Friday's game was almost an utter disaster for the Pittsburgh Pirates as both ace Gerrit Cole and starting catcher Francisco Cervelli left the game with injuries. First the good news: Cole is likely to miss at least his next start and might have to go on the 15-day DL, but an MRI revealed no structural damage. Cole left with tightness in his right triceps. The team wasn't as fortunate on Cervelli as he suffered a broken bone in his left hand and likely misses six weeks. He was hurt on a swing. Cervelli is one of the better all-around catchers in baseball and recently got a fat contract extension. He's hitting .257 with a solid .373 on-base percentage and is a very good defensive player and pitch-framer. Now Chris Stewart and Erik Kratz, acquired over the weekend from the Angels, will handle duties behind the plate. Neither of those guys can hit a lick. The struggling Pirates might be 20 games out of first in the NL Central by the time Cervelli gets back, so it's pretty much wild-card game again or bust for this team.
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Phillies at Blue Jays (-215, 9)
It's a getaway matinee at 12:37 p.m. ET and nationally televised by the MLB Network in this interleague series, with the teams then playing two games in Philly. Thus the Phillies will have the DH here, probably Ryan Howard. This would have been the spot of promising Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez, but he left Thursday's outing vs. the Cubs after just two pitches with biceps soreness and has been placed on the 15-day DL. Thankfully for him, an MRI came back clean. The Phillies called up right-hander Zach Eflin to replace Velasquez on the roster, and Eflin gets the call here in his big-league debut. The 22-year-old was acquired in the Jimmy Rollins deal with the Dodgers in December 2014. He was 5-2 with a 2.90 ERA in the minors this season. Toronto goes with struggling No. 1 starter Marcus Stroman (5-2, 4.94). He had a third straight shaky outing Thursday against Baltimore, allowing four runs and eight hits in 5.1 innings -- Stroman hasn't lasted six full innings once in that three-game stretch and has given up 17 earned runs and 28 hits in 16.1 innings. Stroman hasn't faced the Phillies.
Key trends: The Blue Jays are 7-2 in Stroman's past nine vs. teams with a losing record. The "over/under" is 8-2 in his past 10 at home.
Early lean: Blue Jays and over.
Cubs at Nationals (+105, 7.5)
Obviously the series of the week, this game will also be on the MLB Network and have live betting at sportsbooks. The Cubs go with John Lackey (7-2, 2.63), who has been worth every penny the team gave him in free agency this offseason. Lackey has allowed more than two earned runs just once in his past eight starts and hasn't allowed any in his past two (vs. Phillies and Braves) over 13.2 innings. Since the start of May, Lackey ranks second among qualified pitchers in WHIP at 0.79. Lackey beat the Nationals at Wrigley Field on May 6, allowing two runs in seven innings and striking out 11, tying his season high. Bryce Harper is 0-for-7 against him. Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez (3-5, 3.93) lost a fourth straight start Thursday at the White Sox, allowing three runs in seven innings. Gonzalez lost at the Cubs on May 8, giving up five runs in 5.2 innings. Dexter Fowler is a career .471 hitter off him with three extra-base hits and three RBIs in 17 at-bats.
Key trends: The Cubs are 10-2 in their past 12 vs. a lefty. The Nats are 0-5 in Gonzalez's past five vs. the NL Central. The over is 9-4 in his past 13 at home.
Early lean: Cubs and over.
Orioles at Red Sox (-173, 8.5)
It's Baltimore's second trip to Fenway this season; the Birds won two of three there from April 11-13. This game will feature each team's No. 1 starter. Baltimore's Chris Tillman (8-1, 3.01) comes off his best start of the year, throwing 7.1 shutout innings against the Royals with nine strikeouts and no walks. He had walked at least two in his previous nine outings. Tillman was 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA in two starts against the Red Sox last year. David Ortiz is only 6-for-33 career off him with seven strikeouts. Xander Bogaerts is 2-for-17. Boston lefty David Price (7-3, 4.63) was a hard-luck loser in San Francisco on Wednesday, going eight innings and allowing two runs and three hits. Price lost to Baltimore on April 11, allowing five runs in five innings. Mark Trumbo is a career .364 hitter off him with two homers and seven RBIs in 22 at-bats. Matt Wieters hits .319 off Price in 47 at-bats but has 20 strikeouts.
Key trends: The Orioles are 12-2 in Tillman's past 14 vs. Boston. The under is 3-0-1 in Price's past four vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 7-3 in Tillman's past 10.
Early lean: Red Sox and under.
Reds at Braves (-128, 8)
This is one of those games you are better off losing. Just one game could be the difference at the end of the season as to which team gets the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, and I'm assuming it will come down to these two clubs. Cincinnati goes with lefty Brandon Finnegan (2-4, 3.77). He had a second straight quality start Thursday against the Cardinals in allowing two runs in seven innings but took a no-decision. Finnegan has never faced Atlanta. The Braves counter with ace Julio Teheran (2-6, 2.85), who continues to build trade value. He won in San Diego last Wednesday, allowing two runs and striking out eight in eight innings. Last year, Teheran threw six shutout innings in his lone start vs. the Reds. Jay Bruce is 2-for-12 with a homer against him. Brandon Phillips is 1-for-10 with a double.
Key trends: The Reds are 1-9 in Finnegan's past 10 starts. The Braves are 0-7 in Teheran's past seven at home. The under is 2-0-2 in Finnegan's past four. The under is 6-2-2 in Teheran's past 10 at home.
Early lean: Braves and under.
Brewers at Giants (-245, 7)
These teams opened the season against one another in Milwaukee, with the Giants winning two of three. The Brewers go with Matt Garza here in his season debut; he has been on the 60-day disabled list with a right lat strain. He was 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in six starts in spring training, getting injured in his final one. Last year, Garza was an awful 6-14 with a 5.63 ERA. The Brewers are hoping he can build some trade value ahead of the Aug. 1 trade deadline. To make room for Garza on the active roster, the team sent Opening Day starter Wily Peralta to the minors. Peralta's 6.68 ERA through 13 starts ranks last among all qualified MLB starting pitchers. Giants ace lefty Madison Bumgarner (7-2, 1.88) took a no-decision on Wednesday against the Red Sox, allowing one run and four hits in six innings. Bumgarner has allowed more than two earned runs twice all season. One of those was opening day in Milwaukee when he gave up three in five innings and walked a season-high five but still won. Ryan Braun is a career .308 hitter off him with two homers and eight strikeouts in 26 at-bats.
Key trends: The Brewers are 0-4 in Garza's past four vs. teams with a winning record. The Giants are 5-0 in Bumgarner's past five at home. The under is 4-1 in Bumgarner's past five at home.
Early lean: Giants and under.
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