Baltimore Orioles All-Star closer Zach Britton, otherwise known as the guy Manager Buck Showalter stupidly didn't use in the 2016 AL Wild-Card game in Toronto, is going to miss 10 days or so with a left forearm strain. Britton had arguably the best season ever by a reliever last year and has converted 54 straight save opportunities, tied for the second-longest American League streak of all time. Five of those are this season. Sometimes forearm strains can lead to major problems, but the Orioles are confident this is minor, and the southpaw hasn't had any problems previously. Since the start of the 2014 season, Britton has 125 saves and a 1.38 ERA along with a 0.94 WHIP. Brad Brach should take over Britton's role.
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Red Sox at Blue Jays (-150, 8.5)
ESPN's Buster Olney speculated that if the Blue Jays don't turn things around soon that they could be a quick seller. If the Jays don't think they can afford Josh Donaldson when he hits free agency after next season, they might just trade him this season. He's currently on the 10-day DL with a sore right calf. Toronto goes with Marcus Stroman (1-1, 1.76) here. He deserved better last time out, throwing a complete game vs. the Brewers and allowing two runs in a loss. Stroman was 0-1 with a 9.92 ERA last year in three starts vs. Boston. Xander Bogaerts is 8-for-17 off him with a homer. Boston lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 5.23) was set to start here but his wife just had a baby and he was placed on paternity leave. So it would appear that the team will call up 26-year-old lefty Brian Johnson from Triple-A to make the spot start. Guy has had a rough go in the minors in that he has been hit in the head with a line drive twice in five years. The last one was less than two weeks ago, but he came off that OK and has allowed two runs in 10-2/3 innings over his first two starts this year. Johnson has a career 3.14 ERA in Triple-A.
Key trends: The Jays are 4-1 in Stroman's past five at home vs. Boston. The "over/under" has gone under in his past nine starts overall.
Early lean: Blue Jays and under.
Tigers at Rays (+105, 8)
You will want to monitor the status of Tigers star Miguel Cabrera for a while as he left Sunday's game with a lower back issue. Cabrera had just hit an RBI single and advanced to second base on another hit when he signaled to the dugout. Manager Brad Ausmus was planning to sit him at least one game of this series because of the artificial turf at Tropicana Field. It's 2016 AL Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer (1-0, 2.25) for the Tigers. He threw six shutout innings in his season debut vs. Boston and then allowed three runs over six innings last time out vs. Minnesota. This will be his first road start. Fulmer was 2-0 last year vs. the Rays with a 0.64 ERA. Evan Longoria has a homer in six at-bats off him. Tampa's Matt Andriese (0-0, 4.50) allowed a run over six innings in his most recent start at the Yankees. He is 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA in five career appearances against the Tigers. If Cabrera plays, he's 1-for-4 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Tigers are 6-1 in Fulmer's past seven vs. teams with a losing record. The Rays are 2-5 in Andriese's past seven at home. The under is 4-1 in Fulmer's past five on the road.
Early lean: Tigers and under.
Orioles at Reds (+120, 9)
Baltimore loses the DH for this interleague series. That's usually 2016 home run champion Mark Trumbo, but he can also play right field. The Birds go with Ubaldo Jimenez (0-0, 10.38) on the mound, and he might be pitching for his job. He has allowed five earned runs in 4.1 innings in both starts - and the Orioles managed to win them both. In six career starts against the Reds, Jimenez has a 3-0 record and 3.00 ERA. Joey Votto is 5-for-15 off him with two doubles and four walks. Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo (0-2, 9.90) looks rather shot at age 40. He missed 2015 & '16 due to injuries after being incredibly durable for years. He has allowed at least five earned in each of his starts this year and also could be pitching for his job. "The next two times out, if I don't see something a little bit crisper and able to keep us in the ballgame a little bit better, maybe you're at a dead-end street," Arroyo said following his last outing. "I'm not sure."
Key trends: The Orioles are 7-1 in Jimenez's past eight interleague starts. The Reds are 1-7 in Arroyo's past eight vs. the AL. The over is 14-6-1 in Jimenez's past 21 overall.
Early lean: Orioles and over.
Brewers at Cubs (-172, TBA)
The Cubs are learning what life is like with a bulls-eye on their backs as they were swept over the weekend at home by Pittsburgh. The Pirates went 4-14 against the Cubs last season, including 1-8 in Chicago. The Cubs go with lefty Brett Anderson (1-0, 0.84), who has been everything the team could have asked for and more after signing a one-year deal. Anderson has always been good but he can't stay healthy. He pitched in Milwaukee on April 7 and allowed a run in 5.2 innings. Ryan Braun is 2-for-5 off him with a homer. The Brewers' Jimmy Nelson tweaked his delivery over the winter and it has worked as Nelson is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA. He was opposite Anderson on April 7 and allowed a run in six innings in a no-decision. Anthony Rizzo is just 5-for-28 off him with seven strikeouts.
Key trends: The Brewers are 2-6 in Nelson's past eight vs. the Cubs. The under is 5-1-1 in his last six against them.
Early lean: Cubs.
Diamondbacks at Padres ( -104, 8 )
Apparently Arizona's Shelby Miller (1-1, 5.06) is never going to be the guy he was in 2015 with Atlanta again, but at least he's giving his team a chance this year, allowing three earned in 5.1 innings in both of his starts. He was 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA in two starts last year vs. the Fathers. Yangervis Solarte is 2-for-10 off him with two RBIs. San Diego's Jarred Cosart (0-0, 3.86) was a fill-in starter for an injured Luis Perdomo and showed enough to stay put for now, shutting out the Rockies over four innings at Coors Field. He allowed one run in 5.2 innings last year vs. Arizona. Paul Goldschmidt is 2-for-5 against him with a double and RBI.
Key trends: The Diamondbacks are 1-9 in Miller's past 10 vs. the NL West. The Padres are 1-6 in Cosart's past six. The over is 5-2 in his previous seven at home.
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