The Marlins simply continue to embarrass themselves. Of course, general manager Dan Jennings named himself manager recently. When he first fired Mike Redmond many thought that third-base coach Brett Butler would become the manager at least for the rest of the season because he played 17 seasons in the majors and spent most of the past decade coaching and managing in the minors before joining the Marlins. But he was passed up, and now Jennings has demoted Butler from his gig to a baserunning/outfield coach. Why? Due to "confusion over signs" in recent games. What does that even mean?
Red Sox at Rangers (-119, 9.5)
I would have bet you anything that Boston would have had a better record than Texas at this point of the season, but the Rangers are at .500 entering Wednesday and the Red Sox in last in the AL East and four games under .500. Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is scheduled to make his big-league debut for Boston. Rodriguez, acquired from Baltimore last season for Andrew Miller, is 4-3 with a 2.98 ERA through eight starts in Triple-A and has struck out 44 with only seven walks in 48.1 innings. It's Nick Martinez for the Rangers. Martinez (4-0, 1.96) continues to surprise. He held the Yankees to two runs and five hits over seven innings last time out. He is 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA in four home starts. Martinez has never faced the Red Sox.
Key trends: The Rangers are 6-0 in Martinez's past six following a quality start in his last appearance. Texas is 4-0 in his past four against teams with a losing record. The "over/under" has gone under in nine of Boston's past 11 vs. the AL West. The over is 5-1 in Texas' past six series openers.
Early lean: Martinez has been good, and the Rangers don't know Rodriguez. Love under. Take Texas.
Tigers at Angels (-145, 8.5)
Series opener here. The Tigers had another injury in their rotation, this time to Kyle Lobstein, who was filling in for Justin Verlander (he threw a simulated game on Tuesday as he tries to make his season debut soon). So they will call up Buck Farmer to start this one. That just sounds like a baseball name, doesn't it? Farmer did make two fill-in starts last August and is 0-1 career with an 11.57 ERA in 9.1 big-league innings. He's 5-1 with a 2.98 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Toledo. He has never faced the Halos. It's lefty C.J. Wilson (2-3, 3.36) for Los Angeles. The team has lost his past two as he has allowed four runs in each of them. Ian Kinsler is a career .381 hitter off him in 21 at-bats. Yoenis Cespedes bats .333 with four walks.
Key trends: Detroit is 5-2 in its past seven against lefties. The Angels are 4-1 in their past five series openers. The Angels are 1-4 in Wilson's past five against teams with a winning record. The over is 5-0 in his past five vs. the AL Central.
Early lean: Angels and over.
Indians at Mariners (+111, 6.5)
Lot of people liked these two clubs winning their respective divisions back in the spring. I didn't agree on Cleveland but did on Seattle. Both are way out of first place. The Indians caught a break on Tuesday when first baseman Carlos Santana was hit by a pitch on the wrist against Texas but that X-rays were negative. So he should be fine. Indians ace Corey Kluber (2-5, 3.49) gets the call. The slacker only had seven strikeouts last time out against Cincinnati after totaling 30 his previous two. He did beat the Reds, allowing a run over eight innings with no walks. He has faced Seattle once, last year, and threw a complete-game shutout. Nelson Cruz is 4-for-13 with a solo homer off him. Seattle lefty James Paxton (3-2, 3.52) has won three straight starts and allowed only two combined runs in them. He has never faced Cleveland.
Key trends: The Indians are 0-4 in Kluber's past four series openers. The Mariners are 5-2 in their past seven openers. The under is 5-0 in Cleveland's past five against southpaws.
Early lean: Mariners and under.
Pirates at Padres (+104, 6.5)
What on earth has gotten into 38-year-old Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett? He is 4-1 and leads the majors with a 1.37 ERA a season after losing 18 games with the Phillies. Burnett hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his nine starts. He's the first Pirates pitcher to start a season that way. This absolutely will not last. Justin Upton hits .429 off him with two homers in 14 at-bats. Will Venable is 8-for-19 with two homers and five RBIs. Matt Kemp is 0-for-8 with six whiffs. San Diego's Ian Kennedy (2-4, 6.11) has been disappointing but was pretty solid last time out in allowing two runs and six hits over six innings at the Dodgers, but the Padres lost his third straight start. Neil Walker hits .444 off him with three homers in 18 at-bats. Josh Harrison is 4-for-6 with three extra-base hits.
Key trends: Pittsburgh is 1-4 in Burnett's past five on Thursday. The Padres are 0-6 in Kennedy's past six on that day. The over is 5-1 in Kennedy's past six overall.
Early lean: Pirates, a Walker prop and under.
Braves at Giants (-137, 7)
Another guy having a shockingly good season that will not last is Atlanta's Shelby Miller (5-1, 1.50), although I don't think he will fall off as much as Burnett will. Miller is third in the NL in ERA and WHIP (0.90). Over his past four starts, the Braves have won them all, and he has allowed only three total runs and held batters to a .144 average. The Giants' Nori Aoki is 7-for-18 off him with a solo homer. Hunter Pence also has a solo homer in five at-bats. The league seems to be figuring out Giants rookie Chris Heston (4-3, 4.33). He has allowed 11 runs and 15 hits over 7.2 innings in his past two starts, although San Francisco would win both. Heston has never faced the Braves.
Key trends: The Braves are 5-0 in Miller's past five on the road. The Giants are 4-1 in their past five series openers. The under is 6-1 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: This line makes no sense to me. Atlanta and the under.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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