The frenzy before the Aug. 1 trading deadline has officially begun. The one weakness on the World Series betting favored Chicago Cubs is their bullpen, specifically a situational lefty. The Cubs have been linked to both excellent Yankees lefties, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. I would think the chances of getting one of those two has lessened now that the Cubs landed Mariners lefty Mike Montgomery on Wednesday for two minor-leaguers. Seems like a great trade for the Cubs as Montgomery has excelled against lefty hitters this season but also can start -- something that might come into play next year for Chicago. Meanwhile, Cubs boss Theo Epstein told anyone who would listen that he wasn't trading Kyle Schwarber in any deal, and that's who the Yankees kept demanding. Epstein didn't give up any top prospects in the Montgomery deal, although he said he's not done yet.
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Giants at Yankees (+119, 7.5)
This is nationally televised by the MLB Network and should have live betting at sportsbooks. Of course, the Giants also used to be in New York City before moving to the West Coast for the 1958 season. These teams have played just nine total interleague games and not since 2013. The last time Giants lefty ace Madison Bumgarner pitched in an American League park was June 30 in Oakland, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy shocked everyone by passing on having the DH and letting Bumgarner hit. But Bochy says he'll be using the DH in this game with Bumgarner (10-5, 2.12) pitching. He comes off a rare non-quality start, allowing four runs and seven hits over six innings in a loss at San Diego. This will be Bumgarner's first career start at Yankee Stadium. Starlin Castro knows him well from his NL days, going 11-for-26. Chase Headley is 10-for-33 with three homers and 12 RBIs off Bumgarner. New York was thinking about giving ace Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 3.15) an extra day off instead of going here, but he now is expected to start. He hasn't lost since June 11 and beat Boston last time out, allowing one run and three hits over six innings. Tanaka hasn't faced the Giants.
Key trends: The Giants are 5-2 in Bumgarner's past seven on the road. The Yankees are 8-1 in Tanaka's past nine at home. The "over/under" has gone under in seven of Bumgarner's past nine overall. The under is 5-1 in Tanaka's past six interleague starts.
Early lean: Giants and under.
Indians at Orioles (-107, 9)
Baltimore's Dylan Bundy (2-2, 3.70) once was arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball, but injuries always cropped up. He has been solid in relief this season for the Orioles and made his first major-league start on Sunday against Tampa Bay, allowing four runs and five hits (three homers) over 3.1 innings in a loss. I'm sure he will be quite jacked up for his first home start here. Bundy has thrown 1.1 scoreless innings of relief this year vs. the Tribe. Speaking of former top pitching prospects, the Indians go with Trevor Bauer (7-3, 3.36), who won the NCAA Golden Spikes Award while with UCLA as the nation's top player in 2011. Bauer has allowed nine runs over 11.2 innings in his past two starts. He took a no-decision vs. Baltimore on May 27, allowing three runs and nine hits in six innings. Manny Machado hammers him, going 5-for-8 with two homers.
Key trends: The Indians are 1-4 in Bauer's past six vs. the AL East. The Orioles are 1-4 in their past five in Game 1 of a series. The under is 4-1-2 in Bauer's past seven.
Early lean: Orioles and under.
Twins at Red Sox (-184, 10.5)
Boston is going to be down to its third closer with Koji Uehara being placed on the 15-day DL on Wednesday with a right pectoral strain. He had been largely handling the job since Craig Kimbrel went on the DL a couple of weeks ago and will remain there at least a few more weeks. So presumably the ninth-inning job for now belongs to Brad Ziegler, who was recently acquired from Arizona. The Red Sox go with young lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (2-3, 7.18) on the mound. He was sent down in late June after struggling in the majors but was brought back up to start Saturday at the Yankees and pitched great, allowing one run and four hits over seven innings. Rodriguez took a no-decision at Minnesota on June 11, allowing four runs in 4.2 innings. Brian Dozier is 2-for-4 off him with a homer. The Twins' Kyle Gibson (2-6, 5.12) has allowed four runs in three straight starts. He also pitched in that June 11 game and took the loss, allowing five runs in 5.2 innings. Jackie Bradley Jr. is 1-for-4 off him with a three-run homer.
Key trends: The Twins are 1-6 in Gibson's past seven vs. the AL East. The Sox are 5-1 in Rodriguez's past six at home vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Red Sox and over.
Mariners at Blue Jays (-155, 9)
Toronto expects to have All-Star outfielder Michael Saunders back from a personal matter on Friday. He missed Wednesday's game and the Jays were off Thursday. Saunders is a contender for AL Comeback Player of the Year, hitting .286 with 16 homers and 43 RBIs after barely playing in 2015 due to injury. The Jays face Mariners lefty James Paxton (2-4, 4.56). He originally took the injured Felix Hernandez's spot but will stay in the rotation for now with King Felix back. But not for long if Paxton allows six runs over five innings as he did last time out vs. Houston. He's 1-1 with a 10.38 ERA in two career starts vs. Toronto. Josh Donaldson is 2-for-9 with a double off him. Toronto's Marco Estrada (5-3, 2.93) was named an All-Star but was on the DL. He'll be activated to make his first start since July 2. Seattle's Nelson Cruz is 4-for-5 career off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Mariners are 2-8 in Paxton's past 10. The Jays are 5-1 in Estrada's past six at home vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-1 in Estrada's past six in Game 1 of a series.
Early lean: Blue Jays and under.
Cubs at Brewers (+158, 8.5)
Potential letdown series for the Cubs after playing big series against the Texas Rangers and New York Mets out of the break. Although this will basically be a home series with probably 80 percent Cubs fans in attendance. Chicago finally thinks it will get leadoff hitter and center fielder Dexter Fowler back from the DL. The Cubs were also hoping that last Friday but decided to give him a little bit more minor-league rehab. Fowler suffered a right hamstring injury on June 18. The Cubs start Jason Hammel (8-5, 3.34). Chicago had lost six straight of his starts before Hammel allowed one run and three hits over six innings vs. Texas last weekend. Hammel lost in Milwaukee on May 19, allowing four runs in six innings. Ryan Braun is 8-for-23 career off him with two homers. Milwaukee goes with Jimmy Nelson (6-7, 3.39). He shut out the Reds over seven innings last time out. Nelson is 0-1 with a 0.71 ERA in two starts vs. the Cubs this year. Javier Baez is 3-for-6 off him with two RBIs. Fowler is 2-for-12 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Cubs are 0-4 in Hammel's past four on the road. The Brewers are 1-9 in Nelson's past 10 vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 4-1 in Hammel's past five on the road. The under is 4-1 in Nelson's past five.
Early lean: Brewers and under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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