Free MLB Picks for Thursday August 15, 2019
Pretty much every sports league is a copycat league when it comes to success. Perhaps the most such is Major League Baseball. We all know about how the small-budget Oakland A's stayed successful through "Moneyball." Well, expect teams to start trying to replicate (if they haven't already) the Houston Astros. They are the betting favorites to win a second World Series in three years and a huge reason for that is the success of their rotation. While most of Houston's offensive talent came up through the system, the opposite is true for the starting pitchers. The Astros' front office/scouts are using analytics better than anyone in finding players/pitchers on other clubs who may not be performing to the best of their abilities and identifying ways to make them better. Justin Verlander is awesome now, but remember he looked close to being done near the end of his Tigers tenure. Gerrit Cole has been a much better pitcher in Houston than he was with Pittsburgh. Wade Miley is having a career year. The latest successful reclamation project might be former Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez. He's on the mound Thursday in Oakland.
Mariners at Tigers (TBA)
ESPN+ game at 1:10 p.m. ET. Detroit has lost the past nine times that Spencer Turnbull (3-10, 3.68) has taken the mound, although as one can see by that ERA he generally pitches pretty well. The Tigers' offense is simply ghastly and has scored two or fewer runs in seven of his past nine outings. He's getting just 2.67 runs of support on the season, which is comical. It's his first career look at Seattle. It will be an opener for the Mariners and then lefty Tommy Milone (1-7, 4.70), who got that lone victory back on May 27. He was tagged for five runs (three homers) over four innings last time out in a loss to Tampa Bay. Milone took a no-decision on July 28 vs. Detroit. Miguel Cabrera is 8-for-22 with two doubles against him.
Key trends: The Tigers are 1-12 in Turnbull's past 13 starts. The "over/under" has gone under in four of his past five at home.
Early lean: TBA for M's opener; Tigers regardless.
Dodgers at Marlins (+223, 7.5)
MLB Network matchup at 3:05 p.m. ET. Dodgers All-Star Walker Buehler (10-2, 3.08) comes off a no-decision against Arizona in which he threw six shutout innings and whiffed eight. He dominated the Marlins on July 21 in shutting them out on five hits with 11 strikeouts over seven. No Marlin has ever homered off him. Miami lefty Caleb Smith (7-6, 3.71) was a rumored trade candidate at the deadline. He was hammered for six runs and 10 hits over 4.2 innings last time out against Atlanta. Smith has been a little wilder since the All-Star break. He hasn't seen the Dodgers this year and only a few L.A. players have faced him.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 11-2 in Buehler's past 13 on five days of rest. The under has hit in four straight Smith starts on Thursday.
Early lean: Marlins on runline and under.
Indians at Yankees (TBA)
Potential ALDS preview. Indians youngster Adam Plutko (4-3, 4.68) was a loser at the Twins on Saturday, giving up four runs and nine hits over six. Not a guy who strikes many out but lets his defense do the work. He beat the visiting Yankees on June 8 (6 IP, 2 ER). Didi Gregorius is 1-for-2 with a homer off him. New York's Masahiro Tanaka (8-6, 4.64) comes off one of the best outings of his career, eight shutout innings, three hits allowed and now walks in Toronto. The right-hander was pulled after Brandon Drury singled to begin the ninth. Tanaka hasn't faced the Tribe in 2019. Jose Ramirez is 6-for-11 off him with a triple.
Key trends: The Indians are 4-9 in the past 13 meetings. The over is 14-3-1 in the Yanks' past 18 vs. the AL Central.
Early lean: This is TBA as there's some talk the Yanks might push Tanaka back to Friday. I still like New York heavily here against Plutko.
Mets at Braves (-123, 10)
MLB Network prime-time game. New York's Marcus Stroman (6-11, 3.20) has been so-so in two starts being acquired from Toronto although the Mets have won both. Stroman has not seen the Braves this year. Josh Donaldson is 1-for-3 with a double off his former teammate. Atlanta's Julio Teheran (7-7, 3.35) won in Miami on Friday, giving up one run and five hits over seven. Teheran has given up nine runs in 13 1/3 innings across three starts against the Mets this season. Mets rookie Pete Alonso is 4-for-6 off him with two doubles and a home run. Jeff McNeil 5-for-13 with three doubles.
Key trends: The Braves have won five straight Teheran starts vs. the NL East. The under is 11-5-1 in his previous 17 at home vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Braves and under.
Astros at A's (+103, 9.5)
Sanchez (5-14, 5.60) always had the talent as he led the American League in ERA in 2016 but for whatever reason couldn't ever put it together again after that. All he did in his Astros debut is combine on a no-hitter (6 innings pitched for him). Last time out in Baltimore, Sanchez won again in allowing one run and three hits over five. I think other clubs are going to be kicking themselves for not trading for Sanchez. Sanchez is 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA over two starts this year. Khris Davis is 4-for-7 with a homer off him. Oakland's Mike Fiers (11-3, 3.30) hasn't lost May 1 in Boston. He doesn't have a decision and 5.63 ERA in three 2019 starts against Houston. The Astros' Michael Brantley is 10-for-28 off him with two doubles.
Key trends: The Astros are 2-17 in their past 28 in Oakland. The under is 5-2 in the previous seven meetings.
Early lean: A's and under.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Get all of Today's MLB Picks
Get all of Today's Guaranteed Expert MLB Picks