Daily Expert MLB Picks: Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018, Opening Line Report
This writer has some connections at a few of the Doc's-affiliated sportsbooks, and I've been asking for Rookie of the Year props for several weeks. That's a tough prop to handicap because obviously guys come up at different times of the year. Shoot, someone called up in June could win Rookie of the Year. Some top prospects won't come up either at all or until rosters expand in September. It's why you don't see ROY odds in the spring like the other major MLB awards. But, Bovada has released ROY odds , and the favorites are about whom you'd expect. In the American League, it's the Yankees' Gleyber Torres (+150) and Miguel Andujar (+400) and the Angels' Shohei Ohtani (+280). No question Ohtani was the early favorite until he injured his elbow and became solely a one-way player. You won't see him pitch again in 2018, so I don't think he hits enough to win. In the National League, it's Washington's Juan Soto (+125) and Atlanta's Ronald Acuna Jr. (+260). I see no reason to bet against either of the favorites.
Yankees at Red Sox (TBA)
Fox Sports 1 game at 4:05 p.m. ET. It's was to be matchup of pitching trade additions on each side, but Yankees lefty J.A. Happ was placed on the DL Thursday after being diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease earlier this week. That sounds gross (usually happens to young kids) but it's not a major thing as the Mets' Noah Syndergaard had it and only missed one start. Happ was very good in his New York debut last Sunday vs. the Royals. The Yankees called up Luis Cessa presumably to make a spot start, but he had to be used out of the bullpen in Thursday's ugly loss in Boston. So who starts here? We do know that the Yankees will be calling someone up to make it. Top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield pitched on Thursday, taking him out of consideration, so early word is that it will be Chance Adams making his MLB debut. He's ranked as the organization's No. 13 prospect and has a 4.50 ERA in Triple-A this season. Boston traded for Nathan Eovaldi (4-4, 3.80) from Tampa Bay, and the former Yankee was great in his Sox debut Sunday in shutting out the Twins over seven. New York's Didi Gregorius is 5-for-9 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Red Sox are 20-8 in their past 28 Saturday games. The "over/under" is 6-2-1 in the Yankees' past nine vs. the AL East.
Early lean: Boston will be solidly favored here, but I'd go Yankees on the runline since it will be a pitcher that the Sox don't know and Eovaldi struggled in his lone start vs. New York earlier this year.
White Sox at Rays ( -166, 7.5 )
One of the best things I've ever seen regarding an MLB team happened earlier this week when Tampa Bay traded Chris Archer to Pittsburgh after earlier dealing another few pitchers: For a while on the MLB.com team depth charts, the Rays didn't have a SINGLE starting pitcher listed. That's awesome. Of course, they are changing the game by using "openers" a few times a week - relievers who start games but go just an inning or two. The reason there were no pitchers on the depth chart was that ace lefty Blake Snell (12-5, 2.27) was on the DL with a minor shoulder issue. So minor that Snell will return here without even a rehab start. Snell won at the White Sox on April 10 (6 IP, 1 ER). No player on the Sox roster has homered off him. Chicago lefty Carlos Rodon (3-3, 3.24) has thrown four straight quality starts to lower his ERA from 4.55.
Key trends: The White Sox are 5-16 in Rodon's past 21 on the road. The Rays have won eight straight at home vs. lefties. The under is 10-4-1 in Tampa's previous 15 at home vs. a lefty.
Early lean: Rays and under.
Angels at Indians (-235, 8.5)
On Fox Sports 1 at 7:10 p.m. ET. It's Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber for the Tribe. Kluber (13-6, 2.79) struggled mightily in back-to-back losses to the Yankees and Pirates (a sore knee might have been a cause) but then was back to normal on Sunday in Detroit, allowing one run and five hits over 7.1 innings. Kluber's second start of the year was at the Angels, allowing two runs over seven in a no-decision. Mike Trout is just 2-for-15 off him but does have a homer. Albert Pujols is 0-for-16. Ohtani 1-for-2 with a homer. L.A.'s Felix Pena (1-2, 5.23) was destroyed Sunday by the Mariners, lasting just one-third of an inning and surrendering seven runs. His season ERA had been 3.34. It's Pena's first career look at Cleveland.
Key trends: The Indians are 1-4 in Kluber's past five at home. The under is 4-1 in Pena's past five. The over is 14-3-1 in Kluber's previous 18.
Early lean: Indians on runline and over.
Braves at Mets (+108, 8)
Atlanta's rainout Wednesday vs. Miami juggled the Braves' rotation a bit and now Kevin Gausman will make his team debut Saturday with Manager Brian Snitker saying he's going to a six-man rotation for the foreseeable future. Gausman (5-8, 4.43) was acquired at the deadline from Baltimore, and he's a guy scouts love but who just never could put it all together. Sometimes a change of scenery works wonders - ask Jake Arrieta about leaving Baltimore. Gausman's last Orioles start was a good one, allowing two runs over seven last Saturday vs. Tampa Bay. Surprised that Zack Wheeler (5-6, 4.11) wasn't traded Tuesday by the Mets as his value might never be higher. Over his last eight starts, Wheeler is 3-1 with a 2.96 ERA. He's from the Atlanta area. Freddie Freeman kills him, going 8-for-16 with two homers and 10 walks.
Key trends: The Mets are 1-8 in Wheeler's past nine at home vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 14-6-2 in his previous 22 at home.
Early lean: Mets and over.
Blue Jays at Mariners (-220, 7.5)
Your only late-night game with a 10 p.m. ET start and streamed on ESPN+. We all know that just one player has thrown back-to-back no-hitters: Cincinnati's Johnny Vander Meer way back when. I'm assuming that no pitcher has thrown no-hitters in back-to-back starts against one team. Mariners lefty James Paxton (9-4, 3.49) tries for that Saturday. Paxton became the second-ever Canadian with a no-no on May 8 in Toronto, walking three with seven strikeouts. It was the sixth no-hitter in Mariners history. The Jays' Marco Estrada (4-8, 4.90) returned from nearly a month on the DL with a hip injury on Monday and lost in Oakland (4 IP, 4 ER). He didn't face Seattle in May. Nelson Cruz is 6-for-13 with two homers off him. Estrada likely won't have to worry about Dee Gordon after he rolled his ankle on Thursday. He figures to miss at least a few games.
Key trends: Blue Jays are 1-8 in Estrada's past nine starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Mariners are 5-1 in Paxton's past six vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 4-0 in Paxton's past four vs. Toronto.
Early lean: Mariners on runline and under.
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