Free MLB Picks for Friday, August 23, 2019
Sometimes I am reminded of how ridiculous the consecutive games streak accomplished by Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. really was. I say that in the wake of the Houston Astros sending former No. 1 overall pick and a shortstop with Hall of Fame talent, Carlos Correa, back to the injured list this week. He missed two months earlier this month when his rib was fractured during a massage - can you imagine Ripken Jr. sitting out a game for that reason? This time, Correa is dealing with back discomfort. You don't want to stick the 24-year-old Correa with the injury-prone tag this early in his career … but has hasn't played more than 110 games since 2016. Correa was hitting .278 with 19 home runs and 56 RBIs in 72 games. Starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez joined Correa on the injured list. These injuries won't affect Houston winning the AL West again, but it absolutely could in terms of getting the potential No. 1 overall seed in the MLB playoffs or at least the No. 1 in the American League over the Yankees.
Nationals at Cubs (-129, TBA)
Potentially a playoff preview. MLB Network has the 2:20 p.m. ET telecast, per usual the Cubbies at home the only matinee on a Friday. Washington's Anibal Sanchez (7-6, 3.99) has been shockingly good for weeks but was roughed up last time out against the Brewers, allowing five runs and eight hits over four - but avoided a loss. Expect Jonathan Lucroy behind the plate for the Cubs as he's 4-for-9 with two homers career off Sanchez. Chicago lefty Jon Lester (10-8, 4.23) snapped out of a bit of a funk in his last start by blanking the Pirates on four hits over six. He did walk five and wildness has plagued Lester at times this year. Lester was blown up in Washington on May 18 (4.1 IP, 10 H, 5 ER). Anthony Rendon is 3-for-7 with two doubles off him.
Key trends: The Nats are 2-5 in Sanchez's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The "over/under" is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Cubs.
Braves at Mets (-165, 7.5)
Jacob deGrom can't possibly repeat as the NL Cy Young winner ... right? DeGrom (8-7, 2.61) started the season slowly but has been just as dominant as last year for months. He hasn't personally lost since June 28. He predictably won in Kansas City in his most recent outing, allowing one run and three hits over seven. DeGrom is 1-2 with a 3.72 ERA in three starts this year against the Braves. Ozzie Albies is just 4-for-29 off him with seven strikeouts. Atlanta's Mike Foltynewicz (4-5, 6.09) lasted 4.2 innings Saturday vs. the Dodgers, giving up two runs and seven hits. Partly due to injuries, he has avoided New York this year. Todd Frazier is 1-for-13 off him with seven strikeouts.
Key trends: The Mets are 2-7 in deGrom's past seven vs. Atlanta. The under is 5-1-1 in those.
Early lean: Mets and under.
Angels at Astros (-290, 9.5)
It's almost tough to remember that Zack Greinke once pitched for the Angels. He was dealt right before the 2012 trade deadline from Milwaukee to the Halos. The Halos sent back Jean Segura (turned out to be a good player) and two minor-league pitchers. Greinke was pretty good in his 13 regular-season starts with the Angels but then signed with the crosstown Dodgers after the year. Greinke (13-4, 2.84) has made three starts with Houston since being traded from Arizona and all three have been quality and Astros wins. Justin Upton hits him well, going 11-for-31 with three homers. L.A.'s Griffin Canning (5-6, 4.58) was set to go and has had a very solid rookie season. However, he's almost surely done for the year after being put on the injured list with elbow inflammation on Wednesday. No chance the Halos risk pitching him again with them out of the playoff chase. Lefty Jose Suarez (2-4, 6.75) will start in Canning's place.
Key trends: The Angels are 1-7 in their past eight in Houston. The over is 7-3-2 in the previous 12 meetings.
Early lean: Astros on runline and over.
Yankees at Dodgers (-142, 9)
Obviously the series of the weekend if not the season, and we'll address it more on Saturday's Opening Line Report. It's a matchup of southpaws. NL Cy Young favorite Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-3, 1.64) of the Dodgers comes off arguably his second-worst start of the year, allowing four runs and six hits over 5.2 innings off a loss in Atlanta. Not too many Yankees have seen the career National Leaguer. DJ LeMahieu has the most, going 2-for-16. New York's James Paxton (9-6, 4.53) won his fourth straight start Saturday, allowing four runs over five against Cleveland. Not too many Dodgers have seen the career American Leaguer. Russell Martin is 1-for-9 off him.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 24-5 in their past 29 at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The under has hit in eight straight Yankees games at NL teams with winning records.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
Blue Jays at Mariners (+104, 9.5)
This has been a lousy season for the Mariners, but they have beefed up the farm system over the past year-plus with some trades. Last winter, they sent starting pitcher James Paxton to the Yankees for a package headed by New York's top pitching prospect, Justus Sheffield. He will make his big-league starting debut here. The lefty did pitch three innings of relief back in April against Texas, allowing two runs and walking four. He was 7-9 with a 4.13 ERA in the minors this season between Double-A and Triple-A. Toronto counters with Trent Thornton (4-8, 5.30). He faced these Mariners last week and took a no-decision, allowing three runs and five hits over six. Austin Nola went yard off him.
Key trends: The Jays are 1-5 in Thornton's past six series openers. The over has hit in his past seven on the road.
Early lean: Mariners and over.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Get all of Today's MLB Picks
Get all of Today's Guaranteed Expert MLB Picks