Daily Expert MLB Picks: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, Opening Line Report
The American League playoffs are a little less interesting (and draw worse ratings and less betting action) when neither the Yankees nor Red Sox are involved. They are the two most popular and successful franchises in the American League. While I wouldn't call the Cardinals and Dodgers the most popular teams in the Senior Circuit (that would be the Cubs), they are clearly the two most successful, and the NL playoffs aren't as interesting when they both miss. That hasn't happened since 2010 - the Dodgers have been in the postseason every year since 2013, and the Cardinals were every year from 2011-15 but not since. It's quite possible it happens this year. Neither would be in as things stand. The Cardinals probably aren't winning the NL Central with the Cubs in it, but the Dodgers have both the NL West and wild-card routes to the postseason. A Cardinals-Dodgers wild-card game would be ratings gold.
Yankees at Marlins ( +220, 8 )
New York loses the designated hitter, and of course this is Giancarlo Stanton's return to Miami. The Fish don't draw flies but should get a nice crowd for this series both because of Stanton and half of south Florida seemingly from New York. The Yanks are going to be without shortstop Didi Gregorius for a bit as he left Sunday's game with a bruised left heel suffered in a collision at first base. He probably lands on the DL by the time you read this. New York's Masahiro Tanaka (9-4, 4.03) has lost his past two. One of the biggest upsets of this season from a moneyline perspective was when Tanaka allowed seven runs in five innings in a loss to the Marlins on April 17. Miami rookie Pablo Lopez (2-3, 4.79) makes his ninth career start. He was still in the minors when the Marlins and Yankees played in April.
Key trends: The Yankees are 7-1 in Tanaka's past eight following a quality start in his most recent appearance. The Marlins are 1-7 in their past eight series openers. The "over/under" is 8-2 in Tanaka's previous 10 road starts vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Indians at Red Sox (-142, 9)
MLB Network game and potential playoff preview. There's a chance that Tribe DH Edwin Encarnacion could be activated off the DL for this game. He has been out with a bruised right hand and strained left biceps. Indians rookie Shane Bieber (6-2, 4.37) lasted only 4.1 innings Wednesday in Cincinnati, allowing three runs and seven hits but did avoid a loss. He hasn't faced Boston. The Red Sox's Nathan Eovaldi (5-4, 3.62) allowed one earned run Wednesday over five in Philadelphia in a no-decision. He hasn't personally lost in four starts since coming over from Tampa Bay. Eovaldi is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in his career against Cleveland. Yonder Alonso is 3-for-10 with two doubles off him. Yan Gomes 4-for-8.
Key trends: The Red Sox are 9-2 in their past 11 vs. the AL Central. The under is 4-0 in Bieber's past four.
Early lean: Red Sox and over.
Cubs at Tigers (+167, 9)
Bad news for the Cubs, who add the DH for this one - it surely will be Kyle Schwarber because he's not a very good defensive left fielder. Yu Darvish left his rehab start Sunday after one inning with some pain in his arm. You can all but write him off for the rest of 2018 and a second Tommy John surgery could be coming. It's Kyle Hendricks (9-9, 4.11) here. The Cubs have won his past four, although he wasn't particularly good in two of them. Hendricks took a no-decision vs. Detroit on July 3 (5 IP, 3 ER). The Tigers' Jordan Zimmermann (5-5, 4.36) was shelled by the other Chicago team last time out, allowing six runs and nine hits over five vs. the White Sox. He missed the Cubs in the first series. Anthony Rizzo is 5-for-12 with a homer off him.
Key trends: The Cubs are 1-4 in Hendricks' past five road starts vs. teams with a losing record. The Tigers are 2-7 in their previous nine following an off day. The under is 10-2 in Hendricks' past 12 interleague starts.
Early lean: Tigers and under.
Twins at White Sox (+121, 9)
Tuesday could be a day that White Sox fans circle as to when that franchise started its ascent to playoff contention again. That's because arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball, Michael Kopech, makes his big-league debut. He and Yoan Moncada were the key pieces back from Boston in the Chris Sale trade. Moncada has moderately disappointed. Kopech once hit 105 mph on the gun and is given an 80 grade from scouts on his fastball - that's the highest possible grade and it's rare you see a player get an 80 in anything. Kopech, 22, is 7-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 24 starts this season at Triple-A Charlotte. His problem had been a bit of wildness but he seems to have fixed that of late with a 4-0 record and 1.84 ERA in his past seven starts. The Sox should get a nice bump in attendance Tuesday. Minnesota's Jose Berrios (11-8, 3.75) is 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in three starts this year vs. Chicago.
Key trends: The Twins have won five straight in Game 2 of a series. The under is 4-0 in their past four on Tuesday. The under is 6-1-1 in the past eight meetings.
Early lean: White Sox and under.
Cardinals at Dodgers (-155, 8)
Late-night ESPN game. This was to be Luke Weaver's start but he has been demoted to the bullpen. Taking his place is the guy with the best name in the majors, rookie Daniel Poncedeleon (0-0, 2.04). You may remember his MLB debut on July 23 as he threw seven no-hit innings in Cincinnati - and then cruelly was sent right back down to the minors. The 26-year-old was recalled fairly soon, though, and has pitched solely out of the bullpen since. Poncedeleon hasn't faced the Dodgers. L.A. lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-0, 1.77) returned from a long stint on the DL and shut out the Giants on three hits over six on Wednesday. Jedd Gyorko has faced him the most of any Cardinal but is 0-for-12.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 9-3 in their past 12 at home vs. a right-hander. The under is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
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