Daily Expert MLB Picks: Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, Opening Line Report
Unless I have an uncle or aunt or something whom I don't know about to bequeath me a billion-dollar inheritance, I'm clearly never going to be a GM of an MLB team. If I was, I can assure you I would never, ever give a long-term mega-rich contract to a starting pitcher. The failure rate of those is probably 98 percent. The latest would be Felix Hernandez, who got a seven-year, $175 million extension in 2013 with the Mariners. At the time, it didn't look that terrible because King Felix was just 27 - but an old 27 with all those innings on his arm. The human shoulder/elbow isn't supposed to throw a baseball 95 mph-plus 250 times a week (including warmups) or so. Injuries and regression really started hitting Hernandez in 2016, and now he's simply not a good pitcher any longer yet due almost $28 million in 2019. This past week, the Mariners pulled the plug on Hernandez by demoting him to the bullpen - stunning in a way for a team fighting for a wild-card spot. I can't remember a former Cy Young winner like this being shifted to the bullpen long term. Seattle could end the majors' longest playoff drought this year, and one of the faces of its franchise this decade may well not appear in the game.
Brewers at Cubs ( -151, TBA )
Only matinee of the day at 2:20 p.m. ET on the MLB Network and on the ESPN+ streaming. Milwaukee's Jhoulys Chacin (11-4, 3.91) has been a huge free-agent surprise for the Brewers. He was destroyed two starts ago at the Dodgers, allowing a season-high nine runs in 4.1 innings, but bounced back Wednesday with six innings of three-run ball in a win over the Padres. He beat the Cubs on June 13 with six shutout innings. Anthony Rizzo has had success off him, going 5-for-13 with two solo shots. Inconsistent Cubs lefty Jose Quintana (10-8, 4.28) seems to alternate strong starts with lousy ones. It was the latter Wednesday at a bad Kansas City team, allowing five runs over 6.1 innings. Quintana is 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA in three starts this year against Milwaukee. Jesus Aguilar might get the game off as he's only 2-for-17 with eight Ks off him.
Key trends: The Cubs are 4-0 in Quintana's past four vs. Milwaukee. The "over/under" has gone under in four of his past five against them. The Brewers have lost seven straight vs. NL Central teams.
Early lean: Cubs.
Mets at Orioles (-105, 9)
The Toilet Bowl series with the two most disappointing teams in the majors. New York adds the DH. It's lefty Jason Vargas (2-8, 8.75) for the Mets. If you are betting the Mets in any of his starts, you just aren't paying attention. Vargas allowed three runs in a third of an inning last time out vs. the Reds, leaving after a lengthy weather delay. It was his shortest outing in 240 career big-league starts. Baltimore's Mark Trumbo is just 4-for-21 with 12 strikeouts off him career. The Orioles' Andrew Cashner (3-10, 4.83) was obliterated two starts ago in Texas but bounced back by giving up just one earned over seven Wednesday at Tampa Bay. Todd Frazier has seen him the most of any Met, going 5-for-13 with five doubles.
Key trends: The Mets are 2-9 in their past 11 interleague road games. The Orioles are 5-1 in their past six at home vs. teams with a losing road record. The over is 9-3 in the Mets' past 12 interleague road games vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Orioles and over.
Rockies at Astros (-200, 7.5)
Do you know what an immaculate inning is? It's when a pitcher needs only nine pitches to strike out the side. Pretty rare. Colorado's German Marquez (9-9, 4.69) had one Wednesday vs. Pittsburgh in the fourth but took the loss, allowing three runs and 10 hits over six. It was Marquez's sixth quality start in his past seven. It's his first career look at Houston. The Astros' Justin Verlander (11-7, 2.50) allowed six runs (three homers) over two innings Thursday vs. the Mariners and was ejected after arguing with the home-plate umpire in between innings. Mr. Kate Upton apparently was ticked about an earlier balk call. Colorado's Charlie Blackmon is 3-for-9 with a homer against Verlander. The Rockies will add the DH.
Key trends: The Rockies are 6-2 in Marquez's past eight road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Astros are 2-6 in Verlander's past eight at home. The under is 8-3 in his previous 11 vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Rockies on runline and under.
Red Sox at Phillies (+136, 9)
Boston loses the DH, but presumably AL MVP favorite J.D. Martinez will play the outfield. It's a possible World Series preview, although I rather doubt the Phillies get there. The Red Sox go with Rick Porcello (14-5, 4.17). As you can see with that win total and ERA, he gets a lot of run support. Porcello wasn't good Thursday in Toronto, allowing seven runs in four innings in a loss. Perhaps he was a bit gassed from a complete game the start prior. Philadelphia's Carlos Santana is a .293 hitter off him with three homers in 41 at-bats. The Phillies' Nick Pivetta (7-9, 4.51) blanked Arizona on five hits over six innings last Tuesday. No Boston batter has more than three career at-bats off him.
Key trends: The Red Sox are 10-2 in their past 12 interleague games vs. teams with a winning record. The Phils are 11-5 in Pivetta's past 16 at home. The over is 5-1 in his past six there.
Early lean: Phillies and over.
Giants at Dodgers (-185, 8)
Los Angeles will be without closer Kenley Jansen for about the next month as he receives treatment for an irregular heartbeat. He was hospitalized prior to the Dodgers' win over the Rockies in Denver on Thursday. He dealt with the issue back in 2011 & '12 as well. San Francisco is expected to welcome back first baseman Brandon Belt from the DL for this one. He has been out since late last month with a hyperextended left knee. The Dodgers go with lefty Alex Wood (7-6, 3.58), who will be activated off the DL. He was dealing with left adductor tendinitis, whatever that is. He spent the minimum 10 days on the DL. Wood is 1-1 with a 2.29 ERA in three starts this year vs. the Giants. San Francisco southpaw Andrew Suarez (4-8, 4.64) has lost back-to-back starts, lasting only five innings in both. The rookie hasn't faced the Dodgers.
Key trends: The Giants are 1-4 in their past five at the Dodgers. The under is 20-7 in the past 27 meetings there.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
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