Free MLB Picks for Friday, April 26, 2019
We wrote about this in Thursday's Opening Line Report story, but feel it's important enough to address it again: the major-league debut of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Now it's official that the 20-year-old third baseman and No. 1 prospect in baseball will make his Toronto Blue Jays debut Friday in a series opener against the visiting Oakland A's. Manager Charlie Montoyo didn't say where Vlad Jr. would hit in the lineup, but it surely will be in the middle of the lineup. The son of Hall of Famer and former Expos legend Vladimir Guerrero had a career.331/.413/.531 slash line and 44 homers over parts of four minor-league seasons after signing with the Jays as a 16-year-old in July 2015. Regular third baseman Brandon Drury, who hasn't been hitting a lick, will move to second base. That spot became open because another young promising player (although not on Guerrero's level), Lourdes Gurriel Jr., was sent down in mid-April because he was struggling. The Jays still won't be very good this season but just got much more interesting, and expect a huge walk-up crowd in Toronto on Friday now that the Leafs' season is over.
Padres at Nationals (-168, 7.5)
Nationals ace and three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer has been incredibly durable in his Hall of Fame career. He tweaked his left intercostal after dodging a foul ball in Sunday's game but appears to have "dodged a bullet" and should start Friday after coming out of a side session Tuesday feeling fine. Scherzer (1-3, 4.45) hasn't quite looked like himself yet and comes off a very unusual start in Miami on April 20, allowing seven runs and 11 hits over 5.1 innings, although he did strike out nine. The Padres' Manny Machado is just 3-for-28 with 13 strikeouts vs. Scherzer. San Diego lefty Matt Strahm (0-2, 3.05) went a career-high eight innings last time out and allowed just two hits and a run vs. the Reds but took a no-decision. No National has more than three at-bats off him.
Key trends: The Nats are just 1-4 in Scherzer's past five at home, and Washington has lost eight straight following an off day. The "over/under" has gone under in seven of Strahm's past nine starts.
Early lean: Padres on runline and under.
Rays at Red Sox (-131, 8.5)
Tampa Bay just refuses to go away despite a few injuries hitting of late, including to red-hot outfielder Austin Meadows. He's likely to miss three weeks with a sprained right thumb, but the team got great news there wasn't a torn ligament. It's Charlie Morton (2-0, 3.38) here. He comes off his worst start of the early going, allowing five runs over six innings in a loss to the Red Sox. Walks have been an issue with 12 in 26.2 innings. Boston lefty David Price (1-1, 3.75) struck out a season-high 10 Rays in his last start but only lasted five innings and took a no-decision. He has been much better in his past two outings than his first two. Tampa's Avisail Garcia is 4-for-17 with a homer against him.
Key trends: The Sox are 5-1 in Price's past six vs. Tampa Bay and the under is 5-1 in those.
Early lean: Red Sox and under.
Reds at Cardinals (-154, 8.5)
Cincinnati has lost outfielder Matt Kemp to the injured list after a collision with the wall at Petco Park in San Diego earned him a broken rib. So, he's likely to miss quite a bit more than 10 days. Kemp has been terrible after being acquired in the offseason from Seattle, hitting just .200 with a .213 on-base percentage and one homer to 19 strikeouts. The Reds' Anthony DeSclafani (0-1, 5.59) comes off his best start of the year, allowing one run and two hits over six in San Diego. The start before that, he gave up four runs in four vs. the Cardinals in a ND. Matt Carpenter is a .409 hitter off him with three homers in 22 at-bats. St. Louis' Miles Mikolas (2-1, 4.97) hasn't been quite the same guy yet he was last year. He took a no-decision in Cincinnati on April 14 (5 IP, 3 ER). Joey Votto is 2-for-11 off him.
Key trends: The Reds are 7-3 in DeSclafani's past 10 vs. the Cards, while St. Louis has won Mikolas' previous four vs. Cincinnati. The under is 7-3 in DeSclafani's past 10 against the Cardinals.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
Rangers at Mariners (-168, 9)
ESPN+ late-night game. Texas is hoping to activate second baseman Rougned Odor on Friday from a knee injury. He was to play at Triple-A Nashville on Wednesday and Thursday and then get activated baring any setbacks. Odor was great this spring but was hitting just .167 over 42 regular-season at-bats. It's retread Shelby Miller (1-1, 7.63) for the Rangers, and he simply looks done. Batters are hitting .328 against Miller. Seattle's Dee Gordon is 8-for-25 off him. Mariners rookie lefty Yusei Kikuchi (1-1, 4.68) comes off his first win, although he wasn't great at the Angels in allowing 10 hits and four runs over five. It's his first look at Texas.
Key trends: The Rangers are 1-4 in their past five vs. a lefty. The over is 5-0 in Kikuchi's five starts.
Early lean: Mariners and over.
Yankees at Giants (+108, 7)
New York loses the designated hitter for this interleague matchup. The team has been largely rotating guys there with injuries to Giancarlo Stanton and so many others. Good matchup of southpaws. The Yankees' James Paxton (2-2, 3.10) hasn't allowed a run over his past two starts and just five hits with 24 strikeouts over 14 innings. David Cone (1998) is the only other Yankee to have back-to-back games of 12 or more strikeouts. That's hard to believe. The Giants' Evan Longoria is 1-for-3 with a homer off Paxton. San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner (1-3, 3.66) allowed four runs over six in Pittsburgh in his last outing. DJ LeMahieu has seen him the most of any currently healthy Yankee, batting .250 in 44 at-bats.
Key trends: The Giants have lost six straight Bumgarner season openers. The under is 12-3-2 in his past 17 at home.
Early lean: Giants and under.
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