Injuries have really hit the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals hard this season, and it appears that outfielder Lorenzo Cain, an AL MVP finalist last year, might now be done for the year with a wrist injury. That might officially put a nail in the Royals' coffin in terms of getting a wild-card spot as they are four games out of the second spot as of Monday and have six total teams ahead of them in the standings. Cain hadn't played since Aug. 30 due to a wrist injury but was back in there Friday. Alas, he aggravated the problem and will be shut down for at least a week and then be re-evaluated. Then the decision whether to end his season will be made. Cain is hitting .287 with nine homers, 56 RBIs and 14 steals in 103 games. Paulo Orlando will start most nights in Cain's right-field spot.
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Dodgers at Yankees (+140, 8.5)
Of course, this game is nationally televised and is shown on the MLB Network. Los Angeles will add the designated hitter. The Dodgers will go with rookie lefty Julio Urias (5-2, 3.69), arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball. The team keeps saying it plans to shut him down to save innings, but Urias has been too good of late. He was 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA in August. Urias last pitched on Sept. 2 and gave up two runs over 5.1 innings vs. the Padres. He's hasn't seen the Yankees. New York lefty CC Sabathia (8-12, 4.27) comes off a no-decision vs. the Rays on Thursday where he gave up three runs (all solo homers) and seven hits over four innings. That ended a string of three straight quality starts. Plenty of Dodgers have see him. Adrian Gonzalez is 7-for-28 against him with two homers, nine RBIs and 11 strikeouts. Howie Kendrick hits .455 off him in 22 at-bats. Josh Reddick likely takes a seat as he's 2-for-19 off Sabathia.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 8-1 in Urias' past nine. The Yankees are 2-6 in Sabathia's past eight at home. The "over/under" is 7-0 in Sabathia's past seven interleague starts.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Mets at Nationals (+123, 7.5)
With the injury to Stephen Strasburg (although it was relatively good news), it looks like A.J. Cole will stay in the rotation the rest of the regular season for Washington. Cole (1-2, 4.56) made his fourth start of the season on Thursday vs. the Phillies and took the loss, allowing four runs over five innings. He did strike out eight. Cole's best start of the four was on Sept. 2 at the Mets, getting his first big-league win in giving up a run and three hits over six innings. New York's Noah Syndergaard (13-8, 2.48) won in Cincinnati last Wednesday in throwing five shutout innings. He was a bit wild with four walks so was pulled at 95 pitches. Syndergaard has faced the Nats more than anyone this season and is 1-3 with a 4.15 ERA in four starts. Anthony Rendon is 5-for-16 off him with a homer. Bryce Harper is 5-for-16 as well with five strikeouts.
Key trends: The Mets are 6-2 in Syndergaard's past eight road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 4-1 in his past five vs. Washington.
Early lean: Mets and under.
Orioles at Red Sox (-150, 9.5)
Pretty much every AL East game the rest of the way means something other than for Tampa Bay. Baltimore goes with young right-hander Dylan Bundy (8-5, 3.82). He might be hitting a bit of an innings wall as Bundy lasted just 3.2 innings in his most recent start at Tampa Bay, allowing five runs and seven hits. It was the third time in his past five that Bundy lasted less than five innings and allowed five runs. He has made four appearances (one start) over 9.2 innings vs. Boston this year and is 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA. Dustin Pedroia is 3-for-6 off him. Mookie Betts is 3-for-5 with a homer. The Red Sox have lost the past three by lefty Drew Pomeranz (10-11, 3.01). He pitched at his former team, San Diego, on Sept. 5 and allowed two runs over 5.2 innings. The Sox wanted to get him a bit of extra rest and this will be his first look at Baltimore this year. Chris Davis is 0-for-3 off him with two strikeouts career. Adam Jones is 1-for-3.
Key trends: The Orioles are 1-4 in Bundy's past five vs. the AL East. The Sox are 4-1 in Pomeranz's past five vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-0 in his past five.
Early lean: Red Sox and over.
A's at Royals (-180, 8)
It has been another lost season for Oakland, but the A's might have found a key piece for the rotation next season in Jharel Cotton, who came over from the Dodgers in the Josh Reddick/Rich Hill trade. The 24-year-old, from the baseball hotbed (not really) of the U.S. Virgin Islands, made his big-league debut last Wednesday and beat the Angels, allowing one run and two hits over 6.1 innings. He's just the fourth pitcher in big-league history born in the Virgin Islands. Cotton was the fifth A's pitcher to make his big-league debut this year. That ties a team record set in 1978. Kansas City goes with lefty Danny Duffy (11-2, 3.13). The Royals lost his third straight last Wednesday as he allowed two earned over six innings with 10 strikeouts in Minnesota. He has pitched one scoreless inning of relief this year vs. the A's. Danny Valencia is 1-for-7 off him with two strikeouts. He could be released any day, though, after Oakland cut DH Billy Butler over the weekend. Those two had a clubhouse fight a couple of weeks ago.
Key trends: The Royals are 14-3 in Duffy's past 17 vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 5-1 in Duffy's past six vs. the AL West.
Early lean: Royals and under.
Cubs at Cardinals (+118, 8.5)
If the Cubs can't clinch the NL Central at home, the second-best place to do it in the minds of Cubs fans would be at arch-rival St. Louis. And that could happen Wednesday if the Cubs win the first two games and then that one. It's now pretty clear that Jason Hammel (14-8, 3.50) will be the odd man out for Chicago's rotation in the postseason. Hammel was rocked for nine runs and 13 hits over 5.2 innings in Milwaukee last time out. It was his third start this year allowing at least nine runs. Hammel has been much better at Wrigley Field this season, posting a 1.77 ERA at home vs. a 5.26 ERA on the road. He is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in three starts this year vs. St. Louis. Matt Carpenter is just 3-for-20 off him with eight strikeouts. Jhonny Peralta is 9-for-26 off him with two homers and eight RBIs. The Cards' Jaime Garcia (10-12, 4.58) has lost three straight starts and has allowed at least five runs in four of his past five. He is 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA vs. the Cubs in 2016. Jason Heyward is 3-for-19 off him with five strikeouts. Dexter Fowler is 0-for-10.
Key trends: The Cubs are 4-1 in Hammel's past five vs. the Cards. St. Louis is 1-4 in Garcia's past five vs. Chicago. The over is 5-0 in Garcia's past five.
Early lean: Cardinals and over.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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