Free MLB Picks for Tuesday, May 21, 2019
With the Los Angeles Dodgers opening an interleague series at the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday in a potential World Series preview - doubt the Rays get there but it's possible - it's a good time to remind everyone who the most important person in an organization is: The general manager. If you have a cutting-edge GM (OK, some might have the title of team president like the Cubs' Theo Epstein) who is a terrific talent evaluator and ahead of the curve in terms of bringing in talented people around him, your team will contend more often than not regardless of budget. The Rays unquestionably had one of the best in the business in Andrew Friedman, but he was hired away by the Dodgers in October 2014, which also caused Manager Joe Maddon to leave Tampa Bay for Epstein's Cubs. Freidman has done his typical excellent work in L.A. with a "slightly" bigger budget, yet here the Rays are overachieving yet again. It's still an organization that thinks outside the box in terms of hires and strategy - Manager Kevin Cash was the first to try "openers." So, you can pay the Mike Trouts of the world $450 million or the Bryce Harpers $330 million, but if you don't have a smart guy running the front office it doesn't matter. There's a reason neither Harper nor Trout has even reached a league championship series.
Phillies at Cubs (-120, TBA)
First of an ESPN doubleheader. Some thought that Bryce Harper might wind up with the Cubs in free agency this past offseason because he and fellow Vegas native Kris Bryant are buddies and Harper's dog is named Wrigley. And I believe he would be a Cub if the team made an offer similar to what the Phillies did. Alas, the Cubs never made one. It's Zach Eflin (5-4, 2.89) for the Phillies. He was coming off the best three-start stretch of his career Thursday but came back to earth, allowing four runs over five in a loss to the Brewers. Bryant is 6-for-10 career off him. Cubs lefty Jose Quintana (4-3, 3.68) allowed three runs over five Thursday in a loss to the Reds. Believe it or not, Harper has never faced him in a regular-season game.
Key trends: The Cubs are 5-2 in Quintana's past seven at home vs. teams with a winning record. The "over/under" has gone under in five of Eflin's past seven on the road.
Early lean: Cubs.
Dodgers at Rays (TBA)
Los Angeles will add the designated hitter for this interleague game in the AL park. Just for giggles, here's approximately what Friedman (technically president of baseball ops) is spending on the Dodgers' payroll this year: $197 million. Here's Tampa's payroll: MLB-low $62 million. So, yeah, easy decision for Friedman to leave. Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (3-0, 3.40) takes the mound. As brittle as he has become, the Dodgers are probably thrilled he won't have to bat. Kershaw has gone at least six innings in all six outings this year. Not many Rays have seen him. Tampa is expected to go with an opener here - again, I'm going to hammer home this point that the sportsbooks need to find a way to still have a day-before line in these cases.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 6-2 in Kershaw's past eight on the road vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 6-1 in his previous seven on the road.
Early lean: Dodgers.
Yankees at Orioles (+199, 9.5)
The Yankees were supposed to be in trouble with ace Luis Severino out until after the All-Star break, but one of the break out pitching stars of this season is a guy who wouldn't be in the rotation had everyone been healthy: Domingo German (8-1, 2.41). He held the Orioles to a run over seven in his last outing. German leads the AL in wins and is among the ERA and WHIP (0.95) leaders. He looks like a totally different pitcher than the guy who went 2-6 with a 5.57 ERA last year as a rookie. Baltimore's David Hess (1-5, 5.58) lost at Yankee Stadium last Wednesday, allowing five runs (four homers) over six innings. Hess has a 7.59 ERA over his past five and might soon find himself out of a job. The Yankees' Gary Sanchez is 3-for-7 with two homers off him.
Key trends: The Orioles are 3-16 in Hess' past 19 starts. The over is 5-0-1 in German's previous six on the road.
Early lean: Yankees on runline and over.
Braves at Giants (+115, 8)
Second ESPN game. Atlanta's Julio Teheran (3-4, 3.88) threw five scoreless innings last time out vs. the Cardinals but lasted only that long because he was at 104 pitches. Batters are hitting .123 off him in his past three outings, which he credits to using his curve more often. San Francisco's Brandon Belt is 7-for-15 with two solo homers against Teheran. It's rookie Shaun Anderson (0-0, 3.60) for the Giants. His big-league debut was Wednesday at home vs. Toronto, allowing two earned over five. Anderson was a third-round pick out of the University of Florida by Boston in 2016 and traded to the Giants during the 2017 season for Eduardo Nunez. Anderson was the Giants' No. 4 overall prospect.
Key trends: The Braves are 7-2 in Teheran's past nine vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 4-1 in his previous five.
Early lean: Braves and under.
Diamondbacks at Padres (-101, 6.5)
This start was in some jeopardy for Arizona's Zack Greinke (6-1, 2.78). He felt pain in his side and was diagnosed with abdominal tightness during the eighth inning of his start last Wednesday against the Pirates. But an MRI revealed no damage and Greinke felt OK after throwing a bullpen session Saturday. He dominated Pittsburgh with 7.2 scoreless innings. Greinke is 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts this year vs. San Diego. Wil Myers is just 5-for-40 career off him with 14 strikeouts. Padres lefty Matt Strahm (1-3, 3.07) lost at the Dodgers in his most recent outing, allowing two runs over five. He's 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA in two starts this year vs. Arizona. Eduardo Escobar is 3-for-9 with a homer off him.
Key trends: The Diamondbacks are 4-1 in Greinke's past five in San Diego. The under is 9-2-2 in Strahm's past 13.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and under.
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