The trade market for pitching should really heat up now after Thursday's deal sent Oakland's Scott Kazmir to his hometown of Houston for two prospects, catcher Jacob Nottingham and right-handed pitcher Daniel Mengden. Kazmir was 5-5 with a 2.38 ERA in 18 starts for the A's and was supposed to pitch on Thursday. Now he was to make his Astros debut on Friday night. The last time Kazmir was traded during the season was 2009, and he had been struggling mightily with Tampa Bay. He was excellent with the Angels after the deal. This certainly won't be the final trade the A's make, and I'm not sure Houston is done, either. I still don't think it will beat out the Angels for the AL West. It wouldn't surprise if Kazmir re-signs with the Astros this offseason.
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Phillies at Cubs (-155, TBA)
How cool would it be if the Phillies traded Cole Hamels to the Cubs during Saturday's game? Doubt that happens, although it has in MLB history, but I could see this being Hamels' last start in a Phillies uniform and his next in a Cubs one. Shoot, if the sides are close, the Cubs should pull the trigger just to avoid facing him. They reportedly are offering Starlin Castro and Javier Baez, and the Phillies aren't interested in that package. The distraction of a move might be getting to Hamels as he has allowed 14 runs and 20 hits over 6.1 innings in his past two starts. Chris Coghlan hits him best of any Cub, going 9-for-26 with two homers and four RBIs. It's ace Jake Arrieta (11-5, 2.52) for Chicago as he goes for a sixth straight win. He hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his past six (but lost one). No Phillies have seen him much.
Key trends: The Phillies are 8-3 in Hamels' past 11 vs. teams with a winning record. The Cubs are 8-2 in their past 10 against a lefty. They are 6-0 in Arrieta's past six vs. the NL East. The "over/under" has gone under in five of Hamels' past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 7-2-1 in Arrieta's past 10 at home.
Early lean: Cubs and no matter the number, under.
Blue Jays at Mariners (+100, 7.5)
Monitor the status of Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes for this game. He was hit in the face with a ball during the eighth inning of Thursday's game against Oakland on a ricochet throw from the outfield. The Jays think he's OK, but you never know if those types of things can lead to a concussion. Ryan Goins would play short if Reyes sits. The Jays start Marco Estrada (7-5, 3.22) here. He has turned into the team's ace. Last time out, he blanked Tampa on three hits over eight innings. Seattle's Nelson Cruz is 2-for-3 with a homer off him. Seattle lefty J.A. Happ (4-5, 4.12), acquired from Toronto this offseason, is 1-5 with a 5.54 ERA in his past seven starts. Reyes may just sit regardless as he's only 2-for-16 career off Happ.
Key trends: Toronto is 4-1 in Estrada's past five on the road. The Mariners are 0-4 in Happ's past four at home. The under is 4-1 in Toronto's past five against lefties. The over is 5-1 in Happ's past six vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Mariners and over.
Nationals at Pirates (-128, 7)
Pittsburgh also made a deal Thursday, acquiring third baseman Aramis Ramirez, a former Pirate, for a minor-league pitcher. The 37-year-old Ramirez is way past his prime and said he will retire after this season, but Pittsburgh needed infield help after losing third baseman Josh Harrison and shortstop Jordy Mercer to multiple-week injuries. If Ramirez, who has been hitting better of late, doesn't debut Friday, he should here. Smart, low-risk deal for the Bucs. Ramirez will face Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez (7-4, 3.93). He has really turned his season around, allowing just four runs over his past four starts. He shut out Pittsburgh over seven innings on June 21. Ramirez is 0-for-5 career off him. It's All-Star A.J. Burnett (8-3, 2.44) for the Bucs, who have won his past four. He didn't pitch well in Washington on June 19, allowing a season-high 14 hits over 6.2 innings and four runs. Bryce Harper is 5-for-19 with a solo homer off him.
Key trends: The Nats are 8-3 in Gonzalez's past 11 vs. teams with a winning record. The Pirates are 7-1 in their past eight at home vs. lefties. They are 7-1 in Burnett's past eight vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 5-1 in Burnett's past six vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Pirates and under.
Braves at Cardinals (-183, 6.5)
In a trade that has really worked out for both teams, St. Louis sent Shelby Miller to Atlanta this offseason for outfielder Jason Heyward (and reliever Jordan Walden). Miller (5-6, 2.33) makes his first start against the team that drafted him in 2009, so I'm sure this has extra meaning. Somehow Atlanta has lost Miller's past six. Probably because the Braves haven't score more than three runs in any of them. It's fellow All-Star Carlos Martinez (10-4, 2.51) for the Cards. He had to pitch four innings of relief on Sunday in that 18-inning game against the Mets, so that pushed back his scheduled Tuesday outing. This will be his first career start vs. Atlanta.
Key trends: The Braves are 1-4 in Miller's past five vs. teams with a winning record. The Cardinals are 5-0 in Martinez's past five vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 7-3 in Miller's past 10 on the road. The under is 8-0-1 in Martinez's past nine overall.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
Reds at Rockies (+119, 10.5)
Quite likely the final start in a Reds uniform for Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto (6-6, 2.79). The Reds will be sweating this one out because he hasn't been sharp of late, allowing seven runs over nine innings in his past two starts with seven walks. Remember, he also missed a start earlier this year with minor elbow trouble. This will be his first start against Colorado this season. Carlos Gonzalez is 4-for-13 with a homer and six RBIs against Cueto. DJ LeMahieu is 5-for-11. Rockies lefty Chris Rusin (3-3, 3.88) is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in five appearances at Coors Field this season. Marlon Byrd is 4-for-8 off him with an RBI. Joey Votto is 2-for-9 with a double and three RBIs.
Key trends: The Reds are 1-10 in their past 11 on Saturday. They are 1-4 in Cueto's past five vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 6-2 in Cueto's past eight on five days of rest. The Reds are 4-1 in Cueto's past five vs. Colorado.
Early lean: Rockies (Cueto doesn't look right) and under.
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