The shortstop career of three-time All-Star Starlin Castro is over -- at least it is with the Cubs. Manager Joe Maddon essentially admitted as much; rookie Addison Russell, who is a way better defensive player, is the guy going forward. Maddon wants Castro to transition to second base. He would play there against lefties and probably lefty-hitting Chris Coghlan would start against right-handers. Castro entered Tuesday's game against the Brewers at second in the sixth inning, the first time in his big-league career he had played anywhere but shortstop. He looked pretty good there, too. With one out in the ninth, he raced down the right-field line and made a sliding catch near the wall on Elian Herrera's foul pop. Second is easier to play than shortstop, so the Cubs are hoping this wakes up his bat as well.
Brewers at Cubs (-226, TBA)
I fully expect the Cubs to be going for the three-game sweep here; that presumes a win Wednesday night. The Brewers have thrown in the towel, and GM Doug Melvin just stepped down. That team's a mess right now. It's right-hander Tyler Cravy (0-3, 5.40) here for Milwaukee. It's Cravy's fourth big-league start and his second since replacing Kyle Lohse in the rotation. Cravy wasn't good last time out, allowing six runs and eight hits over five innings in a loss to the Cardinals. He has never faced the Cubs. It's lefty Jon Lester (7-8, 3.32) for the Cubs. He hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his past four starts. Lester beat the Brewers on May 1, shutting them out over seven innings. Because he's pitching, that means his personal catcher, David Ross, will be in the game. That weakens the Cubs lineup a bit, but Ross is great defender and pitch-framer.
Key trends: The Brewers are 7-2 in their past nine against left-handers. The Cubs are 6-1 in Lester's past seven vs. the NL Central. The "over/under" has gone under in nine of Lester's past 12 at home.
Early lean: Cubs on runline and under whatever number.
Rockies at Mets (-236, 7)
With this being an early start (12:10 p.m. ET) after a night game, some regulars could sit. One might be Mets first basemen Lucas Duda. He missed Tuesday night's game with a stiff back. Duda is hitting .247 with 21 homers and 55 RBIs. Colorado starts rookie Eddie Butler (3-9, 5.50). The Rockies have lost his past three, and Butler has allowed 14 runs over them. His last personal win was May 30. He has never faced the Mets. It's Noah Syndergaard (6-6, 3.01) for New York. He comes off a rough start at Tampa Bay, but he's just a different guy at Citi Field, going 6-1 with a 1.57 ERA this season. It's the rookie's first start against Colorado.
Key trends: The Rockies are 0-7 in Butler's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The Mets are 4-0 in Syndergaard's past four vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 7-1 in his past eight at home.
Early lean: Mets on runline and under.
A's at Blue Jays (-131, 8)
If there's one pitcher in the American League who can slow the runaway train that is Toronto, it's Oakland's Sonny Gray (12-4, 2.06). He's your AL ERA and WHIP (0.96) leader. I definitely want to see that mega-Jays lineup face him. Oakland has won Gray's past four. He held the Astros to a run and five hits in a complete game last time out. Gray took a no-decision on July 22 vs. Toronto, allowing two runs over seven innings. Jose Bautista is 5-for-10 with a homer off him. Scorching-hot Josh Donaldson is 2-for-3 with an RBI. It's Jays lefty Mark Buehrle (12-5, 3.34). He was supposed to pitch Wednesday, but for whatever reason the team swapped him and R.A. Dickey. Buehrle has allowed three runs or fewer in 12 consecutive starts. He won in Oakland on July 21, allowing a run over seven innings.
Key trends: The A's are 7-0 in Gray's past seven on the road. The Jays are 8-3 in Buehrle's past 11 at home. The under is 6-0-2 in Gray's past eight. The over is 4-0-1 in Buehrle's past five.
Early lean: A's and under.
Angels at Royals (-104, 8)
Keep an eye on Kansas City All-Star catcher Salvador Perez here. He was pulled from Tuesday's game against Detroit with inflammation and soreness in his wrist. Recent X-rays were negative. This is the Angels' first visit to Kansas City since getting swept out of last year's ALDS with an 8-3 loss there in Game 3 last October. Los Angeles starts Garrett Richards (11-9, 3.51). He is 1-1 with a 4.73 ERA in two starts this month. He hasn't faced K.C. this season. Perez, if he's in there, is 1-for-8 off him. Former Angel Kendrys Morales is 2-for-13 with a homer. Lorenzo Cain is 3-for-8 with two doubles and a homer. The Royals' Jeremy Guthrie (8-7, 5.84) has been rocked three straight starts, allowing 31 hits and 18 runs. Mike Trout is 6-for-16 with a homer off him. Albert Pujols just 3-for-17.
Key trends: The Angels are 7-1 in Richards' past eight series openers. The Royals are 1-4 in Guthrie's past five in Game 1 of a series. The over is 6-1 in Richards' past seven on the road. The under is 6-1 in Guthrie's past seven home starts vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Angels, even though they are slumping in a big way, and over.
Nationals at Giants (TBA)
This is Washington's first visit to San Francisco since being eliminated in Game 4 of last year's NLDS there. The Giants won't have center fielder and leadoff man Angel Pagan as he was placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesday with patella tendinitis in his right knee. Pagan is hitting .258 with 26 RBIs. Washington's Stephen Strasburg (6-5, 4.76) makes his second start since missing about a month. He was great in his return from the DL, holding the Rockies to one run and three hits over seven innings, striking out a season-high 12. The Giants' Buster Posey is 5-for-15 off him with five strikeouts. Gregor Blanco is 4-for-15 with a homer. San Francisco's Ryan Vogelsong (7-8, 4.26) got a spot start for Mike Leake last time out and allowed three runs in four innings at the Cubs. Ian Desmond is 4-for-12 with a homer and six RBIs off him. Jayson Werth is 3-for-8 with two doubles.
Key trends: The Nationals are 1-5 in their past series openers. The Giants are 9-1 in their past 10 home games vs. teams with a losing road record. Washington is 4-1 in the past five regular-season meetings. The under is 6-1 in the past seven.
Early lean: No line yet as Giants haven't officially announced Vogelsong, but it's going to be him. Take Nationals.
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