Free MLB Picks for Friday, July 12, 2019
The Mets obviously have had some great players over the years, but slugging first baseman Pete Alonso is on pace to have by far the best rookie season of any Mets position player. He enters the second half tied for second in the National League with 30 homers, which already are a Mets single-season record overall for a rookie. Oh, and Alonso even won the Home Run Derby on Monday night in an entertaining showdown against fellow rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (he was ridiculous) of the Toronto Blue Jays. Alonso also ranks third in the NL with 68 RBIs. A rare bright spot in another lousy season in Queens. Bovada has finally released some Rookie of the Year odds, and Alonso is the -180 favorite in the NL with San Diego's Fernando Tatis Jr. second at +250. In the American League, Tampa Bay's Brandon Lowe, who can play several positions, is the +135 favorite. He was named an All-Star but missed the game with a bruised shin. The Rays are likely to activate him Saturday. Guerrero Jr. is +300.
Pirates at Cubs (-150, TBA)
Per usual when the Cubs are home on a Friday, it's a 2:20 p.m. ET start and on the MLB Network. Here's an amazing statistic: Yu Darvish signed with the Cubs before the 2018 season yet still has never won a game at Wrigley Field, going 0-6 with a 5.91 ERA in 13 career starts on the North Side of Chicago. He's 0-3 there with a 6.23 ERA in 2019. Darvish is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two 2019 starts vs. Pittsburgh. All-Star Josh Bell is 2-for-5 with a homer off him. The Bucs' Chris Archer (3-6, 5.49), another disappointing once-good pitcher, hasn't gone more than five innings in four straight starts and taken a no-decision in each - but Pittsburgh won them all. Archer's last start vs. the break was home vs. the Cubs and he allowed three runs over five. Javier Baez is 7-for-12 with a homer against him.
Key trends: The Bucs are 3-8 in Archer's past 11 on the road. The "over/under" is 4-1 in Darvish's past five against the NL Central.
Early lean: Darvish gets that first home win.
Nationals at Phillies (+113, 9)
Since May 24, the team with the best record in baseball? That would be the Washington Nationals, who have jumped the Phillies (albeit by just a half-game) for second place in the NL East. The Nats could keep rolling as they have their three aces lined up for this series. It's Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 3.64) on Friday. He has won six of his past seven outings and comes off a dominant start vs. Miami, throwing 7.1 shutout innings with a season-high 14 strikeouts. He pitched in Philly on April 9 and allowed six runs in four innings in a no-decision. JT Realmuto is a career .393 hitter off him in 28 at-bats. Philadelphia's Nick Pivetta (4-3, 5.84) is 0-2 with a 7.33 ERA in his past four starts and 0-2 with a 13.00 ERA this year vs. the Nats. Anthony Rendon eats his lunch, going 10-for-18 with four homers and three doubles.
Key trends: The Nats are 18-4 in Strasburg's past 22 vs. the Phillies. The over is 6-1 in Pivetta's previous seven against Washington.
Early lean: Nats and over.
Twins at Indians (-115, 9)
Perhaps Cleveland won't be a seller after all as it is on an MLB-high six-game winning streak and has cut Minnesota's one-huge lead in the AL Central to just 5.5 games. The Tribe go with Mike Clevinger (2-2, 4.44) on Friday. He has been limited to five starts this year due to injury but comes off six shutout innings in Kansas City. Clevinger hasn't seen the Twins in 2019 but is 2-2 against them with a 3.05 ERA in 10 total appearances. Max Kepler is just 2-for-17 against him. Minnesota's Kyle Gibson (8-4, 4.09) makes his first 2019 outing against the Tribe and is 3-3 with a 4.47 ERA on the road this year. Jason Kipnis hammers him, batting .424 with 11 walks in 33 at-bats.
Key trends: The Twins are 2-5 in their past seven on the road. The under is 5-1 in Clevinger's previous six against Minnesota.
Early lean: Indians and under.
Astros at Rangers (-178, 8.5)
The players on these two teams are likely ticked at MLB's schedule-makers because they were the only clubs to play Thursday night, thus getting one fewer day off during the break. Houston's Yuli Gurriel took a five-game homer streak into Thursday - the MLB record, held by three guys, is eight consecutive games. It's All-Star Gerrit Cole (9-5, 3.09) for the Astros, although he didn't pitch Tuesday in Cleveland. Manager AJ Hinch has decided to split up Cole and Justin Verlander, who started Tuesday's ASG, in the rotation for the second half. Cole has been pitching great for about two months but is 1-2 with a 6.61 ERA this year in three starts vs. Texas. The Rangers' Jesse Chavez (3-4, 3.30) has a 7.20 ERA in five innings this year vs. Houston. Gurriel has two homers in 13 at-bats off him.
Key trends: The Astros are 5-2 in Cole's past seven vs. Texas. The under is 10-1-1 in the Rangers' past 12 on Friday.
Early lean: Astros and over.
Braves at Padres (+104, 8.5)
It's lefty Dallas Keuchel (2-2, 3.60) for the Braves, a guy the Padres also looked into signing as a free agent last month. Keuchel has made four starts as a National Leaguer and alternated losses and wins in them. He appears to be getting stronger, allowing two runs over a season-high 7.1 innings last time out vs. Miami. Having spent his career in the AL, not many Padres have seen him. Ian Kinsler has by far the most, batting .306 with a homer in 36 at-bats. San Diego's Dinelson Lamet returned from Tommy John surgery and made his first big-league start since Sept. 26, 2017, on Independence Day, allowing three runs over five with seven strikeouts in a loss to the Dodgers. He'll obviously be on a pitch count for a while.
Key trends: The Padres are 1-11 in Lamet's past 12 vs. teams with a winning record. The under has hit in all four Keuchel starts.
Early lean: Braves and under.
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