The L.A. Dodgers were going to trade for a starting pitcher by the July 31 deadline regardless, but that may have taken on even more importance -- maybe two pitchers now -- after injury-prone lefty Brett Anderson had to leave Wednesday's game in the third inning against Atlanta with discomfort in his left Achilles' tendon. Knowing Anderson's luck, it's likely serious. But Anderson said a doctor examined him after the game and found the tendon to be "intact" with no tear. So maybe he just misses a start or two, but he will undergo an MRI on Wednesday. Anderson is having a nice bounce-back season, but it was unrealistic to expect him not to spend some time on the DL this season.
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Mariners at Tigers (-148, 8)
The Dodgers certainly would have interest in Tigers ace lefty David Price, and this could be his final start in a Tigers uniform. It's probably his last at Comerica Park in that uni. As ESPN's Buster Olney writes, if Price goes on the market, as has been rumored, that trumps every other pitcher. The Tigers had won four straight starts by Price (9-3, 2.32) but were beaten last time out by Baltimore despite Price allowing just one run and striking out 12 in seven innings. He hasn't faced the Mariners this season. Nelson Cruz is a .368 hitter with two homers and four RBIs off him in 19 at-bats. Former Tiger Austin Jackson is just 4-for-21 with 11 strikeouts against him. It's Hisashi Iwakuma (2-1, 4.89) for Seattle. He faced the Tigers on July 6 and wasn't very good in a no-decision but has allowed only two runs over 13.2 innings in his past two starts. Yoenis Cespedes is 11-for-27 with five doubles and four homers off him.
Key trends: The Mariners are 1-8 in their past nine on Thursday. They are 7-2 in Iwakuma's past nine vs. teams with a losing record. The Tigers are 9-2 in Price's past 11 vs. teams with a losing record. The "over/under" has gone over in 10 of Iwakuma's past 14 overall.
Early lean: Tigers and under.
Twins at Angels (-164, 7.5)
Monitor the status of AL MVP favorite Mike Trout over the next couple of days after he sat out Tuesday against the Twins with minor swelling in his left heel. This is getaway day game after a night game, so you might see the team play it safe and hold him out here. Ervin Santana (1-0, 3.66) gets the call for the Twins. He had his best outing of the season -- he has made only three -- last time out, shutting out Oakland on five hits over 7.2 innings. Santana was an Angel from 2005-12. Matt Joyce is 6-for-18 with two homers off him. Trout is 2-for-4 with a solo dinger. L.A.'s Garrett Richards (10-6, 3.24) had his best outing of the year last time out, throwing a complete-game two-hitter vs. the Red Sox. Minnesota's Joe Mauer is 2-for-3 off him.
Key trends: The Angels are 5-1 in Richards' past six vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 4-0 in his past four on Thursday.
Early lean: Angels and under.
Dodgers at Mets (+208, 6.5)
I think it's safe to say that Clayton Kershaw (7-6, 2.68) is back to a Cy Young level now, although he's surely not going to win the award this season again. Kershaw hasn't allowed a run in 20 consecutive innings dating back to the fourth inning of his July 3 start against the Mets. He has a 0.58 ERA over his last four starts. Over his past two, he has struck out 27. If the Dodgers get a Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto to go with Kershaw and Zack Greinke, I don't know how you beat them in a playoff series. It's 42-year-old Bartolo Colon (9-8, 4.86) for the Mets, and he's starting to show his age. The team has lost his past five outings, and his ERA over that span is 6.18. He hasn't faced the Dodgers in 2014. Adrian Gonzalez is 9-for-21 with two homers off him.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 7-3 in Kershaw's past 10 road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Mets are 2-6 in Colon's past eight at home vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-0 in Kershaw's past five. The Dodgers are 7-1 in Kershaw's past eight vs. the Mets.
Early lean: Dodgers on runline at -130 and under.
White Sox at Indians (-133, 7.5)
Here's another pitcher that will be heavily monitored by scouts Thursday for a potential trade: the White Sox's Jeff Samardzija (6-5, 4.08). He has gone at least seven innings in eight straight outings to raise his value a bit. Samardzija faced the Tribe on April 22 and shut them out over six innings. Michael Bourn is 6-for-13 with two doubles off him. Cleveland's Trevor Bauer (8-6, 4.03) was roughed up in his first post-break start against the Reds, allowing five runs and seven hits in four innings. He is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in three starts against the White Sox this season. Jose Abreu is 6-for-13 with a double off him. Melky Cabrera is 0-for-10.
Key trends: The Sox are 2-6 in Samardzija's past eight series-opening starts. The Indians have won seven straight on Thursday. They are 2-6 in Bauer's past eight Game 1 starts. The under has hit in eight of Bauer's past 11 home starts vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: White Sox and under.
Royals at Cardinals (-142, 7)
It's a one-game series in St. Louis and a potential World Series preview between Central Division leaders. This is a make-up game of one rained out on June 14 in Busch Stadium as the Cardinals were trying for the three-game sweep. The Royals swept three against the Redbirds in K.C. earlier in the year. John Lackey (8-5, 2.90) starts for the Cardinals. He hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his past seven outings. Lackey pitched in Kansas City on May 23 and allowed three runs over five innings in a loss. Eric Hosmer is 2-for-9 with a homer and three RBIs off him. Mike Moustakas is 3-for-7 with two doubles. It's the tallest pitcher in baseball, Chris Young, for the Royals. The 6-foot-10 Young (8-5, 3.03) beat the Cardinals on May 22, shutting them out over six innings. In six career starts against the Cardinals, he is 1-3 with a 2.93 ERA.
Key trends: The Royals are 9-1 in their past 10 interleague games vs. right-handed starters. They are 4-0 in Young's past four on the road. The Cards are 8-0 in Lackey's past eight at home vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-1 in Young's past six road starts. The under is 8-2 in Lackey's past 10 vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Cardinals and, yes, under. Lot of good pitchers going Thursday.
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