Atlanta's Fredi Gonzalez was the first manager fired in Major League Baseball this season. Could Minnesota's Paul Molitor be next? That question has to be asked as the Twins are a disastrous 33-58, the second-worst record in the majors. They expected to contend this season in the AL Central after staying in the wild-card race until the end last year in Molitor's first season. One domino already has fallen in the Twin Cities as long-time General Manager Terry Ryan was axed on Monday. The Twins haven't reached the postseason since 2010, the year before Ryan returned as the team's GM. The former scout rebuilt the Twins once before, after being named general the first time manager in November 1994. Assistant GM Rob Antony will replace Ryan on an interim basis. Any new GM might want to find his own manager. Thus I think Molitor probably is safe at least the rest of this year. Plus the fact he has the cache of being a Hall of Famer and played for the Twins carries weight.
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Mets at Cubs (-155, TBA)
An ESPN national TV game and will feature live betting. The Mets entered Monday's series opener having won eight straight vs. the Cubs, four in last year's NLCS sweep and then four a couple of weeks ago at Citi Field. Great matchup of All-Stars on the mound in New York's Noah Syndergaard and Chicago's Jake Arrieta, although both appeared to hit a wall to close the first half and neither pitched in last Tuesday's game. Syndergaard (9-4, 2.56) has admitted he has a bone spur in his pitching elbow but apparently can't make it worse by pitching through it. His velocity was down, however, in his last start on July 8 and he made it only 4.2 innings against the Nationals, allowing three runs. Maybe all that time off will help him. Syndergaard dominated the Cubs on June 3, allowing one run over seven innings with eight strikeouts. Kris Bryant is 2-for-5 career off him with a triple. Jason Heyward is 3-for-6 with a double and triple. Arrieta (12-4, 2.68) allowed six runs and nine hits over six innings in his last start on July 8. He was hit around for four runs and eight hits by the Mets on July 2. Asdrubal Cabrera is 5-for-11 career off him with two homers and four RBIs. Curtis Granderson is 10-for-30 against him with three homers and nine RBIs.
Key trends: The Mets are 7-0 in Syndergaard's past seven vs. the NL Central. The Cubs are 11-3 in Arrieta's past 14 at home. The "over/under" has gone under in five of Syndergaard's past six on Tuesday. The under is 3-1-2 in Arrieta's past six vs. the Mets.
Early lean: Mets
Orioles at Yankees (-125, 9.5)
Any day now could be the last for Carlos Beltran in a Yankees uniform as I believe he'll be traded. Reports out of New York are that the Royals have inquired about bringing Beltran back. He played there from 1998-2004 and then just got too expensive for the small-market club to keep. Luke Hochevar was one of the players the Royals offered New York in return. The Yanks start another trade candidate here in Nathan Eovaldi (7-6, 5.11). The Pirates are really looking hard at him, although his value isn't great at the moment. He had been demoted to the bullpen for a while but is back in the rotation for now. Eovaldi was roughed up in Baltimore on June 3, allowing five runs over 5.1 innings. Chris Davis is 2-for-11 career off him with a homer and six strikeouts. Manny Machado is 1-for-8 with a homer off him. The Birds are giving Vance Worley (2-0, 2.87) a spot start here. He has allowed a run and three hits in two-thirds of an inning vs. the Yanks in 2016. Beltran is 3-for-12 off him with two doubles.
Key trends: The Yankees are 0-4 in Eovaldi's past four. The over is 5-1 in his past six.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Dodgers at Nationals (-120, 8.5)
Los Angeles expects to activate outfielder Joc Pederson from the disabled list on Tuesday. He has been out since suffering a bruised AC joint when he crashed into a wall on June 28. Pederson is hitting .236 with 13 homers and 33 RBIs this season. He will face off against Washington's Reynaldo Lopez. He's the team's No. 5 overall prospect making his big-league debut. Guy can hit triple digits on his fastball and had a 3.19 ERA combined in Double-A and Triple-A this season. Manager Dusty Baker said Sammy Solis will be placed on the 15-day disabled list because of right knee soreness to make room for Lopez on the 25-man roster. The Dodgers go with lefty Scott Kazmir (7-3, 4.52). He last pitched on July 8 against the Padres and lasted only three innings, giving up three runs and six hits. Kazmir took a no-decision vs. Washington on June 21, giving up two runs and eight hits over six innings. Bryce Harper is 1-for-3 off him with a homer. Jayson Werth is 5-for-7 with a dinger.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 1-4 in Kazmir's past five series openers. The Nats are 4-0 in their past four vs. a lefty. The under is 6-0 in Washington's past six games.
Early lean: Nationals and under.
Indians at Royals (TBA)
Cleveland has lost catcher Yan Gomes perhaps for the season after he separated his shoulder in Sunday's win over the Twins. Gomes suffered the injury when he fell and landed awkwardly on his shoulder while running to first base. He used to be a pretty good hitter but was batting just .165 this season with eight homers and 32 RBIs. It remains to be seen whether this puts the Tribe in the trade market for a catcher. Cleveland starts All-Star Danny Salazar (10-3, 2.75), although he wasn't able to pitch in the game due to arm fatigue. He was roughed up a bit in his last outing on July 9, giving up six runs and eight hits over 5.2 innings vs. the Yankees. Salazar is 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA in two starts this year against the Royals. Alex Gordon is 5-for-25 against Salazar career with 15 strikeouts. Eric Hosmer is 8-for-24 with two homers. The Royals go with Chris Young (2-8, 6.79). He had been demoted to the bullpen. Young is 0-1 with a 7.00 ERA in two starts this year vs. Cleveland. Francisco Lindor is 7-for-18 off him with a homer. Carlos Santana is 4-for-16 with two homers against him.
Key trends: The Indians are 7-1 in Salazar's past eight. The Royals are 1-4 in their past five on Tuesday. The under is 9-2-2 in Salazar's past 13 on the road.
Early lean: This is TBA because Young hasn't been made official yet but all indications are it will be him. Go Tribe.
Rays at Rockies (-155, 12)
Tampa Bay will lose the DH for this interleague matchup. The Rays are listening to almost every pitcher on their roster in trade talks other than top prospect and lefty Blake Snell (1-4, 3.69), who goes here. It's Snell's seventh big-league start and he'll get his first chance to hit. He last pitched on July 7 against the Angels and allowed two runs and four hits over six innings in a loss but did strike out a career-high seven. No Rockies have seen him. Colorado goes with ace Tyler Chatwood (8-5, 3.29). He has struggled in his two starts since coming off the 15-day disabled list with a mid-back strain. Chatwood hasn't lasted more than five innings in either of them. He's night and day different at home and away as Chatwood is 3-5 with a 5.32 ERA at Coors Field and 5-0 with a 1.30 ERA on the road. Only one Rays player has seen him: Logan Forsythe is 0-for-3 against him with three walks.
Key trends: The Rays are 1-10 in their past 11 in Game 2 of a series. The Rockies are 0-6 in their past six interleague home games vs. a lefty. The under is 4-1 in Chatwood's past five at home.
Early lean: Rays and under.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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