Free MLB Picks for Tuesday, April 2, 2019
At this point in life, I'm presuming that I won't be receiving some sort of multi-million dollar extension from anyone (dear Doc's editors, I'm happy to listen!). What does this have to do with baseball? You might consider betting against pitchers (it can happen to hitters too) for a short while after they got a life-changing extension. On the eve of the season, both Boston's Chris Sale, although he was already quite wealthy, and Tampa Bay's Blake Snell, both got life-changing deals. Both struggled in their season debuts. This can happen to professional athletes: They press too hard at first to prove they were worth the money and the team's faith. Hey, that's better than the guys who get lazy after becoming financially secure.
Brewers at Reds (+101, 8.5)
The Reds look much improved this year and should hit like crazy, but just not sure they have enough pitching to contend in the NL Central or for a wild-card spot. For example, can someone like Anthony DeSclafani take the next step? He had a fine 2016 season but then missed all of 2017 due to injury. Last year, DeSclafani was 7-8 with a 4.93 ERA overall and 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA in three starts vs. the Brewers. Scorching-hot Christian Yelich is 6-for-12 off him with two homers. Milwaukee's Jhoulys Chacin (1-0, 5.06) wasn't especially sharp on Opening Day but beat the Cardinals, allowing three runs over 5.2 innings. New Red Yasiel Puig is 8-for-24 career off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Brewers have won Chacin's past four on the road. The "over/under" has gone under in seven of his previous eight away. The over is 4-1-1 in DeSclafani's past six vs. the Brewers.
Early lean: Brewers and over.
Phillies at Nationals (-200, 7.5)
MLB Network game. This will get all the hype on Tuesday because it's Bryce Harper's return to Washington. I don't expect he will be warmly welcomed. If Harper had signed with, say, the Dodgers or Cubs, then the Nationals fans probably would have understood. But signing with a bitter division rival for basically the same money per year that the Nationals offered him? Yeah, this won't go well for Harper. He has never faced former teammate and three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer (0-1, 2.35). Scherzer originally was scheduled for Wednesday, but the team opted to keep him on normal rest. He was a tough-luck loser on Opening Day vs. the Mets, allowing just two hits and striking out 12 over 7.2 innings. It's Zach Eflin for the Phillies. Eflin went 11-8 with a 4.36 ERA in 24 starts last season. He was 1-1 with a 5.93 ERA in three starts vs. Washington. Juan Soto is 4-for-8 off him.
Key trends: The Nats are 13-2 in Scherzer's past 15 vs. the Phillies. The over is 5-1 in his previous six against them.
Early lean: Nats on runline and over.
Rockies at Rays (-150, 7)
Colorado adds the DH for this interleague game. Snell (0-1, 7.50), the 2018 AL Cy Young winner who led the league with a 1.89 ERA, was roughed up for five runs - three homers - in six innings of an Opening Day home loss to Houston. The southpaw didn't allow more than two runs in any of his 14 starts at home in 2018. He yielded one or fewer in 12 of them. Only a few Rockies have seen him. Nolan Arenado is 0-for-3. Colorado lefty Kyle Freeland (1-0, 1.29) developed into the ace in 2018 and looked the part in an Opening Day win in Miami, allowing a run and two hits over seven. Freeland hasn't faced Tampa Bay.
Key trends: The Rockies are 7-1 in Freeland's past eight interleague starts. The under is 7-1 in those.
Early lean: Rockies and under.
Red Sox at A's (+150, 7)
I obviously wouldn't worry about Sale yet, but his velocity was well down at the end of last season, and it was down again Opening Day in Seattle when Sale was ripped for seven runs and three homers over three innings of a loss. Sale didn't get a single swing-and-miss on his fastball. Sale's Opening Day start was the worst by a Red Sox starter since 2002. Pedro Martinez was hammered that day but would dominate the rest of the year and finish as the Cy Young runner-up. New Oakland DH Kendrys Morales has seen Sale the most of any Athletic, going 11-for-38 with there homers. Oakland's Mike Fiers (1-1, 5.00) has pitched twice already, looking shaky in Japan but then dominating the Angels in the U.S. opener. Boston's JD Martinez is 7-for-14 off him with two homers.
Key trends: The A's are 7-1 in Fiers' past eight at home. The over is 6-0-2 in Sale's past eight.
Early lean: A's and over.
Giants at Dodgers (-182, 7)
Always entertaining when Giants ace lefty Madison Bumgarner faces the Dodgers because he doesn't want to beat any team more. Bumgarner (0-1, 2.57) looked very good on Opening Day in San Diego, surrendering two runs and five hits with nine strikeouts over seven innings. But can he finally stay healthy? Expect Enrique Hernandez in Tuesday's lineup as he's a career .487 hitter in 39 at-bats off MadBum with four homers. L.A. lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (1-0, 1.50) also pitched well on Opening Day, allowing one run and four hits over six against a bad Arizona team. Ryu was 1-0 with a 1.53 ERA in three starts last year vs. the Giants. Buster Posey is a career .303 hitter against him.
Key trends: The Giants are 3-9 in Bumgarner's past 12 vs. the Dodgers. The under is 5-1 in Ryu's previous six against SF.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
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