Daily Expert MLB Picks: Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, Opening Line Report
Now we are starting to get clarity on just how dysfunctional the Washington Nationals have been this season - somewhere, former manager Dusty Baker is chuckling to himself. A few weeks ago, GM Mike Rizzo decided to designate reliever Shawn Kelly for assignment, eventually trading him to Oakland for an old VHS tape of Bull Durham (or something). At the time, Rizzo said Kelley was DFA'd because he threw his glove like a little baby on the mound after allowing a homer in a blowout win over the Mets. Rizzo thought Kelley was showing up his manager. Now reports are that Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley and that the argument became heated, almost leading to blows. Isn't that somewhat Rizzo taking the legs out from his manager Dave Martinez? Kelley has maintained all along that his frustration was with the umpiring, not with Martinez. I was pretty sure Martinez would be fired after this season if the Nats don't turn things around. I still am. Now, I think Rizzo is going too.
Twins at White Sox ( -115, 8.5 )
Not much has gone right for the White Sox this year, but he team has to feel good about lefty pitcher Carlos Rodon (4-3, 2.69). He got a late start to the year due to injury but has been largely excellent since his debut June 9. Chicago has won his past three and Rodon has allowed only three earned runs and 12 hits over 22 innings in that stretch. It's his first 2018 look at Minnesota. Miguel Sano is 1-for-11 off him with a homer and six RBIs. The Twins' Kyle Gibson (7-9, 3.51) has won back-to-back starts and gone seven innings in each. He's 0-1 with a 5.27 ERA in two starts this year against the Pale Hose. Jose Abreu is 8-for-32 off him with two dingers. Yoan Moncada 3-for-7 with two doubles.
Key trends: The Sox are 5-1 in Rodon's past six vs. the Twins. The "over/under" has gone under in five straight Gibson starts in Chicago.
Early lean: White Sox and under.
Rangers at A's (-180, 9)
Facebook Watch game at 3:35 p.m. ET. It's surprising Edwin Jackson (4-2, 2.58) on the mound for Oakland, he of the MLB-record-tying 13 career teams. I honestly thought Jackson was dead or something until he debuted this year with Oakland on June 25. Just stunning how well the 34-year-old has pitched. He had a streak of 22.1 scoreless innings snapped last time out when he surrendered two runs over five against Houston. Jackson's worst start this year was at the Rangers on July 25 (4.1 IP, 5 ER). He actually never played for them. Shin-Soo Choo hits .355 off him in 31 at-bats. Texas lefty Mike Minor (9-6, 4.61) is still a candidate to be traded by the end of the month. Contending teams always are looking for solid lefties. Minor took a ND vs. Oakland on July 24 (5 IP, 2 ER). Jonathan Lucroy is 5-for-11 against Minor with a homer.
Key trends: The Rangers are 1-6 in Minor's past seven vs. the AL West. The A's are 18-4 in their past 22 vs. lefties. The under is 7-1-2 in Jackson's past 10.
Early lean: A's and over.
Astros at Mariners (+128, 8.5)
ESPN+ streamed game at 4 p.m. ET. Nice pitching matchup here. Houston's Charlie Morton (12-3, 2.85) has just one victory in his past six but that's been largely because the Astros aren't scoring for him. He allowed an earned run over five Friday in Oakland. Morton is 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA in three starts this year vs. the Mariners. Denard Span is 6-for-13 career off him. Kyle Seager just 2-for-16. Seattle lefty Marco Gonzales (12-8, 3.91) might be hitting the wall as he has lost three straight and surrendered at least four runs in each. He had been 5-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his five starts prior to that. He lost to Houston on April 19 (4.2 IP, 3 ER). Jose Altuve is 0-for-1 off him - Altuve was potentially going to be activated off the DL as early as Tuesday.
Key trends: The Astros are 2-6 in Morton's past eight vs. teams with a winning record. The Mariners are 7-2 in Gonzales' past nine vs. the AL West. The under is 5-1 in Morton's past six vs. Seattle.
Early lean: Astros and under.
Phillies at Nationals (-173, 8.5)
MLB Network game. If Washington is going to make a move, Wednesday is a potentially huge day. That's because Stephen Strasburg returns from the DL, and if he can actually stay healthy and pitch to his talent then no team will want to face the Nationals in the postseason. Strasburg (6-7, 3.90) last pitched July 20 and was hammered for six runs in 4.2 innings to see his season ERA rise about half a run. He didn't take a rehab start but did throw a simulated game last week. Strasburg hasn't faced Philadelphia this year. Maikel Franco is 6-for-20 off him with a homer. Philly's Zach Eflin (9-4, 3.70) beat the Mets last time out, giving up four runs over 6.2 innings. He won in D.C. on June 22 (5 IP, 2 ER).
Key trends: The Nats are 16-5 in Strasburg's past 21 vs. the Phillies. The under is 4-0 in his previous four against them.
Early lean: Nationals and under.
Cardinals at Dodgers (-157, 8)
ESPN late game. Nice matchup of very promising rookie right-handers here. The Cardinals' Jack Flaherty (7-6, 3.05) probably finishes third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting if it was taken right now. He has allowed just two runs and nine hits over 19 innings in his past three starts, all wins. Flaherty will surely be jacked up for this one as he grew up in the L.A. area and was a huge Dodgers fan. Los Angeles' Walker Buehler (6-4, 3.19) also has been excellent lately, giving up four combined runs over his past four. It's his first look at St. Louis. Both these guys actually debuted last year but didn't pitch many innings and thus kept rookie status.
Key trends: The Cards have lost four straight Flaherty Wednesday starts. The Dodgers are 4-1 in Buehler's past five at home. The under is 7-1 in Buehler's past eight at home.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Get all of Today's Free MLB Picks
Get all of Today's Expert MLB Picks