Let me preface this by saying I don't hate the Miami Marlins or anything, and I had hoped they made the playoffs because I'm a Cubs fan living in South Florida and thus could potentially see a game or two of a Marlins-Cubs playoff series in person. Now? I hope the Marlins miss the wild card by a game. That's because they are depriving me, MLB fans and bettors an epic pitching matchup on Sunday between Cy Young contenders in Marlins ace Jose Fernandez against White Sox stud Chris Sale. The Marlins have opted to skip Fernandez's start to save innings on his arm. This is Fernandez's first full season off Tommy John surgery, so the club wants to limit him to about 185 innings and also potentially have him available for a wild-card game. Fernandez had a start skipped last month and probably will have one next month. This sort of thing ticks me off. Either you are healthy or you aren't. Limit him to five innings in a few starts. Go on five days rest when there's an off day. But why would you sabotage your best chance to win a game when fighting for your playoff life? From a marketing standpoint, it will no doubt cost the Marlins as well as I'm sure Sunday's game would have drawn a great crowd. Not sure the allure of Tom Koehler vs. Sale will do the same.
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Rays at Yankees (-155, 8)
First pitch of 1:05 p.m. ET and on the MLB Network so should have live betting at sportsbooks. I have a feeling that no one is happier that Alex Rodriguez is gone than Yankees manager Joe Girardi as he clearly was tired of answering questions about A-Rod this week. New York goes with ace Masahiro Tanaka (8-4, 3.32). He beat the Indians last time out, allowing one run and six hits over six innings. Tanaka entered that game off back-to-back losses for the first time this season. Tanaka is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts this year vs. the Rays. Evan Longoria is 1-for-14 career off him. Logan Morrison is 2-for-15 with six strikeouts. Tampa's Matt Andriese (6-3, 2.90) has been back in the rotation from the bullpen in his past two outings and hasn't been able to last five innings in either as the team stretches him out. Andriese's last relief appearance was on July 30 vs. the Yankees and he allowed a run in two innings. Jacoby Ellsbury is 3-for-4 career off him. Chase Headley is 2-for-4 with a homer.
Key trends: The Rays are 0-6 in Andriese's past six vs. teams with a winning record. The Yankees are 10-1 in Tanaka's past 11 at home. The "over/under" has gone under in his past seven vs. the AL East.
Early lean: Yankees and under.
Cardinals at Cubs (-225, TBA)
A 2:20 p.m. matinee from Wrigley. The Cardinals just can't keep all their guys healthy at once as Matt Holliday was hit by a pitch in Thursday's series opener with the Cubs and is DL-bound with a fractured right thumb. Another big blow to St. Louis' wild-card hopes. With Michael Wacha landing on the disabled list earlier this week, a spot is open in the St. Louis rotation, and on Saturday it will be taken by Luke Weaver, the team's first-round pick in 2014 whose 2016 season was delayed until early June due to a broken wrist. Weaver, a 22-year-old from Florida State, was 6-3 with a 1.40 ERA in Double-A this year, where he had 88 strikeouts and only 10 walks. That earned him a promotion to Triple-A, and he threw six shutout innings there in his lone start before getting a call to the Show. Needless to say, he hasn't faced the Cubs. They go with Kyle Hendricks (11-7, 2.17), who needs to be in the Cy Young conversation at this point as Hendricks is second in the NL in ERA. He beat the A's last time out, allowing one run and three hits over 7.1 innings and has held opponents to one or fewer earned runs in six of his last seven starts. Hendricks has allowed more than three earned runs twice all year and one was April 20 in St. Louis, when he gave up four over 5.1 innings in a loss. Matt Carpenter is 6-for-13 career off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Cubs are 6-0 in Hendricks' past six vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-0 in his past five.
Early lean: Cubs.
Angels at Indians (-140, 9)
Nationally televised by Fox Sports 1. Los Angeles has lost interim closer Cam Bedrosian to the DL, where usual closer Huston Street already is. Your guess is as good as mine as to whom might get the save chances for a while, but the Angels so rarely lead in the ninth inning these days it might not matter. It probably will be a committee. The Halos go with Matt Shoemaker (6-12, 4.07) here. He lost in Seattle last Sunday, allowing three runs and seven hits over seven innings. It was his fourth quality start in the past five. Certainly one of Shoemaker's best starts of the year was June 11 against the Indians with eight shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out 11. Alas, he took a no-decision. Lonnie Chisenhall is 2-for-8 off him with a homer. Francisco Lindor is 0-for-3. Cleveland rookie Mike Clevinger (0-1, 6.97) was called up from Triple-A to make his most recent start, allowing two runs and seven hits over 4.1 innings against Minnesota. It was his fifth big-league appearance and he has never faced the Angels.
Key trends: The Angels are 1-7 in Shoemaker's past eight on the road. The under is 9-4 in his past 13 overall. The over is 4-0 in Clevinger's past four.
Early lean: Angels and over.
White Sox at Marlins (-178, 8.5)
Chicago loses the DH -- usually Justin Morneau -- for this interleague matchup. The bad James Shields has reappeared for the White Sox. He was historically bad in his first three starts with Chicago after the trade from San Diego, then really good over his next seven. But Shields (5-14, 5.43) was blasted for a second straight outing Sunday against Baltimore in lasting just 1.1 innings and giving up eight runs and six hits, four of them homers. Two of those were by Manny Machado. Shields hasn't faced the Marlins this year. Martin Prado is 5-for-10 career off him with two doubles and a homer. Dee Gordon is 3-for-4 with a triple. Marlins lefty Adam Conley (8-6, 3.70) also was shelled in his last start, allowing six runs and seven hits over five innings in Colorado but got the win. He has never faced Chicago. Todd Frazier has seen him, going 1-for-2 with a double.
Key trends: The Sox are 1-5 in their past six vs. teams with a winning record. The Marlins are 5-1 in Conley's past six at home. The over is 6-2 in Shields' past eight vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Marlins and over.
Orioles at Giants (-183, 7.5)
This is on the MLB Network. Baltimore again without the DH. I was skeptical of Baltimore all year with that starting pitching and I think this team is starting to fade a bit, although it has been the offense's fault and not the pitching. I don't expect much offense from the O's on Saturday against Giants ace lefty Madison Bumgarner (10-7, 2.20). The Giants have lost his past five, really crushing MadBum's Cy Young chances. He has three quality starts in those five, so it hasn't been his fault much. Last time out, he allowed a run and two hits over eight innings in Washington but was on the wrong end of a 1-0 score. This will be his first career look at Baltimore. Mark Trumbo has seen him plenty, going 4-for-17 with a homer. The Orioles go with Kevin Gausman (3-9, 4.02). He lost in Oakland on Sunday, allowing two runs over six innings. It was his fourth quality start in the past five. Gausman has never faced San Francisco but Denard Span is 3-for-6 off him with two doubles and Eduardo Nunez 2-for-5.
Key trends: The Orioles are 1-5 in Gausman's past six vs. teams with a winning record. The Giants are 10-2 in Bumgarner's past 12 vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 12-3 in Gausman's past 15. The under is 6-1 in Bumgarner's seven at home.
Early lean: Giants and under.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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