Free MLB Picks for Thursday August 22, 2019
The Red Sox have gotten fairly good news on the elbow of ace lefty Chris Sale as he is expected to avoid Tommy John surgery, but his season is over as Sale was treated in that elbow with platelet-rich plasma injection. And it's no sure thing that he avoids TJS once he is allowed to start throwing. This is why, yet again, it's so silly to give monster contracts to starting pitchers because most of them do undergo TJS it seems these days. For some reason, Boston gave Sale a five-year, $145 million deal on the eve of the season even though Sale is on the injured list at least once every year. David Price signed a seven-year, $217 million contract in December 2015 and largely hasn't lived up to it and also has been hampered by injuries. Nathan Eovaldi was a late-season revelation for Boston in 2018 and earned himself a four-year, $67.5 million deal this winter despite having undergone two Tommy John surgeries in his career. He has barely pitched in 2019 due to injuries. Over the next three seasons, Boston is committed to pay that trio close to $80 million annually. Even the Red Sox are going to end up paying the piper for that allotment in terms of keeping some of their other players (i.e. Mookie Betts).
Giants at Cubs (-163, TBA)
MLB Network game at 2:20 p.m. ET. It's the only matinee, which is somewhat unusual on a Thursday as that's often a getaway day. It's former Cub Jeff Samardzija (9-9, 3.54) for the Giants. He has been a pleasant surprise this year after an injury-plagued and awful 2018 campaign that saw him finish with an ERA north of 6.00. "Shark" hasn't seen the Cubs in 2019. Kris Bryant is 4-for-9 with a double and homer off him. Chicago's Kyle Hendricks (8-9, 3.37) was destroyed two starts ago in Cincinnati but then held the Pirates to a run on three hits over seven last time out - but took a no-decision. He hasn't faced the Giants this year. Buster Posey is 3-for-21 off him. Hendricks 4-2 with a 1.98 ERA in 10 starts this season at Wrigley.
Key trends: The Cubs have won four straight Hendricks starts vs. the Giants. The "over/under" has gone under in five of his previous seven against the Giants.
Early lean: Cubs.
Nationals at Pirates (+178, 8.5)
While it's probably too late to win another NL Cy Young Award, Nats ace Max Scherzer (9-5, 2.41) is expected to return on Thursday. He has missed missing nearly four weeks with a rhomboid strain, his second trip to the injured list. Scherzer likely will be limited to around 75-80 pitches in this one. Scherzer beat the Bucs on April 14, allowing three runs over eight. Starling Marte is 4-for-21 off him with 10 strikeouts. Pittsburgh lefty Steven Brault (3-2, 4.06) comes off the best start of his career, allowing one run on two hits over seven vs. the Cubs but took a no-decision. He has a 2.58 ERA in 10 starts since returning to the rotation.
Key trends: The Pirates have lost Brault's past seven against teams with a winning record. The over is 5-2-1 in his past eight at home.
Early lean: Nationals and under.
Indians at Mets (-155, 8.5)
Cleveland loses the designated hitter for this interleague matchup. The Tribe go with young Aaron Civale (1-2, 1.50). The 24-year-old has made four starts in the majors this year and has gone six in each, also allowing three earned or fewer in each. With Corey Kluber recently suffering a setback in his rehab, Civale should stick for a while. The 24-year-old hasn't seen the Mets. New York's Noah Syndergaard (8-6, 3.86) was a tough-luck loser in his most recent outing, allowing two runs over six in Kansas City. He has a 1.65 ERA over his past four. Only a few Indians have seen him. Carlos Santana is 4-for-9 with a double.
Key trends: The Mets are 8-3 in Syndergaard's past 11 vs. the AL. The under is 5-2 in his previous seven.
Early lean: Mets on runline and under.
Tigers at Astros (-475, 9)
Quite possibly the pitching mismatch of the season (biggest moneyline spread in past 15 years is -500 in MLB and this could easily top that by first pitch). Detroit's terrible Jordan Zimmermann (1-8, 6.66) actually was good for once in his last start, blanking the Rays on one hit over five but still took a no-decision because the Tigers are horrible offensively. Zimmermann hasn't seen Houston this year. Michael Brantley is 4-for-10 off him with two doubles and five RBIs. The Astros' Gerrit Cole (14-5, 2.87) hasn't pitched since Aug. 7 due to a hamstring injury. He's 10-0 with a 1.98 ERA and 126 strikeouts in his last 14 starts. Cole hasn't seen Detroit in 2019. Miguel Cabrera is 3-for-12 with four Ks off him.
Key trends: The Astros are 14-1 in Cole's past 15 at home vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 5-2 in Zimmermann's past seven on the road.
Early lean: This actually feels like a trap game for Houston if such a thing exists in baseball. You have to take a shot on Detroit at that price.
Yankees at A's (-103, 9.5)
New York's Masahiro Tanaka (9-6, 4.56) hasn't lost in his past four. He comes off a win over Cleveland, allowing two runs and four hits over 6.1 innings. This will be his first look at Oakland this year and Tanaka has been much worse (2-4, 6.48 ERA) on the road. Khris Davis has faced him the most of any A's batter and is 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts. Oakland's Tanner Roark (7-8, 4.01) has been quite good in three starts since coming over from Cincinnati, allowing two earned or fewer in all of them. He hasn't faced the Yankees this year. Didi Gregorius is 2-for-6 off him with two solo homers.
Key trends: The Yankees are 5-1 in Tanaka's past six vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 7-3 in his previous 10.
Early lean: A's and over.
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