Free MLB Picks for Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Yet another potential difference-making player has decided to sign before hitting free agency next winter. The Red Sox and terrific shortstop Xander Bogaerts agreed to a six-year, $120 million deal on top of the $12 million he's making in 2019. It includes an opt-out after the third season. Bogaerts joins teammate Chris Sale, Houston pitcher Justin Verlander, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado and Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, among a few others, as those who have agreed on extensions with free agency on tap. Astros starter Gerrit Cole and Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon are the main guys left on the market. Boston's Mookie Betts isn't up until after 2020, and it sounds as if he's going to the market unless the Red Sox give him Mike Trout money.
Phillies at Nationals (+118, 7.5)
A 1:05 p.m. start from D.C. It's ace Aaron Nola for the Phillies. The 25-year-old usually has pinpoint control but walked a career-high five in his opening win over the Braves, allowing just two hits and one run over six. Nola was 3-1 with a 2.14 ERA in five starts a year ago vs. Washington. Rendon is a career .313 hitter off him in 32 at-bats. Adam Eaton is just 1-for-17 with 10 Ks. It's the Washington debut of Anibal Sanchez. He looked shot entering last season but was 7-6 with a 2.83 ERA in 24 starts and one relief appearance for Atlanta. The Nats signed him to a two-year, $19 million contract. New Phillie Bryce Harper is 4-for-14 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Phillies are 13-4 in Nola's past 17 vs. the NL East. The "over/under" has gone under in seven of his past eight vs. Washington.
Early lean: Phillies and under.
Rockies at Rays (-125, 7)
First pitch of 1:10 p.m. from Tropicana Field, with Colorado adding the DH. Tampa Bay has lost second baseman Joey Wendle to the DL with a hamstring injury. He strained it on a stolen base attempt Sunday and will likely be sidelined for a couple of weeks. Daniel Robertson and Brandon Lowe probably platoon at second while Wendle is out. He was a nice surprise last year, hitting .300 with 61 RBIs in 139 games. Colorado's German Marquez (1-0, 1.50) won in Miami in his season debut, allowing one run and two hits over six. Tampa's Charlie Morton (1-0, 3.60) won his Rays debut, surrendering two runs over five with eight strikeouts against his former Astros teammates. Arenado is 2-for-11 off him.
Key trends: The Rockies are 5-0 in Marquez's past five interleague starts. The under is 10-3-2 in his previous 15 overall.
Early lean: Rays and under.
Tigers at Yankees (-185, 8.5)
New York has placed outfielder/DH Giancarlo Stanton on the 10-day injured list with a left biceps strain. Unclear how much time he misses. Stanton had been 2-for-8 with no extra-base hits but eight walks. He joins fellow outfielders Aaron Hicks (lower back) and Jacoby Ellsbury (hip/plantar fasciitis) on the DL (yes, I know it's injured list now but I'm not calling it that yet). More concerning is third baseman Miguel Andujar being diagnosed with a small labrum tear in his right shoulder. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks, but it's possible his season could be over if surgery is required. Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd (0-1, 5.40) wasn't great in his season debut in Toronto, allowing three earned over five, but did whiff 10. The Yankees' Gary Sanchez is 2-for-3 off him with a homer. New York is thin on starters with Luis Severino and CC Sabathia out. This is expected to be minor-league call up Jonathan Loaisiga the spot start.
Key trends: The Tigers are 5-17 in Boyd's past 22 on the road. The over is 5-2-2 in his past nine overall.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Cubs at Braves (+104, 8.5)
ESPN game. Cubs lefty Jon Lester (1-0, 3.00) held the Rangers to two runs and four hits over six innings in winning on Opening Day. Lester doesn't overpower any longer but he stills know how to pitch. He is 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA in nine career starts against the Braves. Freddie Freeman is 6-for-20 with two homers off Lester. Atlanta's Julio Teheran (0-1, 5.40) went five innings on Opening Day in Philadelphia, allowing three runs with seven strikeouts. Teheran won his lone 2018 start vs. the Cubs, allowing four runs in six innings. Kyle Schwarber is 3-for-7 off Teheran with a double.
Key trends: The Cubs have won Lester's past five vs. the Braves, who are 7-1 in Teheran's previous eight against Chicago. The under is 20-7-1 in Teheran's past 28 at home.
Early lean: Braves and under.
Cardinals at Pirates (-107, 7.5)
Obviously too early to judge the big extension the Cards gave Miles Mikolas (0-1, 9.00) before the season, but he looked like the journeyman he used to be in losing his season debut to the Brewers. Mikolas allowed five runs - three homers - over five innings. That loss was his first on the road since 2014, snapping a run of 19 consecutive wins or no-decisions. He was 1-2 with a 2.90 ERA in five starts last year vs. the Pirates. Gregory Polanco is 3-for-12 with a dinger off him. Pittsburgh's Jameson Taillon (0-1, 6.00) gave up four runs over six innings in the Pirates' Opening Day loss to the Reds in Cincinnati. He went 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA in three starts against the Cardinals last year. Matt Carpenter is 7-for-21 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Pirates are 8-2 in Taillon's past 10 vs. the NL Central. The under is 6-2 in his previous eight against St. Louis.
Early lean: Pirates and over.
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