If you are a true baseball betting junkie, then Saturday is like Christmas for you because it's likely going to be the busiest day of the season. Because there are two doubleheaders, there are 17 games. Good thing, too, because there's no NBA Finals or Stanley Cup Finals action on Saturday. One doubleheader features the Mets and the Braves and one is a makeup game as you would expect. The May 4 one between the two was rained out in the fourth inning (Mets led 3-1 but since it didn't go five innings, no stats count) at SunTrust Park, which hosts its first-ever twin bill. The other doubleheader is Oakland at Tampa Bay, which is MLB's first scheduled doubleheader since July 16, 2011. The Rays don't draw well at all, especially against a no-name team like Oakland, so the club requested this of MLB and will offer a single admission price to watch both games. It will be the second doubleheader ever at Tropicana Field. On Sept. 30, 2004, the Rays and Detroit Tigers played a single-admission doubleheader after Hurricane Frances forced postponement of two games four weeks earlier.
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Rangers at Nationals ( -190, 9 )
Unusually early 12:05 p.m. ET start (due, I assume, to Capital Pride parade later in the day) for this interleague matchup, with the Rangers losing the DH. What do these clubs have in common? They were finalists along with the Colorado Rockies to sign former Royals free-agent closer Greg Holland this offseason. The Rockies got Holland, and he has been spectacular, while the Texas and Washington bullpens have had major issues. It's a matchup of lefties here. The Rangers' Martin Perez (2-6, 4.64) has been shelled for 11 runs and 16 hits over 8.2 innings in his past two outings. You frankly should be never bet this guy away from Arlington as he's 4-16 with a 5.15 ERA in 30 road starts in his career. Perez has never faced Washington. The Nats go with Gio Gonzalez (5-1, 3.03), who leads the NL with 37 walks. He has thrown back-to-back quality starts and won both. Texas' Jonathan Lucroy is 8-for-13 off him with three RBIs. Elvis Andrus is 6-for-18 with two doubles.
Key trends: The Rangers are 0-4 in Perez's past four vs. teams with a winning record. The Nats are 7-3 in their past 10 vs. lefties. The "over/under" has gone under in 10 of Perez's past 15 interleague starts. The under is 6-0 in Washington's past six vs. a lefty.
Early lean: Nats and under (that start time should really help the pitchers).
Rockies at Cubs (-124, TBA)
You could see struggling Cubs shortstop Addison Russell get some time away from the team as he's going through a social media nightmare with his wife. Russell, at least if you believe some Instagram posts by his wife and one of her friends, has cheated on her and mentally and physically abused her. Sounds like they are getting divorced. Major League Baseball is investigating those domestic violence allegations and plans to interview the wife and the friend. All this drama might explain why Russell has regressed in a big way this year. It's former top Rockies pitching prospect Eddie Butler (3-1, 3.75) for the Cubs as he faces his former club for the first time. He has generally been solid in his five starts for Chicago but isn't given a long leash with one start reaching the sixth inning. Joe Maddon essentially doesn't want him facing a lineup the third time through. Colorado's current top pitching prospect is likely Jeff Hoffman (3-0, 2.61), the No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Blue Jays. He has allowed one run and three hits over seven innings in each of his past two. Hoffman allowed one run in 1.1 innings in his 2017 debut vs. the Cubs. Kris Bryant is 3-for-4 against him with two homers.
Key trends: The Rockies are 7-1 in their past eight road games vs. a right-hander. The over is 4-1 in Hoffman's past five. The under is 4-1 in Butler's past five.
Early lean: Rockies.
Royals at Padres (+102, 8.5)
A Fox Sports 1 national TV game at 4:10 p.m. ET. It's the first big-league start for San Diego's Miguel Diaz, who takes the rotation spot of the injured Jarred Cosart (elbow). Diaz, a 22-year-old former Rule 5 pick, has pitched 21 times in relief (24 innings) and is 1-1 with a 7.50 ERA. He hasn't thrown more than 43 pitches so he undoubtedly will be on some sort of limit around 60. Manager Andy Green and pitching coach Darren Balsley both have said they think Diaz will be a full-time starter at some point and the team is hoping that he becomes this year's version of Luis Perdomo. In 2016, he went from a Rule 5 draftee pitching in relief to a promising starter. Kansas City's Ian Kennedy (0-6, 5.33) pitched for San Diego from 2013-15. He has given up at least four earned runs and in five innings or fewer in five straight outings. That has been good for a 10.24 ERA. Just a few Padres have seen him. Erick Aybar is 4-for-6. Wil Myers is 1-for-2.
Key trends: The Royals are 0-4 in Kennedy's past four vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 5-0-1 in his past six.
Early lean: Padres and over.
Tigers at Red Sox (-175, 8.5)
The marquee pitching matchup of the day. Detroit's Justin Verlander (4-4, 4.63) left his start Sunday with a groin issue but checked out OK after. He labored through two innings vs. the White Sox. It was Verlander's shortest start since he went only one inning against Pittsburgh on Aug. 11, 2014, and the fourth start of his big-league career in which he did not get an out in the third.Verlander threw off flat ground Tuesday at Comerica Park and then a bullpen session Thursday to prove he was healthy enough to start. Boston's Chris Sale (7-2, 2.89) remained personally unbeaten in seven straight starts in beating Baltimore last time out, allowing three runs and striking out nine in six innings. In 30 career outings against the Tigers, Sale is 8-8 with a 3.01 ERA. Victor Martinez is a career .429 hitter with four homers in 49 at-bats against him. Miguel Cabrera has four homers and 16 strikeouts vs. Sale in 49 at-bats.
Key trends: The Tigers are 9-3 in their past 12 road games vs. a lefty. The Sox are 5-1 in Sale's past six at home. The over is 5-1 in his past six overall.
Early lean: Tigers on runline and under.
Orioles at Yankees (-175, 9)
The Birds breathed a huge sigh of relief Wednesday night as star third baseman Manny Machado was removed from the team's game vs. Pittsburgh after being accidentally spiked in the left hand and wrist by sliding Pirates runner Andrew McCutchen. X-rays were negative, but Machado is likely to miss few games as he suffered a strain, cut and a bruise. He's the one guy that team can't lose for an extended period. Machado himself says he's not sure he can play all weekend. Baltimore starts Chris Tillman (1-3, 5.59). He hasn't not won since his first start on May 7, a span of five straight outings. His worst start was May 30 vs. the Yankees, allowing five runs and seven hits (three homers) in just 2.2 innings. Matt Holliday is 3-for-5 with two homers against him. New York's Luis Severino (4-2, 2.90) has thrown three straight quality starts. That includes a win in Baltimore opposite Tillman, allowing one run over 6.1 innings. Mark Trumbo is 4-for-10 with two homers against him.
Key trends: The Orioles are 4-1 in Tillman's past five vs. New York. The over is 6-2-1 in his previous nine in the Bronx. The Yanks are 5-0 in Severino's past five vs. teams with a winning record.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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