-1 in Ryu's past five at home. The under is 6-1 in his previous seven there.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
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