Daily Expert MLB Picks: Thursday, July 26, 2018, Opening Line Report
I was looking forward to writing about Cardinals rookie right-hander Daniel Poncedeleon's next start later this week. The 26-year-old made his big-league debut Monday about 14 months after suffering a head injury on a comebacker that nearly killed him. All Poncedeleon (great name!) did was no-hit the Reds for seven innings. It was actually quite OK for the Cardinals to yank him after seven because he already had thrown a career-high 116 pitches and you don't want this guy blowing out his elbow or shoulder. Poncedeleon became just the fifth pitcher in the expansion era (since 1961) to carry a no-hit bid through seven innings in his MLB debut. So how did the Cardinals reward him Tuesday? He was sent back to Triple-A. It's nothing that the rookie obviously did as St. Louis just needed a fresh arm, but come on! It's been a rather dismal season in St. Louis, and this has been the best story to happen. Why not give him another immediate shot in the rotation? I'm sure Poncedeleon will be back soon. He was called up last month, but the Cardinals sent him back down after three games in which he didn't see action.
Diamondbacks at Cubs ( -115, TBA )
MLB Network game at 2:20 p.m. ET and the series finale. The Cubs looked set in the rotation this spring after adding Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood, but Darvish has barely pitched due to injury and Chatwood (4-5, 4.84) is basically incapable of going six full innings because he's so wild - a league-high 79 walks. Chatwood went seven scoreless innings on April 29 vs. Milwaukee and hasn't gone more than 5.2 since. He walked six last time out vs. St. Louis in 5.1 innings but managed to get the win. Arizona's Chris Owings is 7-for-18 off Chatwood with four doubles so he should get a start somewhere. The Diamondbacks' Zack Godley (11-6, 4.65) comes off a no-decision vs. the Rockies, allowing three earned over five. It was the fifth straight outing he wasn't taken deep. The Cubs' Addison Russell is 3-for-4 off him with two homers.
Key trend: The Cubs are 5-1 in Chatwood's past six at home. The "over/under" is 6-2 in his past eight at Wrigley.
Early lean: Diamondbacks.
White Sox at Angels (-183, 9)
Sometimes baseball is a funny game. I fade the White Sox every time the terrible Dylan Covey (4-5, 4.95) takes the mound. Saw no reason to change things up when Covey was in Seattle last Saturday, so naturally he had the outing of his career with 8.1 shutout innings and only two hits allowed. It was Covey's first win since June 13. Only a few Angels have seen him - Ian Kinsler is 2-for-2 with a walk. L.A.'s Nick Tropeano (3-5, 4.58) returned from around six weeks on the DL Saturday and lost to Houston, surrendering one earned over five. He did walk a season-high four. Only a few White Sox have faced him; Jose Abreu is 1-for-3 with a double and three RBIs.
Key trend: The White Sox are 2-12 in Covey's past 14 on the road. The Angels are 4-1 in Tropeano's past five on four days of rest. The over is 4-1 in Covey's past five and Tropeano's past five.
Early lean: Angels and over.
Royals at Yankees (-260, 9.5)
Could this be the final start as a Yankee for Sonny Gray? New York is shopping Gray (7-7, 5.34) - even though the team clearly needs starting pitching -- because he's signed long term and still pretty young at 28 so he would fetch a decent return. Some guys just don't pitch well in the Big Fishbowl of the Big Apple, and maybe that's Gray's problem. In theory, the Yanks would flip whatever they got for Gray for immediate pitching help or maybe get a veteran arm or two back. Gray did beat the Mets last time out (5.1 IP, 2 ER). No Royal has had much success off him. Alex Gordon is 2-for-14. Kansas City's Jakob Junis (5-10, 5.03) hasn't won since May 18. The Royals had lost seven straight of his outings until Saturday when Junis went 4.1 innings of a no-decision vs. the Twins as he was on a pitch count off the DL. New York's Aaron Judge is 1-for-6 with a homer off him. Junis won't have to worry about Gary Sanchez as he went back on the DL. Gleyber Torres is back from the DL, though.
Key trend: The Royals have lost five straight Junis' starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Yankees are 1-4 in Gray's past five at home. The over is 7-0 in Gray's past seven at home vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Yankees on runline and over.
Mets at Pirates (-160, 8.5)
Here's a trivia fact for you: These are the only two teams in the National League this season to win at least nine games in a row. The Mets did it way at the beginning and have fallen off a cliff. The Pirates got red-hot right before the All-Star break (were going for 12th straight win Wednesday) and are now shockingly back in the wild-card race - although I don't see how they stay there in all honesty. Pittsburgh took two of three at the Mets in June. It's lefty Steven Matz (4-8, 3.65) for the Mets. He lost a third in a row Saturday, allowing five runs over five and a season-high nine hits at the Yankees. Matz took a ND vs. the Pirates on June 26 (7 IP, 3 ER). Gregory Polanco is 2-for-5 off him with a dinger. Pittsburgh rookie Nick Kingham (5-4, 4.11) won his third in a row Saturday in Cincinnati (6.1 IP, 2 ER). It's his first look at the Mets.
Key trend: The Mets are 3-7 in Matz's past 10. The Bucs are 5-12 in their past 17 vs. a lefty. The under is 7-2 in Matz's past nine.
Early lean: Pirates and under.
Brewers at Giants (-118, 8)
MLB late game at 10:15 p.m. ET - only matchup after 8 p.m. ET. The Brewers got some bad news this week with starting pitcher Brent Suter being diagnosed with a torn UCL, meaning Tommy John surgery and 12-18 months on the shelf. That just reinforces Milwaukee's need for pitching. It's just the fifth start of the season for Brewers lefty Wade Miley (1-1, 1.56) due to injury. He was very good Friday vs. the Dodgers, allowing one unearned run over six. The Giants' Buster Posey is 9-for-25 off him with three doubles and a homer. San Francisco rookie Dereck Rodriguez (5-1, 2.72) won in Oakland on Friday, allowing one run over 6.1. He's been fantastic. It's his first look at Milwaukee.
Key trend: The Brewers are 14-4 in their past 18 vs. the NL West. The Giants are 6-2 in their past eight series openers. The under is 4-0 on Rodriguez's past four.
Early lean: Giants and under.
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