The Cleveland Indians are going to win the AL Central, barring an epic collapse, for their first division title since 2007. But I don't give them a great shot of reaching the World Series for the first time since 1997 due to the news that All-Star right-hander Danny Salazar is probably done for the season. An MRI on his right forearm showed mild strain of the flexor muscle, and he was to receive a platelet rich plasma injection in there on Tuesday. Salazar won't touch a baseball for 10 days and might be able to get back in 3-4 weeks. But that's best-case scenario. Salazar also landed on the DL earlier this season with a sore right elbow, so that pitching arm seems to be telling him something. The last thing the Tribe want to do is rush him back and see him need Tommy John surgery. In five starts since coming off the DL, Salazar is 0-2 with a 8.05 ERA. He is 11-6 with a 3.87 ERA overall.
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Cubs at Cardinals (+124, 7.5)
A 1:45 p.m. ET getaway day game and should have live betting with it shown on the MLB Network. The Cubs, who could clinch the NL Central with a win here if they also win Tuesday, have now all but made it clear that lefty Jon Lester will pitch Game 1 of the NLDS regardless of opponent. Lester (16-4, 2.51) is very much in the Cy Young race as he brings a streak of eight straight quality starts into this one. Lester shut out the Astros on seven hits over seven innings with seven strikeouts and no walks last time out. He is 6-0 with a 1.17 ERA in those past eight. Lester took a no-decision in his lone start vs. the Cards this year on Aug. 11, allowing two runs and five hits over six innings. Jhonny Peralta is 10-for-43 off him career with three homers and 12 strikeouts. Monitor Matt Carpenter's status after he left Monday's game with back tightness. The Cards go with their ace in Carlos Martinez (14-7, 3.05). They have won his past five. He allowed two earned over seven innings on Friday vs. Milwaukee. Martinez is 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA in three starts this year vs. the Cubs. Anthony Rizzo is 6-for-20 with two homers and six RBIs off him. Kris Bryant is 3-for-15 with six strikeouts.
Key trends: The Cubs are 1-4 in Lester's past five vs. St. Louis. The Cards are 4-1 in Martinez's past five at home vs. the Cubs. The "over/under" has gone under in four of Lester's past five vs. St. Louis.
Early lean: Cardinals -- I love them if Cubs can clinch as the Cards won't want to see that on their home field or get swept -- and under.
Dodgers at Yankees (+182, 7.5)
Los Angeles adds the DH for this interleague matchup. It's the second start since a long DL stint for Clayton Kershaw (11-3, 1.89). The Dodgers clearly are going to ease him back from his herniated disk problem as he was pulled after three innings and 66 pitches in Miami on Friday. He allowed two runs and struck out five but most important was feeling fine. I'm sure the team will let him up that pitch count by at least 20 here. Not many Yankees have ever seen him. Starlin Castro is 2-for-23 off him with seven strikeouts. Chase Headley is 11-for-52 with 12 whiffs. The Bombers go with Michael Pineda (6-11, 5.07). He's looking for his first win since Aug. 5. Pineda lasted 4.2 innings in his last start, giving up two runs and six hits with seven strikeouts. Only a few Dodgers have seen him. Adrian Gonzalez is 2-for-3 with a double. Chase Utley is 1-for-4.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 7-0 in Kershaw's past seven road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Yankees are 5-2 in Pineda's past seven at home. The under is 6-1-1 in Kershaw's past eight on the road.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
Orioles at Red Sox (-159, 9.5)
First of an ESPN Wednesday night doubleheader. It appears the Sox will activate good-looking rookie left fielder Andrew Benintendi from the DL for this game. When he went down with a knee injury on Aug. 24 at Tampa Bay, it looked really bad but fortunately wasn't. He's hitting .324 with a homer and 10 RBIs in 68 at-bats. Boston's Rick Porcello (20-3, 3.21) has to be the AL Cy Young favorite now and could be the only pitcher in baseball to reach 20 wins this year. He hit that magic number Friday in Toronto, allowing two earned over seven innings. Porcello is Boston's first 20-game winner since 2007 and is 13-0 at Fenway this year. He has made one start vs. the Orioles, June 2 at Camden Yards, and took a no-decision in allowing five runs in six innings. Adam Jones is 10-for-37 off him with two homers. Mark Trumbo has two dingers in 19 at-bats. Baltimore's Kevin Gausman (7-10, 3.61) comes off a no-decision in Detroit, allowing three earned over six innings. He's 0-2 with an 11.00 ERA this year vs. Boston. David Ortiz is 8-for-18 off him with two homers. Mookie Betts is 5-for-14 and has gone yard twice.
Key trends: The Orioles are 3-11 in Gausman's past 14 road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Sox are 7-1 in Porcello's past eight vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 5-1 in his past six overall.
Early lean: Red Sox and over.
Pirates at Phillies (+110, 8.5)
Pittsburgh is pretty clearly not going to the playoffs and is going to be without second baseman Josh Harrison for the rest of the season due to a right groin strain. He hit .283 with four homers, 59 RBIs and 19 steals in 131 games. Outfielder Starling Marte missed another game Monday with a back injury, so monitor his status. I'm guessing he could be shut down as soon as the Bucs are eliminated. Pittsburgh goes with rookie lefty Steven Brault (0-2, 3.38) in his sixth big-league start. He hasn't allowed more than three earned yet but also has gone more than five innings only once. He hasn't seen the Phillies. They start rookie Jake Thompson (1-5, 6.05). He has been better of late, allowing two earned or fewer in three straight starts for a 2.33 ERA over them. This will be his first time facing Pittsburgh.
Key trends: The Pirates are 0-4 in Brault's past four. The Phillies are 0-5 in Thompson's past five. The over is 5-2-1 in Philadelphia's past eight vs. lefties.
Early lean: Pirates and over.
Mariners at Angels (-105, 8)
ESPN nightcap. Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma (15-11, 3.96) ended a four-start losing streak on Friday in Oakland, giving up two runs and seven hits over 6.2 innings. He has yet to win more than 15 games in a season in his career. Iwakuma is 0-2 with a 3.49 ERA in four starts this year against the Halos. Mike Trout hits only .196 off him in 46 at-bats with 12 strikeouts. Albert Pujols is at.157 with 10 strikeouts in 51 at-bats. L.A lefty Tyler Skaggs (3-3, 4.13) threw six shutout innings and was touched up for only two hits in his last start against Texas, but he didn't get a decision. Over his last three starts, Skaggs is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA. So maybe the Angels will have one good piece of pitching news this year in an otherwise terrible, injury-plagued season in the rotation. Skaggs is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in 2016 against the Mariners. Robinson Cano is 6-for-12 off him with three doubles. Kyle Seager is 6-for-13 with a solo homer
Key trends: The Mariners are 1-4 in Iwakuma's past six at the Angels. L.A. is 2-6 in Skaggs' past eight vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 6-2 in Iwakuma's past eight.
Early lean: Angels and under.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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