The Phillies are caught between a rock and hard place with ace Cole Hamels. He was supposed to start Friday but was scratched with a hamstring injury. Do you put Hamels on the disabled list, thus costing him a few starts to potentially impress scouts -- the Phils absolutely want to trade him -- or do you let him pitch through it and risk a potential serious injury to your top asset? "He did not feel like it was a long term thing," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said of Hamels. He is 5-5 with a 2.96 ERA. By the way, entering Friday, Phillies starting pitchers have not earned a win since May 23 at Washington (Hamels, 8-1 win over Nationals).
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Pirates at Nationals (-135, 6.5)
Bryce Harper is finally living up to all the hype and is your clear NL MVP, but the guy is a bit brittle and is hurt again. I'm not sure how you strain a hamstring making a throw from the outfield, but that's what happened Thursday night as Harper took a tumble while trying to get a Rays runner out at home. The grass was wet, and that may have played a role. Harper looked like he was shot and at a minimum seems likely to miss a game or two. He was to be re-evaluated Friday. So it might be an easier Saturday afternoon for Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano (4-5, 2.94). He comes off an eight-inning, two-hit shutout over the White Sox and has a 1.29 ERA over his past five outings. Denard Span is 4-for-9 with a double off him. Anthony Rendon is 2-for-4 with an RBI. It's Max Scherzer (7-5, 1.93) on an extra day of rest for the Nats. He pitched the game of the year last time out (yes, more impressive than the Giants' no-hitter), a complete-game one-hitter with 16 strikeouts against Milwaukee. Scherzer lost a perfect game on a broken-bat single in the seventh. Andrew McCutchen is 4-for-14 with a homer and seven strikeouts off him.
Key trends: The Pirates are 2-8 in Liriano's past 10 vs. teams with a winning record. The Nats are 7-2 in their past nine against lefties. The "over/under" has hit in eight of Washington's past 12 against lefties.
Early lean: Certainly under. Go Nats.
Rays at Indians (-171, 7)
Keep an eye on whether Indians catcher Yan Gomes will be able to play here. He left Thursday's game against the Cubs with something called cervical tightness, which sounds rather painful. Gomes was awesome last year but has really struggled and already has missed a large chunk of 2015 due to injury. Erasmo Ramirez (6-2, 4.45) gets the call for the Rays. He has won four straight starts and allowed only three total runs in them. The Rays just seem to find these pitchers from out of nowhere (he was acquired from Seattle). The Tribe's Brandon Moss is 2-for-14 with a homer and seven strikeouts off him. Cleveland ace Corey Kluber is 3-8 despite a 3.54 ERA. He's second in the AL in strikeouts. The Indians have lost his past three, not scoring more than two runs in any of them. David DeJesus is 3-for-9 with two doubles against him.
Key trends: The Indians are 8-1 in Kluber's past nine against the AL East. They are 1-6 in Kluber's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 11-1 in Kluber's past 12 pitching on five days of rest.
Early lean: Tribe at +125 on runline, under.
Mets at Braves (+115, 7.5)
Keep an eye on whether Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman can go here. He sat out Thursday's game with a sprained right hand, ending his big-league-best streak of 234 consecutive games played. So, yeah, I think Cal Ripken Jr.'s record is safe. Freeman doesn't think it's serious, so he might even play Friday. Terrific Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard (2-4, 3.76) starts this one. He was excellent last time out, holding the high-powered Blue Jays to a run and two hits over six innings, striking out a career-high 11. He has never faced Atlanta. Braves rookie Williams Perez (3-0, 2.29) is much less-heralded but has been even better. He hasn't allowed an earned run over his past three outings. One of those was an inning of scoreless relief when Williams got a save vs. the Mets.
Key trends: The Braves are 5-0 in their past five on Saturday. The under is 5-1-1 in Syndergaard's past seven overall. The over is 6-1 in Atlanta's past seven on Saturday.
Early lean: Under again and take a shot with Braves as long as Freeman plays.
Astros at Mariners (+107, 6.5)
Fine pitching matchup here. Houston starts ace left-hander Dallas Keuchel (8-2, 2.04), who is certainly in contention to start the All-Star Game. The Astros have lost two of his past three, but all three were quality starts. This is his first look at Seattle this season. Nelson Cruz is 5-for-10 with a homer and three RBIs vs. Keuchel. Mark Trumbo is 4-for-7 with two triples, a homer and five RBIs. Mariners 22-year-old right-hander Taijuan Walker (4-6, 5.00) doesn't have great numbers but is starting to show why he was such a highly-regarded prospect. He has had four straight quality starts, allowing a total of five runs. He was shelled in Houston on May 2, allowing eight runs and three homers in three innings. George Springer is 2-for-6 with a homer against him.
Key trends: The Astros are 6-2 in Keuchel's past eight on the road. The Mariners are 1-5 in Walker's past six against teams with a winning record. The under is 5-1 in Keuchel's past six against teams with a losing record. The over is 5-0 in Walker's past five vs. Houston.
Early lean: Yep, under. Take Seattle.
Giants at Dodgers (-142, 7.5)
I'm not sure what the Dodgers are waiting for in promoting top prospect Corey Seager, who could play shortstop in place of a hugely struggling Jimmy Rollins. But Manager Don Mattingly said as long as Rollins stays healthy that Seager would stay in Triple-A. Carlos Frias (4-4, 4.14) starts for the Dodgers. He has alternated lousy starts with good ones, so he's due a good one as last time he allowed four runs in 5.1 innings in Texas. He is 1-1 with a 1.23 ERA in two starts this season against the Giants. Angel Pagan is 3-for-6 with an RBI off him. Brandon Crawford has a homer in six at-bats. Giants veteran Tim Hudson (4-6, 4.65) has faced the Dodgers once this season, shutting them out over 6.1 innings. Rollins is a career .231 hitter off him with three homers in 91 at-bats. Adrian Gonzalez is 10-for-29 with two homers.
Key trends: The Giants are 1-6 in Hudson's past seven on four days of rest. The under is 4-1 in his past five road games vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Dodgers and under. Hey, it feels like a pitchers' day.
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