Free MLB Picks for Thursday April 4, 2019
Things are looking up for the Cincinnati Reds franchise as a whole with some good young talent both in the majors and down on the farm. However, the club's No. 1 pitching prospect and No. 3 overall in the system, Hunter Greene, now has to have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, obviously ending his season. Not like Greene, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, was to be a contributor this season, but it also likely rules out next. The Reds have been looking for an ace since Johnny Cueto was traded in 2015, and perhaps it will still be Greene eventually. The 19-year-old regularly hits triple digits on his fastball. The success rate among professional pitchers who undergo is around 90 percent. Greene was shut down in July of last year with an ulnar collateral sprain in his elbow as the Reds opted for rest instead of surgery then. Nowadays, best to just get the surgery done and out of the way.
Nationals at Mets (-125, 7.5)
MLB Network game at 1:10 p.m. ET. It's the pitching matchup of the day between the nasty Stephen Strasburg and the nastier Noah Syndergaard. Strasburg (0-0, 6.00) was OK in his season debut against these Mets on March 30, allowing four runs over six with eight strikeouts in a no-decision. Michael Conforto is 4-for-21 off him with nine strikeouts but two homers. Syndergaard (0-0, 6.00) was opposite Strasburg in that one and also allowed four runs over six with seven strikeouts. Syndergaard hit 99 mph, but four of the seven hits against him went for extra bases. Anthony Rendon hits .345 career off him with two dingers in 29 at-bats.
Key trends: The Mets are 7-1 in Syndergaard's past eight at home. The "over/under" has gone under in his past six at Citi Field vs. Washington.
Early lean: Mets and under.
Royals at Tigers (-123, 8.5)
Might be the only sellout of the season in Detroit this year as the likely awful Tigers have their home opener at 1:10 p.m. ET. They go with 26-year-old rookie Spencer Turnbull. He did pitch 16.1 innings last year but retained rookie status. Turnbull lost his 2019 debut in Toronto, surrendering three runs and four hits over five. Normally the home opener goes to a Tigers veteran, but manager Ron Gardenhire was so pleased with Turnbull this spring that he's giving it to him. Turnbull hasn't faced the Royals. Kansas City counters with Jakob Junis (1-0, 4.76). His first five innings last Saturday vs. the White Sox were scoreless, but he wouldn't make it out of the sixth. Detroit's Nicholas Castellanos is just 2-for-17 career against him.
Key trends: The Royals are 5-1 in Junis' past six vs. Detroit. The under is 4-1-1 in those.
Early lean: Royals and under.
Yankees at Orioles (+170, 8.5)
The Yankees haven't had much good news yet this season, but the first start of new addition and southpaw James Paxton (0-1, 1.59) was promising. He allowed one earned with five strikeouts over 5.2 innings but got little offensive support in a loss to Baltimore. Paxton allowed just one hit and no runs through five innings. He threw a fastball on 67 of his 82 pitches, or 81.7 percent, with an average velocity of 95.1. It will be a few weeks before the Yankees allow Paxton or any of their starters to throw 100 pitches in a game. The Birds' Alex Cobb was to be the Opening Day starter but suffered a minor injury late in the spring. He was maybe MLB's worst pitcher in the first half of last season but terrific in the second. Cobb started three times vs. New York and was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA.
Key trends: The Yankees have won their past five in Baltimore. The over is 13-5-1 in the past 19 there.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Cubs at Braves (-110, 8.5)
MLB Network prime-time game. It's obviously WAY too early to say the Cubs' season might rest on one game, but boy is this important for Yu Darvish, who continues to look like a $126 million bust. He barely pitched last season due to ineffectiveness/injury but reportedly was a brand-new guy in spring training, both from a professional and personal standpoint. Everyone raved about Darvish in the Cactus League. Then he went out and allowed three runs with seven walks in just 2.2 innings in a loss at Texas. The Cubs are nothing short of up the creek if Darvish has lost it for good. Josh Donaldson has seen him more than any Brave, going 4-for-18 with nine Ks. Atlanta lefty Max Fried has pitched 1.2 innings of relief this season without allowing a run. No Cub has more than three at-bats off him.
Key trends: The Cubs are 7-3 in their past 10 vs. a lefty. The under is 6-2 in Darvish's past eight.
Early lean: Cubs and under.
Rangers at Angels (-155, 8.5)
Expect quite an ovation for Mike Trout as he plays his first home game since committing the rest of his career to the Angels with the biggest contract in American sports history. He's off to a so-so start but could be pressing a bit. L.A. took an offseason one-year flier on Matt Harvey (0-0, 3.00), and he was solid in his debut, allowing two runs and four hits over six in Oakland. Only a few Rangers have seen him with Harvey spending his entire career prior to 2019 in the National League. Edinson Volquez missed all of last season and made his Rangers return (pitched for them from 2005-07) on March 30 vs. the Cubs and took a no-decision in allowing four runs over four innings. Trout is 1-for-3 off him.
Key trends: The Angels are 6-1 in their past seven home games. The under is 10-1 in the past 11 meetings in Anaheim.
Early lean: Angels and under.
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