Probably the best double-play combination in Philadelphia Phillies history will be reunited with the Los Angeles Dodgers as early as Friday night after Los Angeles acquired former All-Star second baseman Chase Utley from the Phillies with some cash for two minor-leaguers. The Dodgers were looking for help at the position because Howie Kendrick remains sidelined with a hamstring injury. Utley had to waive his no-trade clause to approve the deal, but he grew up in nearby Long Beach and gets to end his career -- Utley can be a free agent after the season and might not get much interest if he still wants to play -- with a contender. Of course, this past offseason, the Dodgers traded for ex-Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Too bad this isn't 2008 or so as then L.A. might be the NL favorite. But Utley and Rollins are way past their primes, although Utley is 15-for-31 since coming off the disabled list.
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Dodgers at Astros (-120, 8)
Presumably Utley will be in the starting lineup for this series opener, but the team has made it clear the second base job is Kendrick's when he comes back in about three weeks. Utley has played some first base and has worked out at third base with the Phillies, so he could move into a utility role after Kendrick returns. The Dodgers had been using Enrique Hernandez at second but now can also use him in center to spell rookie Joc Pederson, who has been in a major funk since the All-Star break. Lefty Brett Anderson (7-7, 3.48) goes here for L.A. He bounced back from his worst start of the year by allowing three runs over six innings in a win over the Reds last time out. Houston's Carlos Gomez is 1-for-5 with two RBIs career off him. It's Mike Fiers (5-9, 3.87) for the Astros as he looks for his first win since coming over from Milwaukee. He faced the Dodgers on May 7 and allowed five runs over five innings. Utley is 1-for-2 off him. Andre Ethier is 4-for-6 with two extra-base hits.
Key trends: The Dodgers have lost five straight series openers. They are 1-4 in Anderson's past five vs. teams with a winning record. The Astros have won nine straight vs. left-handers. The "over/under" has gone under in six of Anderson's past eight on the road. The over is 4-1 in Houston's past five vs. a lefty.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
Twins at Orioles (-169, 8.5)
Minnesota has put good-looking rookie outfielder Aaron Hicks on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. To replace him, the club called up the former No. 1 overall prospect in baseball, outfielder Byron Buxton, from Triple-A. He was up for about two weeks earlier this year but that was cut short due to a thumb injury. Buxton had been crushing Triple-A pitching of late. He will take his first hacks Friday against Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen (7-6, 3.20). The Orioles have won the lefty's past five outings. He faced the Twins on July 6 and allowed two runs over seven innings. Joe Mauer is 5-for-14 off him. Brian Dozier is 5-for-13 with a homer. Lefty Tommy Milone (6-3, 3.65) gets the call for Minnesota. He won against Baltimore on July 8, allowing a run over seven innings. Chris Davis is 4-for-11 with two homers off him.
Key trends: The Twins are 2-5 in Milone's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The Orioles are 5-0 in Chen's past five vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 4-1 in Chen's past five vs. Minnesota.
Early lean: Orioles and under.
Diamondbacks at Reds (+113, 8)
Cincinnati will be without outfielder and big-league stolen base leader Billy Hamilton for the next few weeks as he was placed on the DL on Wednesday with a sprained capsule in his right shoulder. He is hitting just .226 but has 54 steals. Also monitor the status of second baseman Brandon Phillips after he left Wednesday's game with inflammation in his right biceps tendon. He might have to sit for a few. The Reds go with rookie left-hander David Holmberg (1-2, 5.95) here. He has made four starts this season and lost the past three. Holmberg hasn't faced Arizona. The Snakes' Rubby De La Rosa (10-5, 4.40) is 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA in his last six outings. He has never faced Cincinnati.
Key trends: Arizona is 2-5 in its past seven vs. a lefty. It is 5-1 in De La Rosa's past six overall. The under is 4-1 in De La Rosa's past five road starts vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and over.
Blue Jays at Angels (+128, 7)
Potentially big series here as the Jays are currently the AL wild-card leader and the Angels the No. 2 team. But both still could win their respective divisions as well. If season ended today, the Jays would host the Angels in that one-game playoff. It's a matchup of left-handed All-Stars in Friday's opener. For the Jays, it's David Price (11-4, 2.41). In three starts since his arrival from Detroit, Price is 2-0 with a 1.61 ERA. He lost in Anaheim with the Tigers on May 31, allowing four runs over 7.2 innings. Albert Pujols is just 3-for-15 off him but does have two solo homers. Mike Trout is 3-for-13 with seven strikeouts. The Angels have lost four of the past five starts of Hector Santiago (7-6, 2.86). He won in Toronto on May 19, allowing one earned over seven innings. Josh Donaldson is just 2-for-16 off him in his career.
Key trends: The Jays are 7-1 in their past eight after an off day. The Angels are 5-1 in Santiago's past six at home. The under is 7-1 in his past eight at home vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Jays and over.
White Sox at Mariners (-122, 6)
Clearly the pitching matchup of the night as the guys who finished second and third in last year's Cy Young voting square off. Seattle's Felix Hernandez (14-7, 3.65) just lost out to Corey Kluber for the award in 2014. King Felix hasn't been near as dominant this season, especially lately. He has allowed at least 11 hits and four runs in three of his past four starts. Hernandez's ERA is 11.23 in his seven losses. He hasn't faced the Pale Hose in 2015. Alexei Ramirez is 9-for-30 with two doubles off him. Adam LaRoche is 0-for-7 with four strikeouts. For the Sox, it's lefty Chris Sale (11-7, 3.32). He ended the Cubs' nine-game winning streak on Sunday with his best start of the year, shutting them on out one hit and striking out 15 over seven innings. Sale eats Austin Jackson's lunch as Jackson is 2-for-30 off him with 12 strikeouts. Thinking he might get the night off. Nelson Cruz hits Sale well, going 6-for-13 with two homers.
Key trends: The White Sox are 6-1 in Sale's past seven in Game 1 of a series. The Mariners are 12-5 in Hernandez's past 17 vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 4-1 in Sale's past five. The over is 4-1 in Hernandez's past five. Seattle has won five straight at home vs. Chicago behind Hernandez.
Early lean: Mariners and under.
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