The last time the New York Yankees and Mets both made the playoffs was in 2006. The team from Queens hasn't been there since. It's going to happen again this October as the Mets are closing in on clinching the National League East, and the Bombers probably will be the AL's top wild-card team but still have a shot at the AL East title. I still am not used to interleague play this late in the season, but the Yankees visit Citi Field for three games starting Friday night. The Yankees took two of three against the visiting Mets way back in late April -- these Mets are a much better team now with some key additions around the trade deadline, most notably Yoenis Cespedes. I hate New York teams, but it should be a pretty electric series. And of course they are all nationally televised.
Cardinals at Cubs (-105, TBA)
The Cubs generally play matinees at home on Friday, and that's the case here as they return home from a big series in Pittsburgh. This has a 2;20 p.m. ET start and will have live betting at sportsbooks as it will be shown on the MLB Network. Look for Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler to return to the starting lineup Friday. He was activated off the DL for Thursday's finale vs. the Pirates but didn't start. Soler had been out since Aug. 23 with an oblique injury. The Cubs have a pretty deep outfield now with his return and the trade for Austin Jackson. It's Dan Haren (9-9, 3.87) for the Cubs. He hasn't been very good with Chicago, but his best outing by far was Sept. 7 at St. Louis, shutting out the Cards over seven innings. Matt Holliday is 8-for-26 with three homers and six RBIs off him. Matt Carpenter is 0-for-11. The Cards' Lance Lynn (11-10, 3.17) was shelled opposite Haren on Sept. 7, allowing six runs over 2.1 innings. Starling Castro hits .351 off him in 37 at-bats. Anthony Rizzo has two homers and seven RBIs in 27 at-bats off Lynn.
Key trends: The Cards are 4-1 in Lynn's past five on road. The Cubs are 17-4 in their past 21 at home. The "over/under" is 3-1-1 in Lynn's past five vs. Chicago. The Cards are 2-5 in his past seven against the Cubs.
Early lean: Cardinals and over (unless wind blowing in).
Yankees at Mets (+103, 7)
Live betting at sportsbooks with game on MLB Network. One key thing to note in this series: the Yankees lose their team MVP this season in Alex Rodriguez. Manager Joe Girardi already has said that A-Rod, his designated hitter, will not be forced into playing a position in the field, which he hasn't since May. So A-Rod will only be available as a pinch-hitter. The Yanks go with Masahiro Tanaka (12-6, 3.40). He shut out the Blue Jays on four hits over seven innings last time out. He hasn't faced the Mets this year. Cespedes has seen him the most of any Met, going 3-for-10 with two RBIs. Rookie lefty Steven Matz (3-0, 1.88) makes his fifth big-league start and only second at home. He's a New York native so I'm sure this will be huge for him.
Key trends: The Yankees are 13-2 in Tanaka's past 15 vs. teams with a winning record. The Mets are 7-1 in their past eight vs. right-handers. The over is 4-0 in the Yanks' past four vs. lefties. The under is 4-1 in Tanaka's past five interleague starts.
Early lean: Mets and under.
Marlins at Nationals (-154, 6.5)
Two hugely disappointing teams, both of which will have new managers next season. And it's a spectacular pitching matchup. It's 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez (5-0, 2.06) for Miami. He returned from missing a month or so on Sept. 12 and shut out these Nationals on two hits over five innings. Red-hot Bryce Harper is 2-for-8 career off him. Ian Desmond might get the night off. He's 0-for-14 with 10 strikeouts. It's 2013 AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer (12-11, 2.91) for Washington. He had his best start in more than a month on Sept. 13 in Miami, shutting out the Fish on five hits over eight innings. Dee Gordon is a career .318 hitter off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Marlins are 13-3 in Fernandez's past 16 vs. teams with a winning record. But they are 2-8 in his past 10 on road vs. winning clubs. The Nats are 1-5 in Scherzer's past six at home. The over is 8-3 in Fernandez's past 11. The over is 3-0-1 in Scherzer's past four at home.
Early lean: Nationals and under.
Royals at Tigers (-108, 8)
Pretty important start for Kansas City's Johnny Cueto (9-12, 3.47). The right-hander is in the worst slump of his career, going 0-5 with a 9.57 ERA in his past five outings. The Royals have little chance of winning the pennant if he doesn't get turned around soon. Cueto is 1-2 with a 2.96 ERA in four starts against Detroit this season. Miguel Cabrera is 3-for-6 with a dinger off him. Victor Martinez is 0-for-16. The Tigers' Justin Verlander (3-8, 3.58) has lost back-to-back starts, both to Cleveland. He is 1-1 with a 4.61 ERA in two starts vs. Kansas City this season. Salvador Perez hits .488 off Verlander with two homers and 13 RBIs in 41 at-bats. Kendrys Morales is at .367 with two dingers and 10 RBIs in 30 at-bats.
Key trends: The Tigers are 1-8 in Verlander's past nine at home. The over is 6-0 in Cueto's past six. The over is 6-2-1 in Verlander's past nine vs. K.C.
Early lean: Tigers and over.
Pirates at Dodgers (-200, 6.5)
Tough trip across country for Pittsburgh after finishing a home series with the Cubs on Thursday afternoon. And in that game, excellent Pirates rookie shortstop Jung Ho Kang left in the first inning with what on the MLB Network looked like a serious knee/leg injury suffered while turning a double play. Keep an eye on that. If it's serious, I will no doubt lead with it previewing Saturday's games. The Pirates start lefty Jeff Locke (8-10, 4.43). His rotation spot was in some jeopardy, but Locke has allowed one earned in each of his past two outings. He hasn't faced the Dodgers in 2015. It's NL Cy Young leader Zack Greinke for L.A. Greinke (17-3, 1.61) still leads the majors in ERA and WHIP (0.85). It's his first look at Pittsburgh this year. Greinke is 8-1 with a 1.41 ERA at home. Andrew McCutchen does fairly well off him, going 7-for-24 with three doubles and a homer.
Key trends: The Pirates are 1-4 in Locke's past five road starts against teams with a winning record. The Dodgers are 18-4 in Greinke's past 22 at home vs. teams with a winning record. The over has hit in seven of Locke's past 10. The under is 8-2 in Greinke's past 10 at home.
Early lean: Dodgers on runline (+105) and under.
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