I haven't seen any "first manager to be fired props" at any sportsbooks recently, but it's looking like Atlanta's Fredi Gonzalez will be the first one gone, and it could happen any day. The Braves are truly awful, but didn't they expect this? They have traded off nearly everyone of note the past two years other than Freddie Freeman in an effort to save some money and be competitive starting next year in their new suburban stadium. What's the point of firing Gonzalez now? Why didn't you do it after last year? It's pretty much widely known that Gonzalez won't be leading the team into the new stadium. So the rumors are the club may use an interim guy -- former Brave Terry Pendleton? -- the rest of this year and then hire former Padres manager Bud Black after the season. Black spent four years in the Indians' front-office working for John Hart, who now is the Braves' president of baseball operations. Black was nearly hired this offseason by Washington before contract negotiations killed that handshake deal.
Pirates at Cardinals (-143, 8)
Pittsburgh was expected to get some good news on Friday in activating infielder Jung Ho Kang from the disabled list. He was terrific as a rookie last year, hitting .287 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs before his season ended in rather gruesome fashion on Sept. 17. Kang was the first position player to jump straight from the Korean Baseball Organization to MLB. He's expected to be the everyday third baseman this season, although he might not play every single game right off the bat. Pittsburgh goes with lefty Jeff Locke (1-2, 4.73) here. He threw a second straight quality start last time out, allowing three runs and four hits over seven innings vs. the Reds. Locke was 0-2 with a 4.32 ERA in three starts vs. the Cards in 2015. Matt Holliday is 5-for-14 off him with a homer and four RBIs. Kolten Wong 2-for-5 with a homer. Adam Wainwright (2-3, 6.68) goes for St. Louis. He hasn't been very good this year but did have a quality start in his most recent outing, allowing three runs over six innings vs. the Phillies. He pitched in Pittsburgh on Opening Day and allowed three runs over six innings as well in a loss. Andrew McCutchen is 13-for-45 off him with five doubles and a homer. Starling Marte is just 5-for-26.
Key trends: The Pirates are 1-6 in Locke's past seven road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Cards are 5-1 in their past six vs. a lefty. The Cards are 7-0 in Wainwright's past seven at home vs. Pittsburgh. The "over/under" is 9-2-3 in Wainwright's past 14 at home vs. the Bucs.
Early lean: Cardinals and over.
Rockies at Giants (-168, 7.5)
Will San Francisco allow at least 12 runs in an inning for the second time in little over a week? If this game was in Coors Field, I'd say maybe. But then again, Thursday's game between these two was at AT&T Park and the Rockies scored 13 runs in the fifth inning alone in a 17-7 win. The modern record, if you are wondering, for runs scored in an inning is 17 by the Red Sox against Detroit in 1953. San Francisco also allowed 13 runs at home against San Diego on April 27. So much for AT&T Park being pitcher-friendly. The Rockies face Johnny Cueto (4-1, 3.61) here. He had his worst outing of the year on Monday, allowing six runs and seven hits in Cincinnati -- his first start ever vs. his former team. The Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez is 5-for-16 with a homer and six RBIs off him. Colorado starts top pitching prospect Jon Gray (0-1, 7.98). He was roughed up his first two starts but got out of Coors Field on Monday and allowed two runs over six innings in San Diego and struck out a career-high 11. Gray has never faced the Giants.
Key trends: The Rockies are 2-10 in Gray's past 12 starts. The under is 4-1 in his past five on the road.
Early lean: Giants and under.
Twins at White Sox (-175, 7)
Minnesota manager Paul Molitor got the dreaded vote of confidence from ownership on Thursday with the Twins having the AL's worst record. I actually think there's little chance Molitor is fired since he did such a fine job last season. Plus he's a former Twin and a Hall of Famer. Minnesota starts Ervin Santana (0-1, 3.18) here. He hasn't pitched since April 19 due to a back problem but pitched a simulated game on Tuesday and apparently is good to go. He lost to the White Sox on April 14, allowing three runs and seven hits over seven innings. Avisail Garcia is 4-for-8 with a homer off him. Jimmy Rollins is 1-for-11 with four strikeouts. It's AL Cy Young leader Chris Sale (6-0, 1.66) for the Pale Hose. He has allowed just two runs in his past four starts. For some reason, the Twins owned him in 2015 as Sale was 1-4 with a 7.36 ERA in six starts vs. Minnesota. That was by far his worst against any team. Fluke. Brian Dozier is 11-for-38 off him with three homers, 11 RBIs and 11 strikeouts. Miguel Sano is 4-for-5.
Key trends: The Twins are 2-5 in Santana's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The Sox are 13-5 in Sale's past 18 with five days of rest. The under is 6-1 in his past seven at home.
Early lean: White Sox and under.
Mariners at Astros (-154, 8.5)
I still can't believe how bad Houston is, and certainly one huge problem has been the performance of reigning Cy Young winner and lefty Dallas Keuchel (2-4, 5.11). He lasted only 4.1 innings and allowed five runs in a home loss to the Twins on Monday. Keuchel had been 17-0 with a 1.47 ERA over his previous 22 home starts. He has walked at least five hitters twice this season, matching his number of five-walk games from his four previous seasons combined. Keuchel's walk rate has jumped from 5.6 percent in 2015 to 11.2 percent in 2016. In addition, right-handers are killing him. Keuchel lost in Seattle on April 26, allowing five runs and six hits over six innings. Nelson Cruz is 8-for-17 with two homers and five RBIs against him. Seth Smith is 4-for-13 with two dingers. Seattle's Nathan Karns (3-1, 3.81) was opposite Keuchel on April 26 and got the win, shutting out Houston on two hits over seven innings in easily Karns' best start of the year. Carlos Correa is 1-for-6 with a homer off him.
Key trends: The Astros are 19-9 in Keuchel's past 28 vs. the AL West. The over is 4-0 in his past four vs. Seattle.
Early lean: Mariners and over.
Diamondbacks at Braves (-115, 7.5)
Arizona seriously might have to think about moving Shelby Miller to the bullpen for a spell if he struggles again here. Miller (0-3, 8.49) is in the running for worst pitcher in baseball this season. GM Dave Stewart believes Miller is pressing by trying to live up to expectations off that big trade from Atlanta this past offseason. Miller has lasted more than five innings once all season and has walked a whopping 19 in 23.1 innings. Maybe facing his former team will settle Miller down. Some Braves have faced him from his St. Louis days. Freeman is 4-for-10 with a homer. A.J. Pierzynski is 1-for-3 with a homer. Atlanta counters with Julio Teheran (0-3, 3.72). He has been excellent over his past three outings, allowing three earned runs combined over 19.1 innings. He shut out the powerful Cubs on two hits over seven innings last Sunday but was unable to get his first win. Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt is 1-for-12 off him with five strikeouts. Jean Segura is 4-for-12 with a homer.
Key trends: The Braves are 5-1 in Teheran's past six at home vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 5-0-1 in Miller's past six starts. The under is 5-0 in Teheran's past five vs. Arizona.
Early lean: Diamondbacks -- giving Miller one more chance -- and under.
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