Daily Expert MLB Picks: Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, Opening Line Report
It's quite rare that an MLB team hires a full-time manager who didn't play any professional baseball. You hear of guys who never made it to the majors but at least had a minor-league career (Jim Leyland, Earl Weaver to name two), but rarely no professional ball at all. However, the new St. Louis Cardinals full-time manager Mike Shildt is one. He played collegiately at UNC Asheville, but that was it because he couldn't hit a curveball. His MLB career began as an associate scout. There's no question, though, that Shildt deserves the full-time gig with how well the Cardinals have played since he took over for Mike Matheny (a former big-leaguer) as they lead the NL in wins since then. When he was named interim manager, the Cardinals flat-out announced they would conduct a search at the end of the season for their next manager. Shildt this week was given a deal through 2020. While it's the right thing to do, it's still interesting because that would have been a prime job as St. Louis is such a big baseball town. Guess Joe Girardi will be managing somewhere else in 2018 (White Sox?).
Brewers at Reds ( +125, 9 )
MLB Network game at 12:35 p.m. ET. Cincinnati expects to activate star first baseman Joey Votto soon, maybe even by Wednesday. Votto has been on the disabled list since Aug. 16 because of a right lower leg contusion. Brewers lefty Wade Miley (2-2, 2.32) has lasted just five innings in three of his past four and hasn't won since the end of July. You had to think this regression was coming. His season debut May 2 was in Cincinnati, and he allowed a run over six. Votto, if he plays, is 4-for-12 with a homer off him. Reds lefty Cody Reed (0-1, 3.68) made a few appearances early in the season and then was sent down, called back up on Aug. 31. In seven relief appearances since, he has a 2.79 ERA. Reed has made 12 career starts in his three big-league seasons. Milwaukee's Ryan Braun is 2-for-3 with a homer and five RBIs off him.
Key trends: The Brewers are 4-0 in Miley's past four on five days of rest. The Reds are 0-12 in Reed's 12 career starts (wow). The "over/under" is 6-2 in Miley's past eight.
Early lean: Brewers and over.
Twins at Indians (-220, 9.5)
Facebook Watch game at 1:10 p.m. ET - this was a great addition by MLB/Facebook this year in my opinion and probably is the wave of the future. If you are like me and work from home during the day, it's great to have baseball live baseball going on your computer. The Tribe start Mike Clevinger (9-7, 3.30), who hasn't lost since July 28 and is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his past five. Clevinger hasn't gotten a decision in two starts this year vs. the Twins with a 3.46 ERA. Joe Mauer is 5-for-14 off him with a double. Minnesota's Jake Odorizzi (5-8, 4.38) allowed one earned run over seven Saturday but was a tough-luck loser to Oakland. It was his longest outing of the year. Odorizzi is 0-2 with a 7.85 ERA in four starts vs. Cleveland. Francisco Lindor hits .429 against him with two homers in 14 at-bats.
Key trends: The Twins are 0-4 in Odorizzi's past four on the road. The Tribe are 9-3 in Clevinger's past 12 at home vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 4-1 in Clevinger's previous five vs. Minnesota.
Early lean: Twins on runline and over.
Pirates at Cardinals (-131, 8.5)
The Cards have placed second baseman Kolten Wong on the 10-day DL with a left hamstring strain. Too bad as he had been raking since the break as his .342 average was Top 10 in the National League and his August mark of .362 was fifth. The Cards go with John Gant (5-5, 3.56). He was great in Colorado last time out (7 IP, 1 ER) but took a no-decision. Gant is 0-1 with an 8.68 ERA in two starts this year vs. the Bucs. Starling Marte is 4-for-5 vs. Gant. The Pirates' Joe Musgrove (5-7, 3.56) allowed four runs over four Friday in Milwaukee in a no-decision. All four were in the first inning on a couple of two-run homers. Musgrove threw seven scoreless vs. St. Louis on May 25. Marcell Ozuna is 3-for-6 off him with a double.
Key trends: The Pirates are 2-6 in Musgrove's past eight on five days of rest. The Cards are 1-6 in Gant's past seven vs. the NL Central. The over is 5-2 in Musgrove's previous seven vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Cardinals and over.
Cubs at Braves (-136, 8.5)
MLB Network prime-time game. If you got one of those refrigerator magnet schedules or something this winter for the Cubs or Braves (they still make those?), you won't find this on there. It's a makeup game of one rained out May 17 in Atlanta. Both sides can't be happy this day off was taken away as the Cubs are in a stretch of 23 straight games without an off day and the Braves will have had just one in a 37-day run. Really sucks for the Cubs as they fly in here, play and then fly to Philadelphia. Chicago might activate Kris Bryant, perhaps even by Wednesday. The Cubs WILL activate lefty Mike Montgomery (4-4, 3.62) off the DL. He hasn't pitched since Aug. 11 with shoulder inflammation. Atlanta's Mike Foltynewicz (10-8, 2.67) has allowed just five combined earned runs over his past five. He took a ND vs. the Cubs on May 15 (5 IP, 0 ER, 10 Ks). Daniel Murphy is 9-for-22 off him with three doubles.
Key trends: The Cubs are 1-5 in Montgomery's past six. The Braves are 4-0 in their last past four vs. the NL Central. The under is 6-2-1 in the Braves' past nine vs. a lefty.
Early lean: Braves and under.
Angels at Astros (-225, 8)
I'm sure you heard about Justin Verlander being charged $1 million on his bill in Beverly Hills recently by a waiter who was ticked that Verlander helped beat the Dodgers in the World Series - that charge was labeled "Dodger Killer," which was actually pretty funny. The hotel comped the entire meal. Good thing because the freaking pancakes alone cost $30 (Verlander can afford it). Guess I won't be eating in Beverly Hills anytime soon. Verlander (13-8, 2.72) won at the Angels on Saturday, allowing three runs over six. His ERA is 4.26 since the break, though. Mike Trout is just 4-for-32 with two homers off Verlander. Angels lefty Andrew Heaney (7-8, 4.25) last to Houston last Friday, allowing five runs over six. After a nice first few months, Heaney seems to have hit a wall. Jose Altuve is 4-for-14 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Angels are 1-7 in the past eight meetings and 1-7 in Heaney's past eight road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 10-4 in the previous 14 in Houston.
Early lean: Astros on runline and under.
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