Daily Expert MLB Picks: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, Opening Line Report
One start isn't likely going to win or lose anyone the Cy Young Award - OK, there are exceptions to every rule. I suppose if a top contender went out and struck out all 27 batters in a perfect game he might clinch it, or he might lose it if he allowed 15 runs in a third of an inning. But you get my drift. That said, Tuesday's matchup between top NL Cy Young contenders Aaron Nola of Philadelphia and Max Scherzer of Washington could be what really resonates in the mind of voters as it could well be the last time they square off against one another. Should one of them dominate, he perhaps becomes the clear front-runner. The Mets' Jacob deGrom is still in the picture, but his team is so bad that some voters probably won't pick him. The fact that Washington has thrown in the towel on this season certainly doesn't help Scherzer's cause to win a third straight Cy Young and fourth overall.
Nationals at Phillies ( +105, 6.5 )
It's the only national broadcast of the day on the MLB Network. Nola (15-3, 2.13) may have pushed ahead in the Cy Young race when he outdueled Scherzer last Thursday by shutting out Washington on five hits with nine strikeouts over eight innings. Nola has allowed just one run over his past three outings combined and has a 1.59 ERA in his past 11 overall. Bryce Harper hits him fairly well, going 9-for-27 with two homers career. Scherzer (16-6, 2.13) still leads the NL in wins, strikeouts and WHIP and is third in ERA; pretty sure anytime that a pitcher won the "Triple Crown" (leading in wins, ERA and Ks) that he also won the Cy Young. Scherzer allowed two runs over seven on Thursday with 10 strikeouts. The Nats are 6-0 all-time when Scherzer has started at Citizens Bank Park, and he has a 1.65 ERA. Justin Bour can't hit the guy, going 5-for-35 with 13 strikeouts.
Key trends: The Phillies are 9-1 in Nola's past 10 vs. the NL East. The "over/under" has gone under in his past six vs. Washington.
Early lean: Phillies and under.
White Sox at Yankees (-265, 9.5)
Think I've said this the past four times that James Shields (5-15, 4.59) has taken the mound, but I actually do think this will be his final start in a White Sox uniform as Shields is likely to be traded by the Aug. 31 deadline. The Pale Hose won't get much more than salary relief. Shields was rocked last time out in Detroit, surrendering seven runs and 10 hits over 6.2 innings. He hasn't faced the Yankees in 2018. Giancarlo Stanton is 3-for-14 with a homer career off him. New York's Lance Lynn (8-9, 4.84) was very strong in his first three outings with the team after coming over from Minnesota but has allowed five earned in his of his past two. He blanked the White Sox on two hits over 7.1 innings on Aug. 6. Tim Anderson is 2-for-7 with a double off him.
Key trends: The Sox are 3-14 in Shields' past 17 vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 4-1 in his previous five on the road.
Early lean: Yankees on runline and over.
A's at Astros (-192, 8.5)
Houston was expecting to activate outfielder George Springer from the DL for Monday's series opener between these two. Oakland's AL West hopes took a hit with ace Sean Manaea landing on the 10-day DL over the weekend with a left shoulder impingement. It's not clear how long he will actually miss, but obviously a shoulder issue is never a good thing for a pitcher. The A's go with Edwin Jackson (4-3, 2.97). He had been quite good but came back to earth a bit last time out, allowing four runs over 4.1 innings against Texas. He gave up two runs over five on Aug.17 in his lone outing vs. Houston. Martin Maldonado is 6-for-14 off him with two homers and seven RBIs. Houston's Charlie Morton (13-3, 3.05) could be fading a bit as he was knocked around for six runs over five in Seattle last Wednesday yet still got the win. He has a 2.89 ERA but no decisions in two starts vs. the A's this year.
Key trends: The A's are 9-19 in their past 28 in Houston. The under is 8-2 in Oakland's past 10 on the road.
Early lean: Astros on runline and over.
Mets at Cubs (-145, TBA)
DeGrom (8-8, 1.71) gets a chance to boost his Cy Young case at Wrigley. It's almost comical how little the Mets usually score for him. He allowed one earned run over six innings with 10 strikeouts Thursday vs. San Francisco and still lost. He has a 1.26 ERA this month but is only 3-2. DeGrom has a 7.20 ERA in two career starts at the Cubs. Jason Heyward is a .389 hitter against him in 18 at-bats. Chicago lefty Cole Hamels (9-9, 3.82) has been better than the front office could have even dreamed. He comes off a complete game vs. the Reds, allowing one run. Hamels has a 0.79 ERA in five starts since coming from Texas. The Mets' Jay Bruce is 7-for-32 off Hamels with two dingers.
Key trends: The Mets are 9-23 in their past 32 in Chicago. The under is 8-2 in the Cubs' past 10 vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Mets (and surely under).
Diamondbacks at Giants (-111, 7.5)
San Francisco has basically given up on the season by shutting down All-Star catcher Buster Posey for the year. He was going to need hip surgery regardless so better to do it now so he could potentially be ready by the start of next season. His timeline to recover is 6-8 months - the team might have to consider playing him at first base much more going forward. The Giants start ace lefty Madison Bumgarner (5-5, 2.88). He outdueled deGrom last Thursday in New York, allowing a run over eight innings. Bumgarner is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts this year vs. Arizona. The Snakes' Clay Buchholz (7-2, 2.25) shut out the Angels on four hits over seven in his last outing. He's in the NL Comeback Player of the Year conversation, although that probably goes to the Cardinals' Miles Mikolas.
Key trends: The Snakes are 4-1 in Buchholz's past five on the road. The under is 4-1 in those. It's 7-1 in the Giants' previous eight on Tuesday.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and under.
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