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Minnesota vs. Pittsburgh,
04/02/2018 13:05 EDT,
Score: 4 - 5
Money Line: -130 Pittsburgh
8* Pittsburgh (1:10 ET): After playing a doubleheader on Sunday (swept the Tigers), you might think that the Pirates are at a bit of a disadvantage Monday. But they are returning home where they'll now play under "NL rules" (i.e. no DH) against an American League team. It's early enough in the season where I don't view fatigue from "playing two" the previous day to be considered any real factor. Plus, the reason for yday's doubleheader was a rainout Saturday, so the Bucs have already had a day off. Today, they'll welcome in a Minnesota club that I'll be looking to play AGAINST more often than not in 2018. That's because regression is only natural following last year's stunning jump from 59 (in '16) to 85 wins and a Wild Card berth. This is a good price on the 3-0 Bucs in their home opener.
The Twins opened their season by taking two of three from Baltimore. They lost Opening Day in extra innings, but bounced back w/ convincing wins by scores of 6-2 and 7-0. Now they are 10-4 the L2 seasons following a shutout win. Sunday saw starter Jose Berrios pitch a three-hitter in his first career game. But the starting rotation is NOT the strength of this Twins team. Today, it will be Lance Lynn getting the baseball, his first start in a Minnesota uniform since coming over from St. Louis via free agency. But the Pirates are no strangers to Lynn. They've faced him 23 times and the results haven't been that good for the right-hander, who is only 7-7 (just 4 quality starts) w/ a 5.10 ERA. Remember that the Twins, an AL team, are at somewhat of a disadvantage here due to losing the DH. Lynn is used to hitting, but it's clearly a downgrade in the lineup. Minnesota was favored on the ML only 73 times last season, making them a clear overachiever that is due to regress in 2018.
Pittsburgh will counter Lynn w/ Jameson Taillon. While Lynn is two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Taillon had his own "trials and tribulations" as he fought cancer last season. Despite that, he still managed to go 8-7 in 25 starts his rookie season. He also looked sharp in his last Spring start, tossing three scoreless innings. The Twins lineup, when at full strength, is pretty formidable. But Taillon gets a break here w/ the game contested under NL rules. Now Pittsburgh took full advantage of the DH in Detroit, scoring 13 and 8 runs in two of the three games. But they also won a 1-0 game yday. They've won four straight home openers and like I said earlier, this is a good price on them. Also, the Twins are just 48-72 in day games the L3 seasons. 8* Pittsburgh