Daily Expert MLB Picks: Friday, July 27, 2018, Opening Line Report
Nothing is more entertaining than when uber-rich franchises the Red Sox and Yankees try to one up each other around the trade deadline. On Tuesday night, it was announced that New York had acquired former All-Star closer Zach Britton from Baltimore - keeping him from Boston potentially. Not to be outdone, the Red Sox on Wednesday acquired starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi from Tampa Bay - keeping him from the Yankees potentially. The Red Sox might actually be done now, but I fully expect the Yankees to add a starting pitcher. They also might have to consider a catcher with Gary Sanchez back on the DL and now possibly out until late August/early September with an aggravated groin injury. GM Brian Cashman has said he would explore the options of adding another catcher by the trade deadline but wasn't optimistic that would happen.
Indians at Tigers ( +174, 9 )
ESPN+ game with Cleveland 10-3 in the series this season; this weekend is the last time the teams play in Detroit. This starts a stretch of 22 straight games for the Indians against teams with a losing record, so they should have the AL Central sewn up relatively soon. Cleveland starts Carlos Carrasco (12-5, 4.03), who is among the AL leaders in run support at more than six per game. He has won three straight outings, but one of those was in relief. Carrasco is 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA in two starts this year vs. Detroit. Might shock you to learn that the Tigers' Mike Fiers (7-6, 3.49) has been one of the most profitable pitchers in the majors; it's because he's basically always a big underdog. This could well be Fiers' final start in a Detroit uniform as he's definitely available via trade. Fiers is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts this year against Cleveland.
Key trends: The Indians are 12-2 in Carrasco's past 14 vs. Detroit. The "over/under" has gone under on four of Carrasco's past five in Detroit. The under is 8-1-2 in Fiers' past 11.
Early lean: Indians and under.
Rays at Orioles (+125, 8.5)
It seems like we've been hearing trade rumors about Rays ace Chris Archer for a couple of years, but there seems to be a bit of "where there's smoke there's fire" this time around. Frankly, Archer (3-4, 4.30) is a bit overrated, but he does have great stuff and is under team control on a great contract for a few more years so the Rays would still get plenty for him. Archer comes off a win over the Marlins, striking out a season-high 13 but allowing four runs and eight hits over six. That somewhat sums him up. If you don't bet against Baltimore the rest of the season, you aren't paying attention because that team already has quit and is selling off everything that isn't nailed down. Baltimore's Andrew Cashner (2-9, 4.40) hasn't won since May 21 but has been pretty good since June 1. He lost at Tampa Bay on May 26 (5 IP, 5 ER).
free-agent bust Alex Cobb (2-13, 6.17) had been with the Rays his entire career before this season. Cobb's last win was June 5 at the Mets. He's 0-2 with a 6.97 ERA in two starts against his former club.
Key trends: The Rays are 1-5 in Archer's past six in Baltimore. The over is 8-3 in Archer's past 11 vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Rays and over.
Mets at Pirates (-169, 8.5)
Monitor the status of Pirates outfielder Starling Marte, who had been a big part of the team's long winning streak that ended Wednesday. He left that game in Cleveland after taking a Trevor Bauer fastball off his left hand in the top of the first inning. Marte is hitting .292 with 16 homers, 54 RBIs and 25 steals. He's what Andrew McCutchen used to be. Pittsburgh starts Ivan Nova (6-6, 4.28). He won in Cincinnati on Sunday, allowing two runs over 6.2 innings. Since coming off the DL on June 10, Nova is 4-1 with a 3.40 ERA. He took a no-decision at the Mets on June 27 (6 IP, 3 ER). Jay Bruce hits .313 off him in 32 at-bats with a homer. New York lefty Jason Vargas (2-6, 8.60) was originally expected to start earlier this week against the Padres but apparently will come off the DL from his calf injury here. I'm sure the Pirates are happy they get to face him instead. David Freese is 6-for-11 off him career.
Key trends: The Mets are 1-6 in Vargas' past seven on the road. The Pirates are 7-2 in Nova's past nine at home vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 6-2-1 in the Mets' past nine on the road vs. righties.
Early lean: Pirates on runline and over.
Dodgers at Braves (+150, 8)
If these teams meet in the playoffs, Friday's pitching matchup could well be the Game 1 scenario assuming both managers can start their aces on normal rest. Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (3-5, 2.64) has been solid-but-not-overpowering since his return from the disabled list. He lost in Milwaukee on Saturday, allowing four runs (one earned) over six. Kershaw isn't striking out a ton these days. The Braves' Freddie Freeman is 4-for-16 with eight strikeouts off him. Atlanta All-Star Mike Foltynewicz (7-6, 2.85) is slipping a bit, allowing at least four runs in three straight outings. Last time out in Washington, he looked a bit off in the first inning following a long rain delay but then was good after. Foltynewicz allowed two earned runs or fewer in 15 of his first 16 starts. No Dodger has m ore than four at-bats off him.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 7-0 in Kershaw's past seven vs. Atlanta. The under is 11-1 in the Braves' past 12 at home vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Braves on runline and under.
Cubs at Cardinals (-116, 8.5)
These teams just played five times last weekend at Wrigley, with the Cubs taking three of them. The Cubs might have to put Kris Bryant back on the DL as his shoulder is bothering him; that cost him about three weeks on the DL earlier this season. The Cubs might lead the NL Central, but they have some problems with injuries in the lineup, rotation (Yu Darvish) and bullpen (Brandon Morrow). It's lefty Mike Montgomery (3-3, 3.73) here. He pitched Game 2 of a doubleheader Saturday vs. St. Louis and took a no-decision (6 IP, 1 ER). The Cards' Luke Weaver pitched Game 1 of the DH on Saturday and lost (4 IP, 3 ER, 5 BB). He's 0-2 with a 9.75 ERA in three starts vs. the Cubs this year.
Key trends: The Cubs have lost Montgomery's past four vs. the NL Central. The over is 5-0 in Weaver's past five vs. the Cubs.
Early lean: Cardinals and over.
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