Daily Expert MLB Picks: Friday, July 6, 2018, Opening Line Report
Bovada has released updated individual MLB awards odds, and there is only one surprise in my mind: Atlanta's Freddie Freeman is the new favorite to win a first NL MVP Award at +145, just ahead of Colorado's Nolan Arenado (+155). Bryce Harper had been favored for a while, but he hasn't been hitting for a few months (other than the occasional homer) and is now way down at +1200. Max Scherzer is the -600 Cy Young favorite even though he has lost four of five. Not his fault that the Nats aren't scoring. Be careful betting on the Mets' Jacob deGrom at +300 because he could be in the American League by July 31. In the AL Cy Young race, the Yankees' Luis Severino is the deserved +240 favorite and Mike Trout is the clear -350 favorite for MVP, although Boston's J.D. Martinez (+400) is closing the gap almost daily.
Reds at Cubs ( -169, TBA )
After an unusual Friday home start time of 5:05 p.m. ET last Friday for the Cubs (indeed that was a special request by the team after flying home from the West Coast the night before), it's back to a 2:20 p.m. ET start here and back on the MLB Network. It's lefty Mike Montgomery for the Cubs, who might activate Kris Bryant off the DL. Montgomery (3-2, 3.55) could end up staying in the rotation all season, which he wants, with all the issues going on with Yu Darvish. Montgomery has a 4.50 ERA and no decisions in eight innings vs. the Reds this year spanning three appearances (one start). Adam Duvall is 4-for-14 off him with a homer. The Reds' Tyler Mahle (6-6, 3.83) struck out a career-high 12 in just 5.2 innings Saturday vs. the Brewers but didn't factor in the decision. He's 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two outings vs. Chicago in 2018. Javier Baez is 4-for-5 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Reds are 6-1 in Mahle's past seven. The Cubs have won six straight Montgomery starts in a series opener. The "over/under" has gone under in eight of Mahle's past nine vs. the NL Central.
Early lean: Reds on runline.
Rangers at Tigers (+106, 9.5)
ESPN+ game. Is Bartolo Colon (5-5, 4.76) a Hall of Famer? I really don't think so, but last time out he beat the White Sox (5 IP, 3 ER) for his 245 th career victory, tying Dennis Martinez for the most by a pitcher from Latin America. Colon is no Juan Marichal, whom he had recently passed for most wins by a pitcher from the Dominican. Colon is 245-181 in his career with a 4.06 ERA and a Cy Young Award. Hall of Pretty Good. He took a ND vs. Detroit on May 9 (5 IP, 2 ER). Victor Martinez is 6-for-22 off him with a homer. Detroit's Jordan Zimmermann (3-0, 3.91) won in Toronto Sunday, allowing one run over seven with no walks. He has been much better since returning from the DL in mid-June. Texas' Rougned Odor is 2-for-4 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Tigers are 1-7 in Zimmermann's past eight at home. The over is 19-7-1 in his previous 27 there. The over is 3-0-1 in Texas' past four on Friday.
Early lean: Tigers and over.
White Sox at Astros (-300, 8)
Young White Sox right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (4-5, 3.68) has won back-to-back starts for the first time this season as the Pale Hose have finally started scoring for him. He held the Rangers to two runs over 6.1 innings Sunday in Texas. Lopez took a no-decision on April 22 vs. Houston (5 IP, 1 ER) in his first career look at the Astros. They start Lance McCullers Jr. (9-3, 3.55), who might be an All-Star if he pitched for most other teams in the AL but is about the fourth-best starter on Houston and thus has no shot at a selection. He hasn't lost since May 26 and shut out Tampa Bay on three hits over seven innings last Thursday. He beat the White Sox on April 22 (6 IP, 1 ER). Red-hot Avisail Garcia is 3-for-5 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Astros are 12-5 in McCullers' past 17 at home vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 11-3 in his previous 14 in that scenario.
Early lean: Astros on runline and under.
Orioles at Twins (-120, 9.5)
As I've written before, the Twins already have waived the white flag and their starter here, Lance Lynn, is 100 percent available as he'll hit free agency again this winter and surely won't be back. Lynn (5-7, 5.49) wouldn't fetch much other than a bit of salary relief, especially off allowing seven runs in just 1.2 innings at the Cubs on Sunday - although to be fair the wind was blowing out at Wrigley. Lynn had been good in June with a 2.83 ERA. Baltimore's Mark Trumbo is 5-for-10 off him with three homers. Birds ace Dylan Bundy (6-7, 3.75) is expected to be activated off the DL from a minor ankle injury. He threw a bullpen session Tuesday and was all good. Bundy hasn't lost in his past four. Minnesota's Logan Morrison is 5-for-15 against him with two dingers.
Key trends: The Orioles are 5-1 in Bundy's past six vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 6-1 in his previous seven on Friday. It's 4-0 in Lynn's previous four at home.
Early lean: Orioles and under.
Red Sox at Royals (+255, 8)
Looks to be the pitching mismatch of the night, which probably means the Royals win now. Boston lefty Chris Sale (8-4, 2.41) leads the AL with 164 strikeouts and has whiffed at least 11 in each of his past three. He absolutely shut down the Yankees on Saturday with exactly that many Ks and one hit allowed in seven innings. That hit was a first-inning single. Sale took a ND vs. Kansas City on May 1 (7 IP, 1 ER). Alcides Escobar hits him well with a .333 clip in 72 at-bats, but Escobar isn't hitting at all this year and might lose his job soon. The Royals' Jason Hammel (2-10, 5.56) hasn't won since May 27 and has surrendered 15 runs and 19 hits in his past two combined. He lost in Boston on April 30 (4.2 IP, 8 ER). Guy simply shouldn't be a big-league starter any longer. The Sox's Xander Bogaerts is 5-for-10 with a homer against Hammel.
Key trends: The Sox are 10-2 in Sale's past 12 road starts vs. teams with a losing record. The Royals are 1-6 in Hammel's past seven at home. The under is 9-2 in Kansas City's past 11 at home vs. a lefty.
Early lean: Only on a hunch, Royals on runline and under. Maybe Sale is flat off facing the Yankees in such a big game.
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