Daily Expert MLB Picks: Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, Opening Line Report
I know a handful of MLB beat writers, and I happen to know that sometimes they like to make a "point" when voting for individual baseball awards. That maybe they are smarter than the average joe and are now paying attention to analytics that the casual fan might not understand. In 2010, for example, Seattle's Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young Award despite just a 13-12 record, but all his other numbers were great. Should a pitcher get penalized just for wins and losses that might be out of his control? I bring this up because I'll be fascinated how Mets ace Jacob deGrom fares in the NL Cy Young voting if he keeps pitching as he has. DeGrom threw six shutout innings with 10 Ks on Wednesday vs. the Reds to improve to just 6-7 - it's not his fault the Mets stink offensively and don't support him. DeGrom leads the majors with an ERA of 1.77 and is second in the NL in innings, strikeouts (183) and WHIP (0.96). Would deGrom win the award with those numbers if he played on a winning team? Almost certainly. Incidentally, if I'm the Mets then I'm trading deGrom this winter as his value will never be higher.
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Rangers at Yankees ( -235, 10 )
MLB Network game at 1:05 p.m. ET. It's journeyman Rangers right-hander Drew Hutchison (1-2, 6.29), who was a pretty touted guy when he debuted with Toronto in 2012 and had his moments but never was able to put it all together partly due to injuries - he didn't pitch in the majors in either 2013 or 2017. He started this year with the Phillies and made his Texas debut Sunday and allowed six runs in three innings vs. Baltimore. He has made nine career starts and one relief appearance against the Yankees and is 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA. New York's Lance Lynn (8-8, 4.58) made his Yankees starting debut Monday at the White Sox and shut them out on two hits over 7.1 innings. He also threw 4.1 innings of scoreless relief in his overall New York debut. Only one current Ranger has faced him: Shin-Soo Cho (4-for-14, HR).
Key trends: The Yankees are 17-8 in their past 25 in Game 3 of a series. The "over/under" is 9-4-2 in New York's past 15 vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Yankees on runline and over.
Nationals at Cubs (-132, TBA)
Fox Sports 1 telecast at 4:05 p.m. ET. The Cubbies have to be moderately concerned about lefty ace Jon Lester (12-4, 3.44). He has allowed at least four runs in three of his past four outings and has seen his season ERA rise nearly a run since his last victory on July 15 in San Diego. Walks have suddenly become an issue. He did not get a decision vs. the Nats in two starts in the 2017 NLDS. Bryce Harper is 1-for-7 off him with a homer. Washington's Tanner Roark (6-12, 4.21) had been the worst pitcher in the majors in terms of money units lost but has won three straight and allowed a combined two runs and 14 hits in those 22 innings. Jason Heyward might get this one off as he's 0-for-18 career off Roark.
Key trends: The Nats are 1-5 in Roark's past six vs. teams with a winning record. The Cubs are 10-2 in Lester's past 12 vs. the NL East. The over is 7-1 in Lester's past eight.
Early lean: Nats on runline.
Indians at White Sox (+216, 9)
Corey Kluber gets all the Cy Young love on the Indians, but Trevor Bauer (11-6, 2.25) deserves some consideration as he has turned into a 1A starter. Bauer hasn't personally lost since June 29 and blanked the Twins on three hits with 10 strikeouts over six on Monday. He's first in the AL in innings, second in strikeouts (206) and third in ERA. Bauer is 1-1 with a 1.84 ERA in two starts this year vs. Chicago. Jose Abreu is a career .300 hitter off him but hasn't gone yard in 40 at-bats. Yolmer Sanchez is just 1-for-25 with 12 Ks. I could do that. The White Sox's James Shields (4-13, 4.50) could still be moved by the end of this month. He had a fairly typical outing Sunday at Tampa Bay in allowing four runs in six innings. One of Shields' best starts of the season was June 12 vs. Cleveland (7 IP, 1 ER). Yonder Alonso is 4-for-12 with three homers off him.
Key trends: The Indians are 4-1 in Bauer's past five vs. the White Sox. The under is 9-4 in his previous 13 against them. The under is 4-0 in Shields' past four vs. Cleveland.
Early lean: Indians on runline and under.
Brewers at Braves (-102, 9)
Another Fox Sports 1 game at 7:10 p.m. ET. Brewers lefty Wade Miley (2-1, 2.10) has been a huge surprise considering he lost 15 games with a 5.61 ERA last year with Baltimore. Not sure this run of success will continue, and Miley comes off allowing a season-high three runs over five innings against Colorado. Only a handful of Braves have seen him - Freddie Freeman is 4-for-15 with a homer. Atlanta's Julio Teheran (8-7, 4.48) has failed to make it six innings in his past three, although the Braves have won two of those. Teheran is second in the NL with 61 walks and has issued four free passes in each of his past two. Christian Yelich has easily seen him the most of any Brewer, going 11-for-39 with two doubles.
Key trends: The Braves have won seven straight Teheran starts vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 4-1 in Miley's past five. The under is 5-2 in Teheran's past seven vs. Milwaukee.
Early lean: Braves and over.
Cardinals at Royals (+130, 9)
St. Louis adds the DH for the only interleague matchup on the schedule. You don't hear much about Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty (5-6, 3.27) in the NL Rookie of the Year race, but he's probably third behind the Nats' Juan Soto and Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. right now. Flaherty blanked the Pirates on three hits over six on Sunday for just his second win in the past 10 starts - although that's more from a lack of support. His 118 strikeouts are first among NL rookies. It's his first look at Kansas City. Royals lefty Danny Duffy (7-10, 4.70) was shelled for six runs and eight hits in six innings in Minnesota on Sunday. He has either dominated or been rocked this year. Only a few Cardinals have seen him. Matt Carpenter is 0-for-7.
Key trends: The Cards are 3-7 in Flaherty's past 10 on the road. The Cards are 2-8 in Duffy's past 10 at home. The under is 11-0 in Kansas City's previous 11 interleague games vs. right-handed starters.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
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