Apparently the dysfunctional Miami Marlins aren't going to wait until the offseason to decide on a manager to replace interim skipper and former general manager Dan Jennings. Reports are that the Marlins have spoken to both Manny Acta and Dusty Baker. Acta previously managed the Nationals and Indians, while Baker led the Giants, Cubs and Reds. Baker is a great regular-season manager but not in the playoffs. And I think Jennings may want to get his resume handy. Supposedly he was going to get kicked back to the front office after the season, but CBS Sports' Jon Heyman is reporting that Jennings didn't even know the team had interviewed Acta. I think that's a pretty good hint that ownership won't be bringing Jennings back. Nor should it.
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Phillies at Marlins (-160, 8.5)
Philadelphia was hoping to get back rookie third baseman Maikel Franco and first baseman Ryan Howard back off the disabled list before this season ended, but that's now unlikely -- meaning Howard may have played his final game in a Philly uniform. By the way, the Phillies did name give interim manager Pete Mackanin the full-time job for 2016 on Tuesday. Philadelphia starts Alec Asher (0-4, 9.78) in this one. He has made four big-league starts and has yet to last past five innings. He hasn't faced Miami. The Marlins go with Jarred Cosart (2-4, 4.43). This is his fourth start after missing two months with vertigo and the Marlins have won the previous three. He is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA in two starts this year vs. the Phillies.
Key trends: The Phillies are 3-14 in their past 17 Thursday games. The Marlins are 0-5 in Cosart's past five following a quality start in his last appearance. The "over/under" is 4-0 in Asher's four starts. The under is 5-1 in Cosart's past six at home.
Early lean: Marlins and under.
Mariners at Royals (-166, 8)
Kansas City's Greg Holland was arguably the best closer in baseball last year, an All-Star and won the Mariano Rivera Award as the AL's top closer. Well, he's no longer in that role. Manager Ned Yost made things official on Tuesday in demoting Holland in favor of set-up man Wade Davis. Holland has 32 saves but a high 3.83 ERA and his velocity is way down. Davis has been just about unhittable with a 0.88 ERA in 63 innings entering Wednesday. The Royals go with Johnny Cueto (9-12, 3.43) here. He had been in the worst slump of his career but turned it around last time out, allowing two runs in seven innings against the Tigers even though the Royals lost his sixth straight start. He hasn't faced Seattle this year. It's James Paxton (3-4, 3.70) for Seattle. The lefty has a 3.70 ERA in two starts since coming off a 15-week DL stint with a finger injury. He hasn't faced K.C. this year.
Key trends: The Mariners are 2-6 in Paxton's past eight on road. The Royals are 0-5 in their past five vs. a lefty. The under is 4-1 in Paxton's past five. The over is 7-0 in Cueto's past seven.
Early lean: Royals and under.
Pirates at Rockies (+125, 11)
Don't expect to see terrific Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado for this one. He left Tuesday's game after hitting his forehead on the infield dirt while making a diving attempt during the ninth innings against Pittsburgh. He did pass concussion tests, however. Arenado is a defensive magician and hitting .283 with 39 homers and 115 RBIs. Those might be NL MVP numbers in another season and if the Rockies were any good. So that's likely one fewer big bat to worry about for Pirates lefty Jeff Locke (8-11, 4.48). He was a bit shaky last time out, allowing five runs in 6.1 innings in a loss at the Dodgers. Locke hasn't faced the Rockies this year. Colorado's Chad Bettis (8-5, 4.46) is 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA this month. It's his first look at Pittsburgh.
Key trends: The Pirates are 4-9 in Locke's past 13 on the road. The Rockies are 7-3 in Bettis' past 10 at home. The over is 8-1-2 in Locke's past 11. The over is 8-2 in Bettis' past 10 vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Rockies and over.
Rangers at A's (+138, 8)
Interesting decision by Texas. Originally, ace lefty Cole Hamels was set to start the opener of a big series with Houston on Friday. But instead, the team has moved Hamels up to Thursday in order to get him a total of three regular-season starts remaining instead of two. So he would be lined up to pitch the season finale against the Angels, if that's important. If the Angels game becomes irrelevant, Hamels is lined up to start a playoff opener. Hamels (10-8, 3.67) hasn't faced Oakland since coming over in a trade with the Phillies. Not many Oakland hitters have ever faced him. Billy Butler is 1-for-3 with a homer and five RBIs. Texas did catch a break here in that the A's bumped back ace Sonny Gray and will go with Chris Bassitt (1-6, 2.82). He hasn't pitched since Aug. 26 due to shoulder soreness. Bassitt has pitched one inning vs. the Rangers in 2015 and allowed two runs.
Key trends: Texas is 7-0 in Hamels' past seven starts. The A's are 2-5 in Bassitt's past seven. The under is 5-1 in his past six at home.
Early lean: Rangers and under.
Rays at Red Sox (-118, 9)
The Red Sox are likely to be without third baseman Pablo Sandoval the rest of this series with a significant upper respiratory infection. Really not a big loss as Kung Fu Panda has been a giant dud since signing a five-year, $95 million free-agent contract. He is last in the majors in wins above replacement. Lefty Wade Miley (11-10, 4.34) gets the start here for Boston. He pitched at Tampa Bay on Sept. 11, allowing three runs and seven hits in seven innings. In four starts against the Rays this season, Miley is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA. Evan Longoria is 3-for-16 off him with a homer. It's Erasmo Ramirez (10-6, 3.70) for Tampa. The Rays have lost his past five even though his past two he has been excellent, allowing a total of two earned runs over 14 2 innings. Ramirez is 0-0 with a 1.29 ERA this year in seven innings vs. Boston. Brock Holt is 4-for-9 off him with a homer and three RBIs.
Key trends: The Rays are 2-7 in Ramirez's past nine vs. teams with a losing record. The Sox are 8-3 in Miley's past 11 at home. The over is 6-0 in Ramirez's past six on road. The over is 5-0 in Miley's past five.
Early lean: Red Sox and over.
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