Maybe something will come out of this lost season for the San Diego Padres after all -- other than restocking the farm system by trading away half the team. The club dealt outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. to Toronto earlier this week to open up a full-time spot for 26-year-old rookie Alex Dickerson. And all he has done is homer in four straight games entering Friday's series opener at home against Cincinnati. No Padres rookie had ever homered in four consecutive games before. Now, I'm not sure Dickerson is for real because you don't usually see rookies blossom at 26 years old and he's only ranked as the team's No. 25 prospect. But he did rake in Triple-A this season, batting .382 with 16 doubles and 10 homers. The Padres, by the way, have homered in a club-record 25 straight games. That's the longest run since the 2002 Texas Rangers set a major league record by homering in 27 straight. Incidentally, Reds outfielder Jay Bruce enters Friday's game having homered in five straight games.
Mariners at Cubs (-167, TBA)
MLB Network televises this matinee (2:20 p.m. ET) from Wrigley Field, and it should thus have live betting at sportsbooks. Seattle loses the designated hitter, but I'd assume that slugger Nelson Cruz simply moves to right field -- if healthy as he has been dealing with a minor foot injury -- as the M's won't want to lose his bat. These teams made a trade last week, with Seattle sending lefty reliever Mike Montgomery to the Cubs for two minor-leaguers. Seattle starts Hisashi Iwakuma (11-6, 3.96) here, and he has won five straight starts. Last time out, he won in Toronto, allowing two runs and four hits over six innings. He faced the Cubs once back in 2013 and allowed four runs in eight innings. Dexter Fowler is 2-for-11 against him with five strikeouts. Jason Heyward is 2-for-3. It's Jon Lester (10-4, 3.09) for the Cubs. He has been inconsistent of late, and he wasn't good Sunday in Milwaukee, lasting just four innings and allowing four runs with five walks. Lester hasn't faced Seattle since his final Red Sox season in 2014. Cruz hits him well, going 11-for-28 with three homers. Kyle Seager is 5-for-16 against him with two homers.
Key trends: The Mariners are 5-0 in Iwakuma's past five series openers. The Cubs are 6-1 in Lester's past seven in Game 1 of a series. The "over/under" has gone under in six of Seattle's past seven vs. a lefty. The under is 3-1-1 in Lester's past five interleague starts.
Early lean: Cubs.
Yankees at Rays (-112, 8)
Both these pitchers could be playing their final game with their respective teams as both have been heavily rumored on the trade market. New York's Ivan Nova (7-5, 4.65) wouldn't bring too much back as he will be a free agent after this season. But he has had back-to-back quality starts. He allowed a run and six hits over seven innings last time out vs. the Giants in a no-decision. Nova has pitched 2.1 innings of scoreless relief vs. the Rays this year and got the win in that outing. Evan Longoria is 10-for-36 career off him with three homers and nine strikeouts. Steve Pearce, another trade candidate, is 0-for-4. It's Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 4.10) for Tampa, and I'd be surprised if he's not dealt. He's under team control for a few years and comes off eight shutout innings in Oakland, allowing five hits in a no-decision. Odorizzi leads the league with 12 no-decisions. He lost to the Yankees in May 29 despite allowing just one hit and two runs over seven innings. Brian McCann hammers him, going 12-for-23 with three homers and 10 RBIs.
Key trends: The Yankees are 1-4 in Nova's past five road starts vs. teams with a losing record. The Rays are 1-9 in Odorizzi's past 10 in Game 1 of a series. The under is 4-1-1 in Nova's past six road starts. The under is 5-2 in Odorizzi's past seven vs. the AL East.
Early lean: Yankees and under.
Royals at Rangers (-137, 9.5)
This also is televised by the MLB Network. Could be the final start in a Kansas City uniform for Edinson Volquez, who reportedly is being heavily scouted by Friday's opponent, the Rangers. Volquez (8-8, 4.56) faced Texas on Sunday and allowed one run and seven hits over six innings in a no-decision. It was Volquez's third straight quality start. Mitch Moreland is 3-for-5 off him with a homer. Rougned Odor is 2-for-2 off him. It's A.J. Griffin (3-1, 4.06) for Texas. He also took a no-decision on Sunday vs. Kansas City, allowing one run and four hits over five innings. Griffin hasn't lasted more than five innings in six starts since coming off the DL. Alex Gordon loves seeing Griffin as he's 6-for-7 off him with a double and homer.
Key trends: The Royals are 2-5 in Volquez's past seven on the road. The under is 4-1 in his past five. The over is 4-0 in Griffin's past four at home.
Early lean: Royals and over.
Diamondbacks at Dodgers (-205, 7.5)
Arizona expects to activate outfielder David Peralta off the disabled list for this game. He has not played for the Diamondbacks since June 14 due to a back issue. He's hitting .259 with four homers and 15 RBIs this season in 41 games. The Snakes start right-hander Zack Godley (3-1, 5.88) on the mound. He was roughed up in Cincinnati on Sunday, allowing five runs and 10 hits, both season highs, over 5.2 innings. Yet Godley got the win. He has thrown two-thirds of an inning vs. the Dodgers this year and didn't allow a run. The Dodgers' Kenta Maeda (9-7, 3.25) won in St. Louis on Saturday, giving up two runs and five hits over 5.2 innings. He is 1-1 with a 4.02 ERA in three starts against Arizona. Jean Segura is 4-for-8 off him with a double. Jake Lamb is 5-for-7 with two doubles and a homer. Peralta is 0-for-4.
Key trends: The Diamondbacks are 5-1 in Godley's past six. The Dodgers are 5-2 in Maeda's past seven vs. the NL West. The under is 5-0 in Maeda's past five at home.
Early lean: Dodgers and over.
Nationals at Giants (+142, 7)
I'd say the marquee pitching matchup of Friday, but the Giants' Jeff Samardzija (9-6, 4.22) hasn't been pitching like a marquee guy for a while. He lost at the Yankees on Sunday, allowing five runs and eight hits over 5.2 innings. It's the fifth time in the past six starts he has allowed at least four earned. Samardzija hasn't faced the Nationals this year. Ryan Zimmerman might get the game off as he's 1-for-19 career of Samardzija with seven strikeouts. Daniel Murphy is 5-for-9 off him with a homer. Washington's Max Scherzer (10-6, 2.92) is pitching like an ace, not allowing more than two earned in five straight starts. He took a no-decision vs. the Padres on Saturday in allowing two runs and four hits over seven innings with 10 strikeouts. It's his first look at the Giants this year. Brandon Crawford is 2-for-3 off him with a homer. Gregor Blanco is 4-for-7 with two doubles.
Key trends: The Nats are 4-1 in Scherzer's past five vs. teams with a winning record. The Giants are 5-2 in Samardzija's past seven at home. The under is 5-0 in Scherzer's past five.
Early lean: Nationals and under.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent Baseball Handicapping
- 2021 St. Louis Cardinals Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
- 2021 Chicago Cubs Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
- 2021 Pittsburgh Pirates Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
- 2021 Milwaukee Brewers Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
- 2021 Cincinnati Reds Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
- 2021 Colorado Rockies Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
- 2021 San Francisco Giants Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
- 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
- 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
- 2021 San Diego Padres Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series