Daily Expert MLB Picks: Thursday, July 5, 2018, Opening Line Report
No sport is more statistical driven than baseball. We all know that 600 homers, or 3,000 hits or a .400 average is hollowed ground. How many games Joe DiMaggio hit in consecutively. How many Cal Ripken Jr. played in during his Ironman streak, etc. But sometimes, the statistics are ridiculous. A couple of weeks ago, good-looking Nationals rookie Juan Soto homered in a game against the Yankees. Thing is, that game was a continuation of one that was played on May 15 but called with the teams tied 5-5 after 5½ innings. Soto wasn't even a major-leaguer then. So he homered in a game while he was technically still in the minors. However, that dinger will not go into the record books as his first MLB homer. Then on Monday, perhaps something even more ridiculous. Dodgers reliever Caleb Ferguson was credited with a save after throwing three scoreless innings to close it out. One issue: He entered with a 17-1 lead! When someone pitches for at least three innings, he is eligible for a save regardless of score, but it's at the discretion of the official scorer. I wasn't able to find this information, but I wonder if that's the most lopsided save, so to speak, in MLB history.
Rangers at Tigers ( +105, 10 )
Series opener between teams in the same boat: Going nowhere and desperate to sell ahead of the trade deadline. The Tigers lost two of three in Arlington earlier this season but actually have been a pretty solid home team (despite a current four-game skid there). It's Yovani Gallardo for Texas. He was terrible in three relief appearances earlier this year with Cincinnati and released. He's 2-0 despite a 6.11 ERA in three starts since signing with Texas. He hasn't faced Detroit this year. Victor Martinez is 2-for-5 off him. Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd (4-6, 4.18) hasn't won in his past four. Two of those outings were not good and two were solid, including last time out vs. Toronto (6 IP, 3 ER). He missed Texas earlier. Robinson Chirinos is 3-for-7 against him with two dingers.
Key trends: The Rangers are 1-6 in their past seven road games vs. a lefty. The Tigers are 6-0 in Boyd's past six at home. The "over/under" has gone under in Boyd's past four vs. Texas.
Early lean: Tigers and under.
Braves at Brewers (TBA)
The Brewers were hoping to activate outfielder Lorenzo Cain (groin) from the disabled list when he became eligible on Wednesday but he wasn't quite ready. Perhaps Thursday but more likely Friday assuming no setbacks. It's Jhoulys Chacin (6-3, 3.71) for the Brewers. He comes off a no-decision in Cincinnati, allowing one run over five. Freddie Freeman has seen him more than any Brave, going 5-for-11 with two homers. Atlanta's Max Fried (1-2, 2.55) showed why he was once a highly-touted prospect with 6.2 shutout innings in St. Louis on Saturday and a career-high 11 strikeouts. He was recalled from Triple-A just to start that one and obviously earned another. He hasn't seen the Brewers, although Christian Yelich is 2-for-4 off him.
Key trends: The Braves are 6-1 in their past seven series openers. The Brewers have won their past four Game 1s. The over is 12-3 in Atlanta's past 15 on the road. It's 6-2 in Milwaukee's previous eight vs. the NL East.
Early lean: TBA as Brewers haven't officially named Chacin, but official game notes list him. Like Milwaukee.
White Sox at Astros (-305, 7.5)
Houston could be in the market for a veteran catcher via trade because Brian McCann is back on the disabled list, this time for 4-6 weeks due to right knee surgery. Max Stassi will be the primary guy most of while McCann is out with Tim Federowicz called up to serve as the backup. By far the top catcher available is Miami's J.T. Realmuto. The Astros start Justin Verlander (9-2, 2.12), who was the Cy Young favorite but hasn't won in his past three to be supplanted in that role. In his last two starts, Verlander has allowed four and five earned runs, respectively, the most in any two starts he's had in 2018. Jose Abreu, if he plays (ankle), hammers Verlander to the tune of 15-for-38 with five homers. Chicago lefty Carlos Rodon (1-3, 4.55) got a late start to the year and makes his sixth start. His worst of the first five was Saturday in Texas (5.1 IP, 5 ER). Houston's Jose Altuve is 4-for-13 against him.
Key trends: The White Sox have won seven straight series openers started by Rodon. The Astros are 1-5 in Verlander's past six at home. The under is 6-2 in Verlander's past eight at home.
Early lean: White Sox on runline and under.
Padres at Diamondbacks (-132, 9)
Arizona is getting healthy in the outfield. A.J. Pollock has been activated after a long DL absence and Steven Souza will follow him any day now. Souza was a breakout star last year for Tampa Bay but is hitting just .163 with zero homers in 14 big-league game this year. The Diamondbacks' Shelby Miller (0-2, 11.42) has been terrible in his two outings since returning from Tommy John surgery. Then again, he was terrible before it - at least with Arizona. Freddy Galvis can't hit him much, going 2-for-15 with four Ks. San Diego rookie lefty Eric Lauer (3-5, 5.08) struggled in May with a 6.75 ERA but dropped that number to 2.76 ERA in June. It's the 23-year-old's first look at Arizona.
Key trends: The Padres are 1-6 in Lauer's past seven on the road. The Snakes are 2-10 in Miller's past 12 at home. The over is 5-1-1 in Miller's past seven series openers.
Early lean: Padres and over.
Angels at Mariners (-105, 8.5)
ESPN+ game. The Halos activated Shohei Ohtani on Tuesday and will keep him solely at designated hitter for surely the rest of the season as he still might need Tommy John surgery on that pitching elbow. I guess they think he can't make it worse hitting, although one awkward swing might. It's lefty Tyler Skaggs (6-5, 2.64) for Los Angeles, and he was 3-1 with a 0.84 ERA in June. His last outing was only five innings because it was scorching hot in Baltimore. Skaggs took a no-decision in Seattle on May 5 (5.1 IP, 2 ER). Kyle Seager is 7-for-21 with two homers off him. Seattle's Marco Gonzales (8-5, 3.77) comes off the first complete game of his young career, allowing one run and six hits with no walks in beating Kansas City. Gonzales has two no-decisions this year vs. the Angels, giving up seven runs over 11 innings. Mike Trout is 5-for-9 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Angels are 8-1 in Skaggs' past nine vs. the AL West. The M's are 4-0 in Gonzales' past four at home. The over is 4-0 in each pitcher's past four against the opponent.
Early lean: Mariners and over.
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