The Cubs' Kris Bryant stole all the headlines in Chicago and around baseball over the weekend as he made his much-anticipated big-league debut against the Padres. There's a pretty good prospect on the South Side of the Windy City as well. That's pitcher Carlos Rodon, the No. 3 overall pick out of last year's draft from N.C. State. He has been recalled from Triple-A Charlotte and will start his career in the bullpen, but that won't last very long. He'll move into the rotation pretty quickly, probably to take the spot of No. 5 guy Hector Noesi.
Cardinals at Nationals (-117, 7)
Start of a three-game series and the only visit of the season for St. Louis, although certainly these two could meet again this October. I expect the Cards to repeat in the NL Central and the Nats to do the same in the NL East. Lance Lynn (1-1, 1.64) goes for St. Louis. He has allowed one earned run in each of his first two starts. Last year, he was 2-0 with a 0.66 ERA in two starts against Washington. Danny Espinosa is 3-for-8 with two homers off him. Bryce Harper has a solo homer in six at-bats. Lefty Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 5.11) goes for Washington. It's his first home start of the year and he was 5-3 with a 3.50 ERA in 13 starts there last year. Yadier Molina is 3-for-9 with two doubles off him.
Key trends: St. Louis is 11-3 in its past 14 against lefties. It is 10-3 in Lynn's past 13 vs. the NL East. The Nats are 1-4 in their past five series openers. The "over/under" has gone under in 10 of the past 13 meetings. St. Louis is 6-2 in its past eight at Washington.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
Twins at Royals (-153, 8)
Kansas City put All-Star closer Greg Holland on the disabled list over the weekend with a pectoral strain. He won the inaugural Mariano Rivera Award as the AL's top closer last year and had a postseason record-tying seven saves in the playoffs. Wade Davis takes over in the ninth. Lefty Jason Vargas (1-1, 6.00) starts for Kansas City. He had maybe his worst outing as a Royal last time out, allowing five runs and 10 hits in three innings off a loss at the Twins. Joe Mauer is a career .400 hitter off him in 30 at-bats with eight RBIs. Lefty Tommy Milone (2-0, 2.08) gets the call for the Twins. He beat the Royals opposite Vargas last time out, allowing three runs and seven hits over 5.1 innings. Salvador Perez is 6-for-14 with two doubles off him. Eric Hosmer has a homer in 14 at-bats against Milone.
Key trends: Minnesota is 1-7 in its past eight against left-handers. K.C. is 9-1 in its past 10 at home against a lefty. The under is 5-2 in Vargas' past seven at home.
Early lean: Royals and under.
Cubs at Pirates (-159, 7)
I say that Bryant gets his first homer in this series if he didn't on Monday night. Getting away from Chicago should help him stop pressing a bit. Bryant faces Pirates starter Francisco Liriano (0-1, 2.08) on Tuesday. Six times last season he pitched at least innings without allowing more than two runs yet didn't win. That has been the case in both his starts in 2015. Liriano has allowed a dinger in each start so maybe Bryant gets him. You could see Welington Castillo get the start behind the plate as he's 4-for-12 with a homer in his career off Liriano. Anthony Rizzo also has a homer off Liriano but only three total hits in 18 at-bats with seven strikeouts. Lefty Travis Wood (1-1, 2.31), maybe the best-hitting pitcher in MLB, starts for the Cubs. He was great last time out, shutting out the Reds on three hits over seven innings. Andrew McCutchen is 7-for-27 with two homers and seven RBIs off Wood.
Key trends: The Cubs are 2-5 in Wood's past seven on the road. The Pirates are 1-5 in Liriano's past six at home. The Cubs are 1-5 in Wood's past six vs. Pittsburgh.
Early lean: Pirates and over.
Indians at White Sox (+119, 8.5)
Carlos Carrasco takes the mound for Cleveland, and he avoided a potentially scary injury in his last start. He was hit in the face by a comebacker off the bat of the White Sox's Melky Cabrera last Tuesday. He was OK, though his next start was then pushed back a couple of days. Carrasco was charged with two runs against Chicago as he didn't get an out before the injury. He was stellar in his season debut, shutting out Houston on three hits over 6.1 innings and striking out 10. Cabrera does hit Carrasco well in his career, going 6-for-11 with a double, homer and five RBIs. It's Noesi for Chicago. He lasted just 4.2 innings in his lone start thus far, allowing two runs and walking six against the Twins. He was 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in three starts last year against Cleveland. Michael Bourn is 4-for-7 with a homer and five RBIs off him.
Key trends: The Indians are 4-1 in Carrasco's past five on the road. The Sox are 0-4 in Noesi's past four starts. The under is 12-1 in Carrasco's past 13 starts.
Early lean: Indians and under.
Orioles at Blue Jays (-135, 8.5)
Toronto could be without its double play combination for the series opener. Shortstop Jose Reyes hasn't played since Thursday due to a cracked rib and will be evaluated again Tuesday. He might play or might go on the disabled list. If Reyes does play through it, the switch-hitter will only bat from the right side. Second baseman Devon Travis left Sunday's game after being hit by a pitch in the ribs but X-rays showed no breaks and he's day-to-day. Travis has been great as a rookie, leading the Jays in average (.356), homers (three) and RBIs (12). Veteran left-hander Mark Buehrle starts for Toronto and the Jays have scored 12 runs in both of his starts thus far. His season debut was in Baltimore, where Buehrle allowed two runs over six innings. Adam Jones kills him, going 14-for-34 with two homers and seven knocked in. Bud Norris (0-1, 12.38) starts for the Birds. He was shelled by Toronto on April 10 opposite Buehrle, allowing eight runs in three innings. Dioner Navarro is 6-for-16 off him with two doubles and a homer.
Key trends: The Orioles are 6-1 in Norris' past seven series-opening starts. The Jays are 1-6 in their past seven at home vs. a right-handed starter. The Orioles are 6-1 in Norris' past seven vs. Toronto. The Jays are 2-5 in Buehrle's past seven vs. Baltimore.
Early lean: Blue Jays (I don't think they score 12 runs again) and over.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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