Free MLB Picks: Friday, May 24, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Have you noticed how bad the Orioles' pitching staff has been this season? Early this week, the Birds allowed their 100th homer of the season already, coming in the team's 48th game. That's a big-league record. The former mark was in 57 games by the 2000 Kansas City Royals. The MLB season record for homers allowed was 258 by the Cincinnati Reds, easily one of the worst staffs in modern history. Baltimore is on pace for around 340. A total of 22 players have allowed a homer, including two position guys in blowouts: shortstop Hanser Alberto and first baseman Chris Davis. How did this once-marquee franchise become such a mess? (Uh, bad ownership) Actually, one of the team's few bright spots is on the mound Friday - although you probably have never heard of him. That's largely the case with most Orioles in 2019.
Reds at Cubs (-155, TBA)
Per usual when the Cubs are home on Friday, it's the lone matinee and on the MLB Network. It's Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 3.21) for Chicago. The Cubs have won his past four, although he was just so-so last time out in allowing four runs over 5.2 innings in Washington. Hendricks was great in Cincinnati the start before that, giving up one run and three hits over eight. Joey Votto is 9-for-21 with three homers and 11 walks career against him. The Reds' Anthony DeSclafani (2-2, 4.60) has allowed four runs in four innings in each of his past two outings. DeSclafani is 2-1 with a 3.19 ERA in five career starts at Wrigley Field. Anthony Rizzo hits just .167 with six strikeouts off him in 24 at-bats.
Key trends: The Cubs are 9-4 in their past 13 series openers. The "over/under" has gone under in five straight DeSclafani starts in Chicago.
Early lean: Cubs on runline.
Red Sox at Astros (+125, 8.5)
These clubs already finish up their regular-season series this weekend - although I fully expect both in the postseason so they could meet then again. It's an MLB Network prime-time game. Red Sox lefty Chris Sale (1-5, 4.31) was limited to 5.1 innings last time out at home vs. Houston but struck out 10, his fourth straight double-digit game. His pitch count was already at 106 as five walks didn't help. Carlos Correa is 4-for-16 with a homer career against him. Houston lefty Wade Miley (4-2, 3.51) allowed three runs over five in Boston opposite Sale in a no-decision. Mookie Betts hammers him, going 6-for-11 with three doubles and a homer.
Key trends: The Red Sox have won seven of Sale's past 10 on the road. The under is 4-0 in his previous four away.
Early lean: Red Sox and under.
White Sox at Twins (-200, 9)
Minnesota DH Nelson Cruz (wrist) is eligible to return from the injured list on Friday and expects to. He's 1-for-3 career against White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez (3-4, 5.14). Lopez has lowered his ERA by nearly two runs with four quality starts in his past five. It's his first look at the Twins this year and he's 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in four career starts against them. Max Kepler is 0-for-12 off Lopez. Minnesota's Jose Berrios (6-2, 3.39) has been terrific most of the year but has allowed nine runs and 20 hits over his past two starts. He's 7-1 with a 2.12 ERA in seven nine career starts against the Pale Hose. Tim Anderson is just 1-for-21 off him with six strikeouts.
Key trends: The Sox are 5-12 in Lopez's past 17 vs. teams with a winning record. The under has hit in his previous seven overall.
Early lean: Twins on runline and under.
Orioles at Rockies (TBA)
Baltimore loses the designated hitter for this interleague matchup in the NL park - the last thing the Orioles pitching staff needs right now is to be in the thin air of Denver. It's rookie southpaw John Means (5-4, 2.68) for the Birds. He has allowed more than three earned just once all season in 11 appearances (seven starts). Means comes off allowing three over five innings in Cleveland. He has never faced the Rockies. Colorado's Jeff Hoffman (0-1, 7.20) has made just one start this year, back on April 23, allowing four runs over five against Washington. The former top prospect is expected to be called up from Triple-A. Hoffman just hasn't been able to figure it out in his four big-league seasons.
Key trends: The Orioles have won just eight of their past 52 series openers. The over is 8-1 in the Rockies' past nine at home.
Early lean: No line yet as Hoffman not official, but this sure looks like a 13-12 game.
Rangers at Angels (-169, 9)
Texas should get back shortstop Elvis Andrus from the injured list at some point this weekend. He was placed on the IL on May 15 with a hamstring injury. It's lefty Drew Smyly (0-3, 6.51) for the Rangers. Once again, he failed to go five innings last time out, allowing two runs over four vs. the Cardinals. It's not that Smyly is getting hit hard, but he has walked 20 in 27.2 innings. He allowed four runs over 3.1 innings at the Angels on April 6. Mike Trout is 4-for-15 with two homers and two doubles off him. L.A. rookie Griffin Canning (2-1, 3.80) comes off the best outing of his young career, shutting out the Royals on three hits over seven. It's his first look at Texas.
Key trends: The Rangers are 1-8 in their previous nine in Anaheim. The under is 14-3 in the previous 17 there.
Early lean: Angels and under.
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