Daily Expert MLB Picks: Thursday, June 28, 2018, Opening Line Report
The stripped-down Miami Marlins were given a win total of just 64.5 back in the spring, the fewest of any team at the various sportsbooks. They are predictably last in the NL East but have actually played a bit better than expected. That said, if you took the under on the prop you may have gotten a bit of good news this week in that arguably the team's top starting pitcher, rookie left-hander Caleb Smith, is expected done for 2018. Smith is dealing with a Grade 3 lat strain, suffered Sunday in Colorado. He was given two options to fix the problem, neither of which sound fun: either undergo surgery or to let the muscle reattach to the bone itself. Smith hasn't decided yet, but the Marlins have zero reason to even try and rush him back this year. Smith is 5-6 and his 4.19 ERA leads all regular Marlins starters, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about that team.
Diamondbacks at Marlins ( +158, 7.5 )
First game of the day at 12:10 p.m. ET. I mentioned in Tuesday's Opening Line Report story that this could be a huge week for the Snakes with Shelby Miller returning from Tommy John surgery Monday and Robbie Ray from an oblique injury - he started Wednesday in Miami. Well, maybe not. Miller was rocked in a loss to the Marlins and then fellow pitcher Clay Buchholz landed on the DL with his own oblique injury. Arizona's Zack Greinke (7-5, 3.66) shut out the Pirates on two hits over six on Saturday for his eighth quality start of the year. He beat Miami on June 2 (6.2 IP, 1 ER). Starlin Castro is 9-for-25 off him with a homer. The Marlins' Trevor Richards (2-4, 4.91) won in Colorado on Saturday, giving up one run over six. It's the rookie's first career look at Arizona.
Key trends: The Diamondbacks are 28-8 in Greinke's past 26 vs. teams with a losing record. The Marlins have lost Richards' past four vs. teams with a winning record. The "over/under" is 6-2 in Greinke's past eight on the road.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and over.
Cubs at Dodgers (-180, 7)
MLB Network game at 3:10 p.m. ET. Last meeting of the season between the teams, although a third straight NLCS matchup is quite possible. Cubs lefty Jose Quintana (6-6, 4.26) hasn't won since May 31. He had yet another short outing Friday, lasting just five innings and surrendering four runs in a loss to the Reds. Quintana has now walked multiple batters in 10 straight starts. He missed the Dodgers in their visit to Wrigley. Logan Forsythe is 5-for-11 against him with a homer. Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (1-4, 2.94) returned from nearly a month on the DL and went three innings at the Mets, allowing two runs and five hits. Because he didn't have a minor-league rehab start, L.A. limited him to 55 pitches. Anthony Rizzo hits him well, going 5-for-14 with two homers. The Cubs put Kris Bryant on the DL Tuesday.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 6-1 in Kershaw's past seven at home vs. the Cubs. The under is 9-3-1 in his past 13 against them overall.
Early lean: Dodgers on runline and under.
Angels at Red Sox (-144, 10.5)
ESPN prime-time game. L.A. rookie Jaime Barria (5-3, 3.40) hasn't won in his past three, although he gave up only a run over five vs. Toronto last time out. It's the 21-year-old's first career look at Boston. He's 3-1 with a 3.10 ERA on the road. Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright (2-1, 3.38) didn't have his knuckler working much Friday vs. Seattle as he was bombed for 10 runs and 10 hits, including three homers, over 3.1 innings as his ERA jumped from 1.23. He was scheduled to start here, but maybe the Red Sox were concerned as they put him on the DL. So, it's lefty Brian Johnson (1-2, 4.50). He has pitched 22 times this year and his only start was his season debut on April 2 in Miami (6 IP, 1 ER). No Angel has more than four at-bats against him.
Key trends: The Halos have lost four straight Game 3s. The Sox are 5-0 in Wright's past five on five days of rest. The over is 7-2-1 in Wright's past 10 at home.
Early lean: Red Sox and over.
Nationals at Phillies (-150, 7.5)
Series opener between NL East rivals. Washington's Tanner Roark (3-8, 4.27) faced the Phillies on Friday in D.C. and took the loss, surrendering six runs and seven hits over 4.1 innings, his second straight below-par outing. Roark is 6-8 in his career vs. Philadelphia with a 4.34 ERA. Odubel Herrera kills him, going 15-for-34 with five doubles and a homer. Young Phillies ace Aaron Nola (9-2, 2.58) should be in the All-Star Game. He won in Washington last Friday, allowing two runs and four hits over six. It was Nola's 12th quality start of the year. At home this year, Nola is 6-0 with a 1.86 ERA in seven starts. Bryce Harper, who might be waking up a bit at the plate, is 8-for-19 off him with two homers. Daniel Murphy is 9-for-25 with five extra-base hits.
Key trends: The Nats are 1-6 in their past seven series openers. The Phils are 16-5 in Nola's past 21 at home. The under is 10-4-1 in his previous 15 overall.
Early lean: Phillies and over.
Brewers at Reds (-102, 9.5)
ESPN+ game. Cincinnati's Anthony DeSclafani (3-1, 4.09) had quite the memorable game last time out. He went a season-high 6.1 innings in beating the Cubs, allowing two runs and three hits. But what he'll forever remember was hitting the first grand slam by a Cincinnati pitcher in 59 years. The last to have done it was Bob Purkey against the Cubs on Aug. 1, 1959. It's DeSclafani's first look at Milwaukee this year. He is 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA in five career games (four starts) vs. the Brewers. Christian Yelich is 2-for-5 off him with a double. Milwaukee's Junior Guerra (3-5, 2.82) won for the first time since May 14 last time out, allowing one run in five against the Cardinals. He has thrown 5.2 scoreless innings vs. the Reds in 2018. Adam Duvall is 3-for-12 career off him with two homers.
Key trends: The Brewers are 2-6 in Guerra's past eight on the road. The Reds are 4-0 in DeSclafani's past four vs. the NL Central. The over is 6-2 in his previous eight overall.
Early lean: Reds and over.
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