Sometimes one win can turn a struggling team's season around. For that I give you the Washington Nationals, who were supposed to be a 100-win behemoth but are well below .500. On Tuesday in Atlanta, the Nats trailed by eight runs at one point but won on former Brave Dan Uggla's three-run homer in the top of the ninth inning. Now we see if the team can build off that with a big series at the Mets starting Thursday. Sportsbooks haven't given up on Washington as it remains the -250 favorite to take the NL East over New York (+220).
Phillies at Cardinals (-155, 7.5)
This game will have live betting at sportsbooks as it's a 1:45 start on the MLB Network. Life really begins post-Adam Wainwright for the Cardinals here as lefty Tim Cooney makes his big-league debut, taking the injured Wainwright's spot in the rotation for now. Cooney, a third-round pick in 2012 out of Wake Forest, has a 3.50 ERA and 324 strikeouts across 385 1/3 career minor-league innings. He led the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with 14 wins last season. David Buchanan (0-4, 7.52) goes for the Phillies. He had his best start of the season last time out (not saying much), allowing three runs and two hits in 6.2 innings vs. the Braves. Matt Carpenter is 3-for-6 with an RBI off him. Jhonny Peralta has a homer in five at-bats.
Key trends: The Phillies are 0-7 in Buchanan's past seven road starts. The Cards are 7-2 in their past nine Thursday games. The "over/under" has gone under in four of the Phillies' past five against a lefty.
Early lean: Love the over here between a struggling pitcher and a nervous rookie in his first start. Take the Cards.
Angels at A's (-101, 8)
Oakland second baseman Ben Zobrist underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday, and the A's are hoping he will be back in their lineup by June 1 or so. He was hitting .240 with a homer and eight RBIs. The A's have re-inserted Jesse Chavez (0-1, 0.71) into the rotation, demoting Kendall Graveman to Triple-A. Chavez has a handful of relief appearances but did start last time out April 23 at these Angels, allowing one earned run and one hit in six innings. Albert Pujols is 7-for-16 with a homer and four RBIs off him. Mike Trout is 4-for-13 with two homers and five RBIs. Garrett Richards (1-1, 3.75) starts for the Halos. He held the Rangers to two runs and three hits in seven innings last time out. Josh Reddick is 5-for-12 off him. Billy Butler 0-for-8 with three strikeouts.
Key trends: The Angels are 7-2 in Richards' past nine road starts. The A's are 1-5 in Chavez' s past six vs. the AL West. The under is 6-0 in Richards' past six vs. the AL West. The Angels are 0-4 in Richards' past four in Oakland.
Early lean: Angels and under.
Reds at Braves (-123, 7)
Bad news for Cincinnati as it appears starting pitcher Homer Bailey could need season-ending elbow surgery. He is currently on the 60-day disabled list as the team decides whether to have the surgery. It seems pretty clear he will, which means Bailey won't be ready for next season. Mike Leake (0-1, 3.90) gets the call here for the Reds. They have lost his past three starts, but Leake has pitched pretty well. He goes here on an extra day of rest. Atlanta's Chris Johnson is 5-for-19 with two homers off him. Freddie Freeman is just 1-for-13, but that was a homer. Shelby Miller (3-0, 2.05) starts for Atlanta. He has yet to allow more than two earned runs in his four starts but also not gone more than six innings yet. Brandon Phillips is 6-for-17 with a homer off him. Joey Votto 1-for-8 with but with a homer, three RBIs and four walks.
Key trends: The Reds are 1-10 in Leake's past 11 on the road. The over is 7-2 in Leake's past nine starts overall. The under is 4-1 in his past five vs. Atlanta.
Early lean: Braves and under.
Nationals at Mets (-106, 6.5)
New York took two of three in Washington to start the season. Stephen Strasburg (1-2, 4.88) starts for the Nats. He has had only one quality start out of four this season. Last time out he allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings against the Marlins. He pitched in that opening series against the Mets and allowed six runs (three earned) and nine hits over 5.1 innings with three walks. Daniel Murphy is 4-for-13 with an RBI off him. Lucas Duda has a homer in seven at-bats. Michael Cuddyer is 4-for-12 with an RBI. Jacob deGrom (2-2, 2.96) starts for the Mets. He had one of the worst starts of his career last time out, getting tagged for six runs and eight hits (three homers) in five innings at the Yankees. He lost in his season opener at Washington, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings. Ian Desmond is 2-for-6 with a homer and three RBIs off him. Bryce Harper has two singles and two strikeouts in six at-bats.
Key trends: The Nats are 1-5 in Strasburg's past six series opening starts. The Mets are 7-1 in deGrom's past eight at home. The over is 9-3 in Strasburg's past 12 in Game 1 of a series. Washington is 5-2 in his past seven vs. New York.
Early lean: Nats and under.
Mariners at Astros (-116, 8.5)
Really tough break for the first-place Astros as they have lost shortstop Jed Lowrie until after the All-Star break as he will need surgery on a torn ligament in his right thumb. He was off to a great start, batting .300 with four homers and 10 RBIs. Lefty James Paxton (0-2, 6.86) starts for Seattle. His rotation spot might be shaky. He lasted only 4.2 innings last time out, giving up four runs against the Twins. Paxton has never faced Houston. It's Scott Feldman (2-2, 4.81) for the Astros. He has had three quality starts of his four. Feldman didn't face Seattle last year. Robinson Cano is 6-for-19 with two RBIs against him. Kyle Seager is 4-for-9 with four walks.
Key trends: Seattle is 7-3 in Paxton's past 10 vs. the AL West. Houston is 4-1 in its past five vs. a lefty. The Astros are 0-6 in Feldman's past six Game 1 starts. The over is 8-1 in the past nine meetings in Houston.
Early lean: Astros and over.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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