I think it's fair to say that Boston's big free-agent signing of former Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez this past offseason has been one of the worst moves this decade. The Sox gave him a four-year, $88 million deal with an addition vesting option for a fifth year at $22 million. They did this despite the fact Ramirez really could only play shortstop and third base. He had never played in the outfield. But Boston stuck him in left, and Ramirez has been one of the worst defensive players in the majors. In fact, by Fangraphs overall WAR, Ramirez is the worst player overall because he's also hitting only .252 with a .293 on-base percentage. The news came out on Tuesday that Ramirez will be moved to first base next season, and that makes sense. You might see him play there some to close this season as the Red Sox have nothing to play for, so they might as well get a head start. They have plenty of good outfielders (likely Rusney Castillo) to take over for Ramirez.
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Dodgers at Reds (+175, 7)
The Dodgers are hopeful they will get All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal back here, but with such an early start (12:35 p.m. ET) I think it's more likely the team waits until Friday. He hasn't played since Saturday due to a sore left shoulder. Grandal is hitting .275 with 15 homers and 44 RBIs. The Dodgers shouldn't need much offense to win this one as NL Cy Young favorite Zack Greinke (13-3, 1.67) is on the mound. The big-league leader in ERA held the Reds to one run and six hits over seven innings in a win on Aug. 16. Jay Bruce is just a .182 hitter off him in 33 at-bats. Joey Votto is 12-for-27 with three homers. Cincinnati's Anthony DeSclafani (7-9, 3.97) was opposite Greinke in that game and allowed two runs in six innings in taking the loss. He was hit hard last time out by Arizona, however.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 5-0 in Greinke's past five Thursday starts. The Reds are 1-4 in DeSclafani's past five at home. The "over/under" is 4-1 in Greinke's past five vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 4-1-1 in DeSclafani's past six overall.
Early lean: Dodgers on runline and under.
Blue Jays at Rangers (+127, 9.5)
Monitor the status of Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor here as he left Tuesday's game in the seventh inning with a finger injury. But X-rays are negative, so he's day-to-day; he lost the middle finger nail (ouch!). Odor is having a fine second season, batting .280 with 11 homers and 43 RBIs. Texas starts Yovani Gallardo (10-9, 3.25) here. It's a good thing he wasn't traded at the July 31 deadline as rumored as the Rangers are right in the wild-card mix. Gallardo won in Toronto on June 27, shutting out the Jays on three hits over 8.1 innings. Edwin Encarnacion is 5-for-14 with three homers and six RBIs off him. Troy Tulowitzki is a career .458 hitter off him in 24 at-bats. Toronto's Marco Estrada (11-7, 3.27) hasn't allowed more than three runs in his past five. He hasn't faced Texas this year. Mitch Moreland is 2-for-2 with a homer off him.
Key trends: The Jays are 5-1 in Estrada's past six vs. teams with a winning record. The Rangers are 8-1 in Gallardo's past nine vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 6-1 in Estrada's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 4-0 in Gallardo's past four.
Early lean: Rangers Jays and under.
Cubs at Giants (-178, 7)
San Francisco might be without All-Star shortstop Brandon Crawford for a bit. He left in the eighth inning of Tuesday's game against the Cubs when his left side tightened up. If that's an oblique injury, Crawford is going to be out a while. Last thing the injury-ravaged Giants need is another regular on the DL. They start ace lefty Madison Bumgarner (15-6, 3.02) in this one. The Cubs missed him when they recently swept four from San Francisco at Wrigley. In four August starts, Bumgarner is 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA. Starlin Castro hits him well, going 10-for-24. Chicago's Dan Haren (8-8, 3.76) has allowed at least three runs and yet to last more than 5.1 innings in four starts since being acquired from the Marlins. He is 1-0 with a 3.55 ERA in two starts this year against San Francisco.
Key trends: The Cubs are 6-2 in their past eight vs. a lefty. The Giants are 5-0 in Bumgarner's past five at home. The under is 5-0 in his past five at home vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Giants on runline and under.
Twins at Rays (-155, 7.5)
Both these overachieving teams refuse to die in the wild-card race. Tampa starts lefty Drew Smyly (1-2, 3.42) in the series finale. He has made two starts since missing more than three months on the DL, and Smyly was pretty good in the second one, shutting out Oakland on six hits over 5.2 innings last time out. Joe Mauer is 2-for-13 off him. Trevor Plouffe is 2-for-7 with two doubles. Minnesota lefty Tommy Milone (6-3, 3.69) pitched an inning of relief on Sunday and retired the Orioles in the 12th to earn his first career save. That has been his only relief appearance this season. Milone hasn't faced the Rays in 2015. Evan Longoria is 1-for-5 with a double off him.
Key trends: The Twins are 1-8 in their past nine vs. a lefty. The Rays are 6-1 in their past seven vs. a southpaw. The under is 11-1 in Smyly's past 12 overall.
Early lean: Rays and under.
Orioles at Royals (-140, 8)
Baltimore is slumping at the wrong time and dropping down in the wild-card standings. It took a six-game losing streak into Wednesday. For Thursday's series finale, the O's go with Chris Tillman (9-8, 4.51). He had won seven straight decisions until that ended last time out vs. the Twins when Tillman allowed three runs in 6.2 innings. It was his first loss since May 31. Kansas City's Ben Zobrist is just 6-for-37 career off him but with three homers. The Royals' Yordano Ventura (8-7, 4.64) hasn't lost since July 20. He has allowed only three earned combined over his past three starts. Matt Wieters is 2-for-4 off him. Adam Jones is 0-for-7.
Key trends: Baltimore is 11-4 in Tillman's past 15 vs. the AL Central. The Royals are 4-1 in Ventura's past five at home. The under is 8-1 in Tillman's past nine. The over has hit in eight of Ventura's past 12 following a quality start in his previous appearance.
Early lean: Desperate Orioles and over.
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