Daily Expert MLB Picks: Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, Opening Line Report
This writer rather doubts we will see another manager fired during the 2018 MLB season because there's really no point this late in the year - unless something off-the-field surfaces for some manager a la Urban Meyer. That said, it sounds like there will be at least one opening immediately after the season: Toronto. Ken Rosenthal, as plugged in as anyone, says that it's all but a done deal that the Jays will move on from John Gibbons. He led the team to the ALCS in 2015-16, but Toronto will finish with a losing record for a second straight season and likely will transition to a young team in 2019 with two of the best prospects in baseball knocking on the door in third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (whom we could see in September) and shortstop Bo Bichette. Yes, their fathers are who you think they are. I'm sure Joe Girardi's name will be linked to this opening just as it will be any other.
Braves at Nationals ( -131, 9 )
Series finale on Facebook Watch at 1:05 p.m. ET. I don't understand what the Nationals are doing. They traded away two good relievers in Brandon Kintzler (Cubs) and Shawn Kelley (A's) but then just signed Greg Holland, who had been an absolute gas can this season with the Cardinals before being released. Holland was very good the first half of last year with Colorado but has fallen off a cliff since. Atlanta starts Anibal Sanchez (6-3, 2.89). He continued his surprising season with a win at the Mets on Friday, allowing one run over six - his sixth straight outing of at least six. He's 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 16 innings vs. Washington this year. Adam Eaton is 7-for-18 with two homers off him. Daniel Murphy 8-for-16 with a dinger. Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez (6-8, 4.04) continues to trend the wrong way as he was shelled for six runs and 10 hits over 3.2 innings Saturday vs. the Reds. In his last 11 starts, he has posted a 6.37 ERA. He took a no-decision in in Atlanta on June 2 (7 IP, 3 ER).
Key trends: The Nats are 6-13 in Gonzalez's past 19 vs. the Braves. The "over/under" has gone under in seven of his past 10 at home. The under is 5-2 in Sanchez's past seven.
Early lean: Braves and under.
Twins at Indians (-220, 8)
Good pitching matchup of All-Stars here. Minnesota's Jose Berrios (11-8, 3.51) gave up two runs over five hits Saturday in a win over Kansas City. He has tended of late to alternate good starts and bad and has been way better at home (2.95 ERA) than the road (4.30 ERA). Berrios is 1-0 with 2.77 ERA in his two starts this year vs. the Tribe. MVP candidate Jose Ramirez is 4-for-16 off him. Cleveland's Corey Kluber (14-6, 2.63) dominated the Angels on Saturday, throwing a complete-game three-hitter with seven strikeouts vs. one walk. He's 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA this season vs. the Twins. Joe Mauer is a career .296 against him in 54 at-bats. Logan Morrison just 4-for-24 with nine Ks.
Key trends: The Twins are 4-1 in Berrios' past five vs. Cleveland, which is 1-4 in Kluber's past five at home vs. Minnesota. The under is 5-1 in Berrios' past six on the road.
Early lean: Twins on runline and under.
Padres at Brewers (-160, 8.5)
Last meeting of the season between these clubs with a 2 p.m. ET first pitch. Padres lefty Robbie Erlin (2-3, 3.34) has made 30 appearances this season but only three starts after missing all of last year following Tommy John surgery. He last pitched Aug. 2 in place of the injured Luis Perdomo at the Cubs and allowed one run and two hits over five in the victory. That earned Erlin another starting gig. He allowed two runs over 3.2 innings on March 31 vs. Milwaukee. Christian Yelich is 3-for-5 against him. The Brewers' Junior Guerra (6-7, 3.42) pitched a season-high eight innings last time out vs. the Rockies and surrendered three runs in a no-decision. He didn't face the Padres in the earlier series.
Key trends: The Padres are 1-5 in Erlin's past six on the road. The Brewers have won five straight Guerra home starts. The under is 5-1 in his previous six there.
Early lean: Brewers and under.
Rangers at Yankees (-215, 9.5)
ESPN+ game. Lefty J.A. Happ (11-6, 4.05) remains on track to rejoin the Yankees' rotation; he was originally set to make his second start since coming over from Toronto on Saturday but instead was placed on the DL with an illness. That was more to keep him away from his teammates. Happ allowed one run over six in his Yankees debut on July 29 vs. Kansas City. While with the Jays, he beat Texas on April 29 (7 IP, 2 ER). Elvis Andrus is 0-for-10 against him. The Rangers' Ariel Jurado (2-1, 4.02) is a 22-year-old rookie who has made three starts. His first at the White Sox wasn't great but his past two in Houston and vs. Baltimore were very solid.
Key trends: The Rangers are 7-3 in their past 10 at the Yankees. The over is 4-0 in the past four meetings.
Early lean: Rangers on runline and over.
Mariners at Astros (-145, 7)
Houston is now without three of its best players as George Springer has joined Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve on the DL (along with starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. and catcher Brian McCann). The good news is that Correa could be activated as early as this game. Great pitching matchup here between aces. Mariners lefty James Paxton (9-5, 3.51) lost to Toronto on Saturday (the team he no-hit earlier in the year), allowing three runs over seven. He has dominated Houston in 2018 with a 3-0 record and 0.87 ERA. Correa, if he's back, is 8-for-21 off him with two doubles. He's about the only Astro with good numbers vs. Paxton. Houston's Justin Verlander (11-6, 2.19) won at the Dodgers on Friday (7.2 IP, 1 ER, 14 Ks). Seattle's Kyle Seager is 8-for-25 with three doubles and three homers off Verlander, who somehow has avoided the M's in 2018.
Key trends: The Mariners are 5-1 in Paxton's past six vs. Houston. The under is 5-1 in those.
Early lean: Mariners and under.
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