This is my first "Five To Follow" since the MLB trade deadline on Friday afternoon. Earlier last week I mentioned the deadline might be a dud because so many big names had already been moved. I was somewhat being sarcastic, but it also turned out that I was right. It was a total dud. The only big name who moved on Friday was Detroit sending outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets. I am stunned the Padres didn't do a single thing. Overall you would have to say the Blue Jays, Royals and Mets helped themselves the most for this season. The Tigers are easily much worse than they were a week ago. Remember, there are still going to be some moves. Players just have to clear waivers now -- or be dealt to the team who claims said player. It goes by reverse order of standings.
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Mets at Marlins (+110, 7.5)
Speaking of the Mets, I sure didn't see their home sweep of the Nationals over the weekend coming. The teams are now tied for the NL East lead. The Pirates are going to be one wild-card team. So that last spot will come down to the NL East runner-up, the Cubs and the Giants. Probably the hottest player in baseball right now is Mets first baseman Lucas Duda. He hit a two-run homer off Jordan Zimmermann in Sunday's win. It was hits ninth dinger in the past 28 at-bats. In his first two games hitting behind Cespedes, Duda is 5-for-7 with three homers. It's lefty Jonathan Niese (5-9, 3.63) here for New York. He faced the Marlins on May 30, allowing five runs over seven innings. Lefty Brad Hand (1-2, 5.12) goes for Miami, which traded 40 percent of its rotation last week. He has made only three starts in 27 appearances this season. Hand is 0-1 with a 4.19 ERA in 3.2 innings vs. the Mets. Duda is 5-for-14 with a homer and four RBIs off him.
Key trends: The Mets are 1-5 in Niese's past six vs. teams with a losing record. The Nats are 2-8 in their past 10 vs. a lefty. The "over/under" has gone under in four of Niese's past five on the road. The over is 6-0-1 in his past seven vs. Miami.
Early lean: Marlins and over.
Dodgers at Phillies (+173, 8)
Lefty Alex Wood makes his Los Angeles debut here; he was acquired in that crazy 13-player deal involving Atlanta (Wood's old team) and Miami. Then there was talk the Dodgers were close to flipping Wood to the Cubs. Wood (7-6, 3.54) was great in his final Braves start, shutting out the Orioles over 7.1 innings. He is 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA in three starts this season against the Phillies. Carlos Ruiz is 6-for-9 with two doubles and five RBIs off him. Phillies starter Jerome Williams (3-8, 6.36) was hit around for 10 hits and four runs over 4.2 innings last time out. I don't know why he hasn't been released yet. It's probably coming. Andre Ethier is 2-for-4 with an RBI off him.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 2-5 in their past seven following an off day. The Phillies are 6-1 in Williams' past seven with five days of rest. The over is 4-1-1 in his past five vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Dodgers and over.
Giants at Braves (+120, 7.5)
Atlanta is awaiting MRI results on the thumb of defensive wizard shortstop Andrelton Simmons on Monday. He was hurt diving for a ball on Saturday. X-rays revealed no fracture, but he's going to miss at least a few more days. Simmons is hitting .254 with 30 RBIs. Daniel Castro will start in Simmons' place. Atlanta starts All-Star Shelby Miller (5-8, 2.44) here. The Braves have lost his past eight starts, scoring more than three runs just once in that stretch. Miller pitched in San Francisco on May 28 and allowed a run and five hits over seven innings. Nori Aoki is 8-for-21 with a solo homer off him. San Francisco's Jake Peavy (2-4, 4.12) comes off his best start of the year, shutting out the Brewers on four hits over six innings. He hasn't faced Atlanta this season. Nick Markakis is 6-for-18 with a homer and two RBIs off him.
Key trends: The Giants are 6-0 in Peavy's past six vs. teams with a losing record. The Braves are 0-5 in Miller's past five at home. The over is 5-1 in Peavy's past six on the road. The under is 5-0 in Miller's past five.
Early lean: Giants and under.
Rays at White Sox (-131, 6.5)
Terrific pitching matchup between All-Stars here. For Tampa, it's Chris Archer (9-8, 2.54). He didn't allow an earned run last time out (two unearned), striking out 11 Tigers and giving up just three hits over seven innings. The Rays did lose that game, however, and have dropped four of his past five. Archer took a no-decision vs. the White Sox on June 13, allowing three runs over seven innings. Red-hot White Sox hitter Melky Cabrera is 5-for-20 off him with three RBIs. Lefty Chris Sale (9-6, 3.20) goes for the Pale Hose. He was uncharacteristically off last time out, allowing seven runs and 12 hits (career high) over five innings against the Red Sox. He is 2-3 with a 3.48 ERA lifetime vs. the Rays. Evan Longoria is just 1-for-11 with six strikeouts off him.
Key trends: The Rays are 7-2 in their past nine vs. a lefty. The Sox are 4-1 in Sale's past five vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 6-0 in Sale's past six at home.
Early lean: White Sox and under.
Mariners at Rockies (-115, 11)
It's top Colorado pitching prospect Jon Gray here. He was taken one spot after Kris Bryant (Gray was No. 3 overall) in the 2013 draft. Lot of people thought the Cubs would take Gray instead. Gray, 23, has been pitching this season for Triple-A Albuquerque. He is 6-6 with a 4.33 ERA in 21 games (20 starts). He started slowly, but since May 2 he is 6-3 with a 3.17 ERA, 93 strikeouts and 33 walks over 17 outings. The Rockies have nothing to play for at this point so might as well bring him up and let him learn in the majors in preparation for next season. The spot for Gray opened when righty Kyle Kendrick suffered inflammation in his right shoulder on Friday night against the Cardinals. It's lefty Vidal Nuno (0-1, 2.02) for Seattle; he's taking the spot of J.A. Happ, who was traded to Pittsburgh. Nuno has a 2.11 ERA in 18 relief appearances since being acquired from Arizona on June 3.
Key trends: The Rockies are 2-9 in their past 11 at home vs. lefties. The over is 4-1 in Colorado's past five interleague games vs. a lefty.
Early lean: Rockies and under.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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