The 2018 MLB season has been full of surprises, maybe none mores so than the reemergence of Clay Buchholz. He toes the rubber tonight for the Diamondbacks, while a surprising team, the NL East leading Phillies, travel to San Diego to take on the Padres. We break down the complete MLB schedule with in-depth analysis, tips and our favorite picks in today's edition of MLB Daily Line Drive.
The Diamondbacks continue to surprise and cling on to first place in the National League West. They’ll try to extend that lead when they begin a three-game weekend set at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.
The D-backs have gotten some very surprising performances that have helped them climb to the top of the division. None more surprising than that of the resurgence of Clay Buchholz.
The D-backs essentially picked Buchholz off the trash heap in mid-May and he has been brilliant ever since. In 10 starts, he has a 2.68 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. His numbers on the road get even better, dropping to 2.10 and 0.93. The Reds are also 0-6 in their last six games vs. a right-handed starter.
Cincinnati counters with Anthony DeSclafani. It’s been an inconsistent season for the 28-year-old right-hander, with a 4.98 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP and those numbers balloon to 5.65 and 1.47 at home.
This is a good price for a clearly superior team.
Pick: Diamondbacks -130
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Speaking of surprises, everyone knew the Phillies were close to making a jump to being a good team, but almost no one (outside of Philly) thought they would be leading the NL East at this point in the season. But that’s exactly where they sit as they begin a three-game set in San Diego versus the Padres.
The Phillies lead the Braves by one game in the division, and after a tough series against some very good pitching in Arizona, they’ll look for the bats to wake up against a lesser Padres staff, beginning with tonight’s starter Jacob Nix.
Nix is making his major league debut. The 22-year-old is ranked No. 14 of Padres prospects according to MLB pipeline (which is probably even better considering the state of the Padres farm system) and has been great in the minors with a 1.84 combined ERA in AA and AAA this season, but this is The Show and the Phillies will try to give him a rude welcoming.
Meanwhile, Zach Eflin toes the rubber for the Phillies. The tall right-hander is in a bit of a funk right now, pitching to a 5.57 ERA and a 1.19 ERA in his last four starts, which includes giving up seven, count ‘em, seven dingers.
Both lineups are just good enough to send this game over the total.
Pick: Over 8
Yesterday's Picks: 0-2
Season Record: 119-129-3
Streaking and Slumping Starting Pitchers
The Yankees were looking to boost their rotation at the trade deadline and they kind of did that with the acquisitions of JA Happ and Lance Lynn. But the biggest boost to their rotation has been there all along. Masahiro Tanaka has been absolutely dealing since the All-Star break.
The Japanese right-hander has a ridiculous 0.46 ERA and an 0.81 WHIP in three starts since the break. His strikeouts are also way up, punching out 26 batters compared to just four walks. Tanaka and the Yanks are big -220 home favorites tonight against the Rangers.
Burch Smith is living his dream. Five years after getting called up for a cup of coffee with the Padres in 2013, Smith is back in the Majors, and now starting for the Royals. The downside? He’s starting for the Royals.
The career minor-leaguer was called up as a reliever, but the Royals have since made him a starter and it hasn’t gone well. Smith has an 8.27 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP in five starts. To be fair to Smith though, pretty much very Royal has been slumping all season. Smith and the Royals are +133 home underdogs going up against the in-state rival Cardinals.
3 Up, 3 Down
A Sneaky Under
According to our Covers Consensus, the Over 8.5 in this afternoon's Nationals-Cubs game is the most popular total play of the day. But we think the other side is a sneaky good play. And here's why.
Both Jeremy Hellickson and Kyle Henricks are pitching better than their numbers suggest. Plus, here's some interesting trends. The Under is 7-0 in Hellickson's lastseven road starts and 13-3 in his last 16 starts overall. While the Under is 21-4-1 in Hendricks' last 26 home starts versus a team with a winning record.Oh, and the wind is blowing in at Wrigley straight in from center at 10-12 miles per hour for the game.
The Windy City
Hitters could be given a hand tonight when the White Sox host the Indians because, guess what? The Windy City will be windy tonight. The forecast is calling for winds gusting out to right field between 12 and 14 miles per hour around first pitch.
Cleveland's starter Shane Bieber has a 4.58 ERA and while Chicgao starter Carlos Rodon has been strong, he usually hands the ball over to a bullpen that ranks 24th in ERA. With the weather assist look at the Over 9 for tonight's game.
Houston, We Have a Home Problem
The Astros are going to win the American League West. Probably. But they're in the midst of a bit of an unthinkable slump at Minute Maid Park, espcially considering their starting pitching rotation.
The Astros have lost five consecutive ball games at home, culminating with last night's shocking outing from Justin Verlander, in what was one of the worst starts of his career and defintely the worst of his Houston tenure.
The Astros have been outscored by 19 runs in those five games. The Houston lineup and staff is too talented for this to continue. They go up against a ho-hum starter in Mike Leake tonight, so look for the Astros bats to bust out tonight. Maybe parlay the Astors with the Over 7.5.
Friday's Top Consensus
Here are the top side and total plays according to the public in our Covers Consensus. Get up-to-the-minute consensus data for every game here.