Daily Expert MLB Picks: Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2018, Opening Line Report
Want to get a job with a Major League Baseball team? Become a social media expert. Much like the NFL can't seem to stay out of the news when it comes to the National Anthem, there appears to be a growing problem in MLB with guys whose past insensitive tweets are coming back to haunt them. News broke about some horrible tweets years ago by Milwaukee reliever Josh Hader during his appearance in the All-Star Game. Then over the weekend, similar tweets arose in the backgrounds of Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb (putting a major damper on the fact he just had the best start of his career and was one out from no-hitting the Dodgers) and Washington shortstop Trea Turner. I can promise you that front offices around baseball have or are in the midst of addressing this problem by hiring full-time social media people to both comb through guys' past stuff and also perhaps manage their current accounts to keep them out of trouble. Baseball can't really suspend these players for something they said as teenagers, but we haven't seen the last of this. Anyone who hasn't gone back in any walk of life and deleted any possible offensive tweets/Facebook posts of theirs is simply a moron. Of course, it's moronic to tweet/post that way in the first place.
Orioles at Yankees ( -280, 9 )
MLB Network game at 1:05 p.m. ET. I'm assuming that Sonny Gray (8-7, 5.08) will still be a Yankee on Wednesday afternoon. He has been much better in his past three but had to leave after five Thursday vs. Kansas City after getting hit by a comebacker on his right thumb. X-rays were clear, and he fully expects to go here. Gray is 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA this year in three starts against horrid Baltimore. Tim Beckham is 7-for-19 with two homers off him. Speaking of horrid, that has been the first season with the Orioles for Alex Cobb (2-14, 6.08). The Birds have lost his past six, but he has been moderately improved in the past couple. Cobb has managed to avoid the Yankees so far in 2018. Giancarlo Stanton is 1-for-8 off him with three Ks.
Key trends: The Yankees are 4-1 in Gray's past five vs. Baltimore. The "over/under is 3-1-1 in those five. The Birds are 1-6 in Cobb's past seven vs. the AL East.
Early lean: Yankees on runline and over.
Indians at Twins (+175, 9)
Facebook Watch game at 1:10 p.m. ET. Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco (12-5, 3.89) took a no-decision Friday in Detroit, allowing one earned over 6.1 innings - the Tribe won his fifth straight outing (one in relief). Carrasco is 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA in three starts this year against Minnesota (which probably has traded second baseman Brian Dozier by the time you read this). Joe Mauer is a career .406 hitter off Carrasco in 32 at-bats. This was to be Lance Lynn's start for the Twins, but he was dealt to the Yankees on Monday. No reason at all for Minnesota to keep the pending free agent. So, the team will move young lefty Adalberto Mejia (1-0, 3.65) back into the rotation surely for the rest of the year. He's made three appearances in the big leagues this season (two starts) and made 21 MLB starts last year. Cleveland's Jose Ramirez is 3-for-5 with two doubles off him.
Key trends: The Indians are 19-7 in Carrasco's past 26 vs. the AL Central. The over is 5-0 in his past five.
Early lean: Twins on runline and over.
Blue Jays at A's (-130, 8.5)
Another MLB Network game at 3:35 p.m. ET. Toronto is going to be without arguably the hottest hitter in baseball for a while: young second baseman Lourdes Gurriel. He suffered what looked like a potentially major knee injury Sunday but was diagnosed with a left knee contusion and a left ankle sprain after X-rays ruled out any fractures. It's the Blue Jays, so you might not have been paying much attention, but the guy had extended his streak of multi-hit games to 11 in a row before going down. He is one of only seven players since 1908 to have a multi-hit streak of at least 11 games. The Jays start Marcus Stroman (4-7, 5.20). He has begun to turn his season around, allowing two runs over 6.2 innings Friday at the White Sox. Oakland lefty Sean Manaea (9-7, 3.46) allowed three earned over five in Colorado on Friday. That's a 10th straight start giving up 3 ER or fewer.
Key trends: The Jays are 1-4 in Stroman's past five vs. the AL West. The A's are 9-4 in Manaea's past 13 vs. the AL East. The under is 8-3 in Manaea's past 11 at home.
Early lean: A's and under.
Cubs at Pirates (+107, 8.5)
MLB Network 7:05 p.m. ET start and the Cubs debut of lefty Cole Hamels. I believe that was a good move for Chicago even though Hamels was 5-9 with a 4.72 ERA this season with Texas. For one thing, going back to the easier National League will help. So will not pitching in the bandbox that is the Rangers' home ballpark, where Hamels is 1-7 with a 6.41 ERA this season compared to 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA on the road. Finally, Hamels has dominated in his career at Wrigley Field (that won't help here but still), including a no-hitter in his final start with the Phillies in 2015. At Pittsburgh's PNC Park, Hamels is 1-1 with a 1.22 ERA in five career starts. Starling Marte is 6-for-15 off him. Bucs rookie Nick Kingham (5-5, 4.80) is 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts vs. the Cubs. Jason Heyward is 3-for-6 off him with two doubles.
Key trends: The Pirates are 4-1 in their past five vs. a lefty. The over is 4-1 in Kingham's past five at home.
Early lean: Cubs and over.
Brewers at Dodgers (-160, 8)
Another MLB Network game at 10:10 p.m. ET - the only matchup on the schedule to start after 8:15. Milwaukee's Chase Anderson (7-7, 3.69) won for the first time since June 29 on Friday, allowing one run and four hits over 6.1 innings in San Francisco. He has a 1.93 ERA over his past seven outings. Matt Kemp has seen him more than any Dodger, going 8-for-22 with two homers and eight RBIs. Dodgers lefty Rich Hill (4-4, 3.82) threw seven shutout innings Thursday in Atlanta with eight strikeouts and only three hits allowed. The start before that, he largely shut down the Brewers (6 IP, 1 ER, 9 Ks). Christian Yelich has three doubles in seven at-bats off Hill.
Key trends: The Brewers are 6-14 in Anderson's past 20 road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Dodgers are 7-2 in Hill's past nine on five days of rest. The under is 13-3-3 in Anderson's past 17 on the road.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
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