Free MLB Picks for Friday, July 5, 2019
If you are a Yankees fan - and no MLB team has more fans in the USA - and planning to watch any of New York's games this weekend at Tampa Bay on the YES Network, it's going to sound very different. That's because long-time Yankees broadcaster John Sterling (a homer if there ever was one) will not be on the telecast. Sterling started calling Yankees games on the radio in 1989 - no YES Network way back then - and had worked 5,060 consecutive Yankees games through Wednesday between radio and TV. However, the 81-year-old didn't travel to the Tampa Bay area in order to get a long vacation through the All-Star break. Sterling has been feeling a little under the weather so he and his bosses thought a vacation was needed. All expectations are he will be back post-break. He will be replaced by this weekend by Ryan Ruocco of YES and ESPN (no pressure!). I can't stand Sterling because I can't stand the Yankees, but he's definitely unique. Too few of those guys remaining in my opinion.
Orioles at Blue Jays (-136, 9.5)
This is easily my favorite pitching matchup of the season. There hasn't been a 20-loss pitcher in the majors since Detroit's Mike Maroth in 2003, and I highly doubt there will be one ever again simply for how starters are used these days and managers not wanting to embarrass their guys. That said, both Baltimore's Dylan Bundy (3-10, 4.91) and Toronto's Aaron Sanchez (3-11, 6.31) are on track to hit 20 losses. They are the only pitchers in the majors with double-digit losses. Sanchez was easily the worst pitcher in baseball in June with a 12.00 ERA in six starts. Bundy, meanwhile, will be on eight days of rest as the Orioles try to shake things up with him. What's interesting is both young guys have great stuff and every other team in the majors would love to have them.
Key trends: The Orioles, amazingly, have lost Bundy's past 12 vs. teams with a losing record. The Jays have lost Sanchez's past six at home. The "over/under" has gone under in six of Sanchez's past eight in the series.
Early lean: Going contrarian on total with under. Take Jays.
Yankees at Rays (+113, 9)
MLB Network game (but YES Network in New York area). The Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka (5-5, 3.74) comes off the shortest outing of his career, crushed for six runs in two-thirds of an inning in last weekend's wild 17-13 Yankees win over the Red Sox in London. Tanaka failed to finish the first inning for the first time in 149 major-league starts. Tanaka has owned the Rays in his career and is 2-0 with a 0.41 ERA in three starts against them in 2019 with a complete game. Tampa Bay rookie Brendan McKay, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 draft, could be the next Shohei Ohtani as McKay pitches and hits - although he's clearly more valued by the organization as a pitcher. His big-league pitching debut was Saturday vs. Texas (McKay played DH once this week), and he allowed just one hit and no runs over six.
Key trends: The Yankees are 12-5 in Tanaka's past 17 vs. the Rays. The over is 5-1 in his previous six at Tampa Bay.
Early lean: Yankees on runline and under.
Phillies at Mets (-180, 8)
Not much has gone right for the Mets of late, but at least 2018 NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom (4-7, 3.32) has regained his form. DeGrom has allowed more than two earned just once in his past eight starts and gone at least six innings in all but one. Since May 1, his ERA is 2.81 and deGrom is an All-Star despite that losing record. Somehow, he has avoided the division-rival Phillies this year. Bryce Harper can hit him, going 10-for-31 with two homers. JT Realmuto (3-for-22, 7 Ks) can't. Philadelphia's Vince Velasquez (2-5, 4.73) has a 6.94 ERA in three starts since rejoining the rotation following a demotion to the bullpen. Velasquez threw five scoreless innings at the Mets on April 24.
Key trends: The Phillies are 1-5 in Velasquez's past six vs. the Mets. The under is 6-2 in deGrom's previous eight vs. the Phillies.
Early lean: Mets on runline and over.
Marlins at Braves (-190, 10)
Available on ESPN+. Hawaii cranks out some good football players - Marcus Mariota and Tua Tagovailoa immediately come to mind - but the islands don't churn out a ton of notable MLB players (Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Kolten Wong, Kirby Yates are some). The Marlins might have found a gem in 23-year-old Hawaiian Jordan Yamamoto (3-0, 2.35). This will be his fifth start since being promoted from Triple-A, and he has a 0.96 and a nasty slider as batters are 0-for-23 with 14 strikeouts against it. Yamamoto hasn't seen the Braves. Atlanta's Julio Teheran (5-6, 3.99) had been red hot but has really cooled off in his past three, with his ERA jumping from 2.92 in that stretch. He hasn't allowed a run in 12 innings vs. Miami this year.
Key trends: The Braves are 4-1 in Teheran's past five in series. The under is 5-2 in his previous seven vs. the Marlins.
Early lean: Marlins on runline and under.
Angels at Astros (-195, 9)
Obviously terrible news for the Angels organization on Monday when the team's most consistent starting pitcher, Tyler Skaggs, shockingly died in his Texas hotel room. Something like that can cause a team to go into a long slump or galvanize the players to honor their fallen teammate and go on a bit of a hot streak. The Halos already were super-thin in the rotation so it probably ends any wild-card hopes. Things got worse later in the week when All-Star infielder Tommy LaStella was lost for two months to a broken tibia. The Halos go with lefty Andrew Heaney (1-2, 5.40) here, and he has been roughed up in two of his past three outings. Houston's Jose Altuve is 7-for-19 with a homer off him. It's Justin Verlander (10-3, 2.86) for the Astros, and he could lock up the starting role in the All-Star Game for the AL with a dominant effort. Verlander won at the Angels on May 5 (6.1 IP, 4 ER). Mike Trout is just 5-for-38 off him with 11 Ks.
Key trends: The Astros are 8-1 in Verlander's past nine vs. the Angels. The over is 4-1 in his previous five overall.
Early lean: Astros on runline and over.
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