Free MLB Picks for Thursday June 13, 2019
The clear series of the weekend around baseball begins Thursday night from Los Angeles as the Cubs visit the Dodgers in what could well be a preview of the NLCS - barring major injury, I believe it will be. The teams met in the 2016 NLCS (Cubs won) and again the next year (Dodgers won). Great matchup of two of the best left-handers of this generation in Chicago's Jon Lester and L.A.'s Clayton Kershaw. The latter is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Is Lester headed to Cooperstown? I would say not quite yet. In his regular-season career, Lester is 182-102 with a 3.50 ERA. Good numbers but not perhaps Hall-worthy yet. He also has never won a Cy Young. Lester has boosted his Hall case with a few World Series rings and a career 2.51 ERA in 154 postseason innings. He probably has to have a few more very good seasons to ensure enshrinement. The 35-year-old is under contract through 2021.
Pirates at Braves (-170, 9)
First game of day at 12:10 p.m. ET and on the MLB Network. Pittsburgh starter Joe Musgrove was just on the mound Monday in Atlanta but lasted only 18 pitches before being ejected. With two outs in the first inning, Musgrove's pitch grazed Josh Donaldson's jersey. As Donaldson headed to first base, he exchanged words with Musgrove. Pirate catcher Elias Diaz stepped between them and then Donaldson shoved Diaz. The benches cleared but there was no fight. Not sure Musgrove (4-6, 4.40) deserved to get tossed as he clearly wasn't purposefully trying to hit Donaldson (who got a one-game suspension). The Braves' Julio Teheran (4-4, 3.03) won in Miami in his most recent outing, shutting out the Marlins on two hits over six. Since May 5, he has the second-lowest ERA in the majors (0.70).
Key trends: The Braves are 4-1 in Teheran's past five at home vs. Pittsburgh. The "over/under" is 5-0 in Musgrove's past five.
Early lean: Braves and over.
Mariners at Twins (-180, 10)
A 1:10 p.m. ET series finale between these clubs. It's former Mariners top prospect Michael Pineda (4-3, 5.34) for Minnesota, and he has had a very uneven season after missing all of last year due to Tommy John surgery. Pineda has been consistent of late, though: Six straight starts allowing three earned runs. Edwin Encarnacion has seen him by far the most of any Twin, going 10-for-33 with a homer. Seattle lefty rookie Yusei Kikuchi (3-4, 4.99) has lost his past three and has gone exactly 3.1 innings in each, allowing a combined 18 runs and 29 hits. His last win was May 19 vs. the Twins (6 IP, 1 ER). Jorge Polanco was 3-for-3 off him that night.
Key trends: The Mariners are 2-12 in their past 14 vs. right-handed starters. The over is 11-1-1 in Kikuchi's previous 13.
Early lean: Mariners on runline and over.
Cardinals at Mets (-140, 7.5)
That the Cardinals lost out on the Dallas Keuchel sweepstakes was amplified this week with the team putting starting pitcher Adam Wainwright on the injured list. He might miss only two starts with a hamstring strain but hasn't been all that great regardless. This team doesn't have enough starting pitching as it is to contend in the NL Central. It's young Jack Flaherty (4-3, 4.08) on the bump here. He allowed four runs over 3.2 innings Saturday at the Cubs, Flaherty's fourth straight no-decision. It's his first career look at the Mets. New York goes with reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom (3-6, 3.45). After a slow start, he has a 2.72 ERA over his past eight. DeGrom is 4-2 with a 4.21 ERA all-time vs. the Cards. Matt Carpenter hits just .176 off him.
Key trends: The Mets are 4-1 in deGrom's past five vs. the Cardinals. The under is 5-0 in Flaherty's previous five against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Mets and under.
Tigers at Royals (-101, 9)
ESPN prime-time game - the network somewhat at the bottom of the barrel with this matchup. But ESPN can't just show the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs or Dodgers every night. The reason this is on ESPN is it's being played from the site of the College World Series in Omaha. It's the first-ever MLB game in the state of Nebraska. A home game away from Kansas City will be a first for the Royals. Their Triple-A affiliate is in the city. Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd (5-4, 3.08) lost to the Twins in his most recent start, allowing three runs over seven innings. Boyd beat the Royals on May 3 (7 IP, 2 ER). Kansas City's Homer Bailey (4-6, 5.90) comes off a quality start but no-decision vs. the White Sox. He won in Detroit on May 4 (6 IP, 2 ER).
Key trends: The Tigers are 5-2 in the past seven meetings. The over is 9-3-1 in Boyd's previous 13 against Kansas City.
Early lean: Tigers and over.
Cubs at Dodgers (-175, 8)
I'm stunned this game isn't on national television. Not only the marquee matchup but also the only late-night matchup on the schedule. Lester (5-4, 3.56) went through about a three-start funk but has won his past two. He allowed four runs over six Saturday against St. Louis. Lester lost to the Dodgers on April 25, allowing one run over five. Cody Bellinger is 4-for-7 with a double and homer off him. Kershaw (5-1, 3.00) comes off his first loss, although he didn't really deserve it in allowing two runs over seven innings in San Francisco. He missed the Cubs earlier this year. Anthony Rizzo is a .375 hitter off him with two homers in 16 at-bats.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 6-2 in Kershaw's past eight at home vs. the Cubs. The under is 7-3-1 in his previous 11 at home overall.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
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