Free MLB Picks for Thursday July 18, 2019
It's hard, at least for me, to not root for the Tampa Bay Rays nearly every year to win the AL East Division over the superpower and big-money New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Especially this year with the Rays drawing even fewer fans than usual (not saying much) and having by far the lowest payroll in baseball. It's fun to see David beat Goliath! Alas, the Rays got some news this week that probably officially relegates them to Wild-Card contention: Starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow, who has been on the injured list since May 10 with a right forearm strain, will remain shut down at least another two weeks from throwing after getting an update from a specialist. It's now looking more likely than not that 2019 will be a lost season for him. Glasnow and Austin Meadows were acquired last season in the Chris Archer deal, which looks like a heist for the Rays even with this injury. Meadows has been great and Glasnow was 6-1 with a 1.86 ERA before going down. The Rays really only have three starting pitchers - rookie Brendan McKay is on a strict innings limit so I don't count him - so they will continue to roll with openers nearly 40 percent of the time.
Padres at Marlins (-101, 8)
First game of day at 12:10 p.m. ET, and I'd guess there might be 2,000 people in the stands. Because, who doesn't want to sit at a Padres-Marlins game on a 95-degree noon start on a weekday in beautiful Miami? (I'm sure the roof will be closed but still.) Two promising young pitchers on the mound, though. San Diego's Dinelson Lamet (0-2, 6.30) has made two starts in his return from Tommy John surgery and has lasted five innings in each while striking out 14. The velocity's there, he has just been a bit unlucky. Marlins lefty Caleb Smith (5-4, 3.46) makes his second start since returning from the injured list and both have been quality. The Padres' Franmil Reyes is 3-for-8 with two solo homers off him.
Key trends: The Padres are 1-10 in Lamet's past 11. The "over/under" has gone over in six straight Smith starts vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Marlins and over.
Dodgers at Phillies (-108, 9.5)
You can stream this game for free on YouTube, with a first pitch of 12:35 p.m. ET. The Dodgers have lost valuable utilityman Chris Taylor for 4-6 weeks to a broken forearm. It's Ross Stripling (4-3, 3.65) for the Dodgers. His rotation spot was perhaps on the line Saturday, but Stripling was strong in allowing one run and four hits with seven strikeouts in Boston. He's allowed six home runs in 10 career innings at Citizens Bank Park. Rhys Hoskins is 1-for-3 with a homer off him. The Phillies' Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.63) is starting to find his 2018 form in allowing one earned or fewer in five straight outings. He's the first Philadelphia starter to allow no more than one earned run in five consecutive starts since Cole Hamels from July 19 to Aug. 9, 2014. The Dodgers' Joc Pederson is 2-for-6 with a double off him.
Key trends: The Phillies are 11-5 in Nola's past 16 at home vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 6-1-1 in Stripling's past eight.
Early lean: Phillies and under.
Blue Jays at Red Sox (TBA)
MLB Network game at 1:05 p.m. ET. Red Sox ace lefty Chris Sale (3-9, 4.27) can't seem to string together multiple strong starts this year and hasn't won a regular-season home game, amazingly, since July 11 of last year. He has allowed five earned in three straight outings overall. He is 7-4 with a 3.07 ERA in 15 career starts vs. Toronto but 0-2 with a 7.98 ERA this year. Randal Grichuk is 6-for-15 with two homers off Sale career. Toronto had to put Clayton Richard on the injured list over the weekend and this was his spot, so they will either call someone up - Sean Reid-Foley (0-1, 3.55) is a likely candidate -- or use a committee here.
Key trends: The Sox are 1-7 in Sale's past eight on Thursday. The over is 3-0-1 in his previous four against Toronto.
Early lean: TBA for Toronto starter -- Jays on runline regardless.
Tigers at Indians (-207, 9)
There will be a ton of scouts at this game because both starting pitchers are very available in trades and more likely than not to be dealt by the deadline. Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd (6-7, 3.95) has allowed four earned in three straight starts but also struck out at least 10 in all of them. Rather amazingly, no Tigers pitcher has ever had four straight double-digit strikeout starts. That's shocking considering Justin Verlander's run in Motown. Jack Morris, etc. Boyd is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts this year vs. the Tribe. Cleveland's Trevor Bauer (8-7, 3.65) is second in the AL in strikeouts and whiffed 11 last time out but lost to the Twins. He's 1-1 with a 4.34 ERA in three starts this year vs. the Tigers.
Key trends: The Tigers are 1-4 in Boyd's past five in Cleveland. The under is 4-1-1 in Bauer's previous six against Detroit.
Early lean: Tigers on runline and under.
Astros at Angels (TBA)
Houston lefty Wade Miley (7-4, 3.32) has had three straight quality starts and the Astros have won them all. He did allow three homers last time out against Texas, matching his total from his previous six outings. Miley won at the Angels on May 4, allowing two runs over six. Albert Pujols is 4-for-12 with two homers off him. The Angels' Matt Harvey (3-4, 6.88) returned from nearly two months on the injured list (back strain) and was pretty good vs. Seattle, giving up a run and four hits over 5.2 innings. His velocity was a bit higher than it had been earlier this year. Harvey was knocked around for five runs over 4.2 innings on May 5 vs. Houston. George Springer is 2-for-4 with a homer off him.
Key trends: The Astros have won five straight Miley starts vs. the AL West. The over is 5-2 in Harvey's previous seven at home.
Early lean: Not sure why a TBA as I've seen no indications of a pitching change - if it's this one, go Astros and over (regardless).
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