Interesting news out of New York this week as the Mets have decided to go to a six-man rotation in order to keep the innings down on the season for young right-handers Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. Pitching coach Dan Warthen indicated the Mets likely will stick with that extra starter in the rotation through early-to-mid-August. So that means the Mets will have a very thin bench for position players (probably four, and one has to be a backup catcher) for a few months. They better hope for no 18-inning games. It's not a big deal in September when rosters can be expanded. It was either move to a six-man group or Mets manager Terry Collins told that trio he would start yanking them after five innings. Or they were each going on the disabled list for a few weeks at different times. I guess this is smarter than just ending the season off Harvey in September like Washington did with Stephen Strasburg three years ago, then that blew up in the Nats' faces when they lost in the playoffs to St. Louis.
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Marlins at Mets (-176, 6.5)
It's not a shock the Mets made this decision this week because last time out Harvey (5-2, 2.91) had the worst start of his career, allowing seven runs in four innings against the Pirates. The team said after he was suffering from a "dead arm." Harvey threw his normal bullpen session Tuesday without issue and thus will be good to go here. He pitched at home against Miami on April 19 and had his second-worst start of the season, allowing four runs and eight hits over six innings but still got the win. Giancarlo Stanton is 1-for-9 with four strikeouts off him. Marcell Ozuna has had some success, going 4-for-9 with a triple and two RBIs. It's Dan Haren (4-2, 3.09) for Miami. He has allowed two combined runs over 14 innings in his past two outings. He hasn't faced the Mets this year. Michael Cuddyer struggles with Haren, batting .194 with 11 strikeouts in 31 at-bats. Curtis Granderson has three homers but 16 Ks in 39 at-bats.
Key trends: The Marlins are 1-9 in their past 10 after a loss. They are 1-7 in their past eight road games vs. teams with a winning record. The Mets are 4-0 in Harvey's past four against teams with a losing record. The "over/under" has hit under in six of Harvey's past eight with five days of rest. The over is 9-1 in the past 10 meetings in New York.
Early lean: Mets and under.
Rays at Orioles (-128, 8)
Tampa is hoping to have two injured players back in this one in outfielder: Steven Souza (wrist) and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (groin). Souza hasn't played since May 24 while Cabrera has been limited to pinch-hitting the past few games. This is the first time these teams have played in Baltimore this season but not the first time the Orioles were the home club. The teams played in Florida May 1-3 because of the civil disobedience in Baltimore. The Orioles batted last in those three games and won two. Nathan Karns (3-2, 3.71) gets the call for Tampa. He is 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in two starts against Baltimore this season. Chris Davis has a homer in five at-bats off him. Adam Jones is 3-for-7 with a double and two RBIs. Baltimore's Miguel Gonzalez (5-3, 3.83) has struggled in three of four starts this month with a 4.15 May ERA. He is 1-1 with a 0.68 ERA in two starts vs. Tampa. Souza is 1-for-5 with two strikeouts against him.
Key trends: The Rays are 0-5 in their past five against teams with a losing record. The Orioles are 4-1 in their past five series openers. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings in Baltimore.
Early lean: Orioles and over.
Dodgers at Cardinals (-122, 7.5)
The Cardinals will be without first baseman Matt Adams for perhaps the rest of the season as he was placed on the 15-day DL with a torn quad. He will undergo surgery on Friday. Adams was hitting .243 with four homers and 20 RBIs. Mark Reynolds will take over full time at first base, but the Cards are going to have to make a deal because Reynolds shouldn't be an every-day player. This is the first meeting of the teams since last year's NLDS, won by St. Louis. And it should have live betting at the sportsbooks as it's televised by the MLB Network. How good has the Dodgers' Mike Bolsinger (3-0, 0.71) been? This was a guy designated for assignment by Arizona after last season. He hasn't allowed more than a run in four starts in 2015. Bolsinger has never faced St. Louis. The Cardinals' John Lackey (2-3, 3.18) will be happy to be home because his past three have been on the road and the Cards lost them all. He has a 1.63 home ERA. Adrian Gonzalez hits .353 off him with four RBIs in 17 at-bats.
Key trend: The Dodgers have won six straight Friday games. The Cards are 9-1 in Lackey's past 10 at home. The under is 6-0 in his past six overall.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
Nationals at Reds (+133, 7.5)
Cincinnati believes second baseman Brandon Phillips will be back in the lineup Friday. He hasn't started since Monday because he aggravated a turf toe injury. Phillips is batting .297 with two homers and 18 RBIs. Phillips is 3-for-10 in his career off Washington starter Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 6.50), who continues to be the weak link of the Nats' rotation. He was rocked again last time out, lasting only 3.2 innings against the Phillies and allowing six runs and seven hits. Odd because he is still throwing as hard as ever. Marlon Byrd hits .316 with a homer and six RBIs against him. Cincinnati's Anthony DeSclafani (2-4, 3.46) comes off one of his best starts, holding the Indians to a run and three hits over seven innings. Washington's Bryce Harper is 1-for-1 off him.
Key trends: The Nats are 7-1 in their past eight series openers. They are 0-4 in Strasburg's past four against teams with a losing record. The Reds have lost nine straight against right-handers. The over is 5-0 in Strasburg's past five on the road.
Early lean: As of this writing, the Reds are the only home dogs on the board. And I'm taking them because Strasburg is still being overvalued. Go over.
Diamondbacks at Brewers (-130, 8.5)
Sad-sack Milwaukee will activate shortstop Jean Segura off the disabled list on Friday. He has been out since May 12 with a finger injury. Segura is hitting .262 with 12 RBIs and six steals. Segura will get his first career look at Diamondbacks starter Rubby De La Rosa (4-2, 4.27). He allowed four runs over six innings last time out in a no-decision against the Cubs. De La Rosa is 1-2 with a 4.39 ERA on the road this season and has never faced Milwaukee. Adam Lind has and is 2-for-5 with a double. Milwaukee's Jimmy Nelson (2-5, 3.67) is getting better as he has allowed three runs over 13.2 innings in his past two starts -- both on the road. He is 1-2 with a 2.83 ERA at home. Nelson has never faced an Arizona hitter in the majors.
Key trends: Arizona is 1-4 in its past five after an off day. The Brewers are 0-5 in Nelson's past five series openers. The over is 8-2 in Milwaukee's past 10 at home against right-handers.
Early lean: Brewers and over.
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