Could Cleveland actually become Titletown USA this year? I can't say I thought the Cavaliers would beat the record-setting Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals after trailing 3-1, but they completed the stunning comeback Sunday in a very memorable game. I'm happy for the fans of that city as it was the first championship in the four major pro sports for a Cleveland team since 1964 (and, yes, there was briefly an NHL team in the city). Clearly the Browns are going to be terrible again in 2016, but the Indians are pretty darn good. They lead the AL Central and have by far the best run differential in the division. The Tribe are +115 favorites to win the division at BetOnline and +1200 to win the franchise's first World Series since 1948. How cool would an Indians-Cubs Fall Classic be?
Royals at Mets (-186, 7)
The last time Kansas City played at Citi Field, the Royals beat the Mets 7-2 in 12 innings on Nov. 1, 2015, to win the franchise's first World Series since 1985. K.C. rallied from a 2-0 ninth-inning hole -- thanks in large part to a really gutsy sprint home by Eric Hosmer -- to force extras. These teams opened the season against one another at Kauffman Stadium and split. Both teams are missing several injured regulars from the Fall Classic and Opening Day. It's Ian Kennedy (5-5, 4.17) for the Royals -- he wasn't a member of the 2015 team. Kennedy started the season strong but has allowed 16 runs and 22 hits over 18 innings in his past three. He was a long-time National Leaguer, so plenty of Mets have faced him. James Loney is 7-for-17 with four doubles off Kennedy. Neil Walker is 9-for-21 with three homers and nine RBIs. The Mets go with ace Noah Syndergaard (7-2, 1.91). He dominated the Pirates last time out, allowing one earned and striking out 11 over 8.1 innings. Syndergaard won in Kansas City on April 5, throwing six shutout innings with nine strikeouts.
Key trends: The Royals are 1-8 in their past nine road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The Mets are 13-5 in Syndergaard's past 18 at home. The "over/under" has gone under in 11 of Syndergaard's past 13 in a series opener.
Early lean: Mets and under.
Cardinals at Cubs (-150, TBA)
The lone national TV game of the night, on MLB Network, and will have live betting at sportsbooks. The Cubs took two of three in the first two series this year vs. the Cards, both in St. Louis. The Cardinals go with Adam Wainwright (5-4, 4.78) in this one. He is back to ace status, allowing just four earned runs over his past three starts. Wainwright shut out Houston over seven last time out. He took a no-decision on May 23 vs. the Cubs, allowing three runs in six innings. Anthony Rizzo is a career .303 hitter off him with a homer. Jason Heyward is 3-for-16 off his former teammate. The Cubs go with Jason Hammel (7-2, 2.26). He took a no-decision Wednesday in Washington, allowing a run and five hits in seven innings. Hammel is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in two starts this year against St. Louis. Matt Adams is 5-for-11 off him with three homers. Jhonny Peralta is a career .391 hitter against Hammel with two homers and eight RBIs in 23 at-bats.
Key trends: The Cubs are 4-0 in Hammel's past four vs. St. Louis. The Cards are 5-0 in Wainwright's past five vs. the Cubs. The under is 5-1 in Wainwright's past six.
Early lean: Cubs.
White Sox at Red Sox (+110, 9)
Boston thought Clay Buchholz would be a solid No. 2 starter behind David Price this season. Yeah, not so much. Buchholz was banished to the bullpen three weeks ago, but the one start experiment for Roenis Elias was a huge bust on Friday, so Buchholz (3-6, 5.86) gets another shot on Tuesday. He gave up 59 hits, including 12 homers, in 56 2/3 innings with a 6.35 ERA over 10 starts before being removed from the rotation. Buchholz has been good in relief since then, however. He won at the White Sox on May 4, allowing two runs and three hits in seven innings. Brett Lawrie can't hit the guy, going 3-for-29. Melky Cabrera is 7-for-34 with a homer. Chicago goes with ace lefty Chris Sale (11-2, 2.94). He became the first in the majors to 11 wins by limiting the Tigers to three runs in seven innings, striking out seven in his last start. Sale was 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA in two starts last year vs. Boston. Xander Bogaerts is 5-for-10 off him with a homer. Mookie Betts is 3-for-7 with two doubles.
Key trends: The White Sox are 7-1 in Sale's past eight on five days of rest. Boston is 4-11 in Buchholz's past 15 vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 5-0 in Sale's past five on the road. The over is 4-1 in Buchholz's past five vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: White Sox and over.
Braves at Marlins (-300, 7)
This could be ugly for the terrible Braves as they face a very rested Jose Fernandez (9-3, 2.57), who basically never loses at home. Fernandez had an eight-game winning streak end on June 11 in Arizona, allowing four runs in six innings despite retiring the first 17 batters he faced. It was the most runs Fernandez had allowed since his last loss on April 23. The Marlins skipped Fernandez's last start just to give him a breather and keep his innings down. Last year, Fernandez was 1-0 with a 7.20 ERA in two starts vs. the Braves. Freddie Freeman is 5-for-15 off him with a homer. Atlanta goes with Bud Norris (2-7, 4.81). The Braves actually have won his past two starts. He is 1-0 with a 4.70 ERA in three appearances this year (one start) vs. Miami. Justin Bour is 2-for-2 off him with a homer. Giancarlo Stanton is 2-for-5 with a double.
Key trends: The Marlins are 11-1 in Fernandez's past 12 at home vs. teams with a losing record. Miami is 4-1 in his past five vs. Atlanta. The under is 7-1 in Fernandez's past eight starts overall.
Early lean: Marlins and under.
Nationals at Dodgers (-118, 7.5)
Both teams could be flat in this game off an epic playoff-style pitching matchup Monday night between Washington's Stephen Strasburg and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. The Nats go with Tanner Roark (6-4, 3.14) in Game 2 of the series. They have won his past four. Roark allowed four runs in San Diego on Thursday. Chase Utley has faced him more than any Dodger, going 1-for-10. Howie Kendrick is 1-for-4 against him. The Dodgers counter with lefty Scott Kazmir (5-3, 4.64). He has allowed three earned runs in each of his past three outings and not lasted more than five innings in any of them. Kazmir hasn't personally lost since May 9. Bryce Harper has never faced him. Jayson Werth is 1-for-3 with a solo homer. Daniel Murphy is 2-for-5 with three strikeouts.
Key trends: The Nationals are 4-0 in Roark's past four on the road. The Dodgers are 2-5 in Kazmir's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 7-3 in Roark's past 10 on the road.
Early lean: Nationals and under.
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