You normally don't see big trades before July, but two teams with World Series aspirations, the Yankees and Cubs, could make a move before that out of desperation. The Cubs now don't know when Kyle Hendricks, last year's NL ERA champion, will return. He was placed on the DL last weekend with hand tendinitis and hoped to have the minimum stay but experienced discomfort on Tuesday while testing his right hand during a throwing session. The pain is in the back of his hand in the area extending from his middle finger.The Cubs are awaiting MRI results. Meanwhile, the Yankees' CC Sabathia, who has been magnificent of late (0.99 ERA in past six outings), suffered a strained left hamstring in Tuesday's start against the Angels and is on the DL. It has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 strain, which is moderate (Grade 1 is mild and 3 severe). But that means he's likely out at least four weeks and one would think because Sabathia is a big dude it might take him longer to get back than, say, a 5-foot-8, 170-pound pitcher. Plus Sabathia is 36. New York was also already out fishing for pitching help before this injury. It wouldn't now surprise me to see a moderately big trade before the end of the month.
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Nationals at Mets ( +125, 8 )
ESPN national TV game. The Mets simply can't get everyone healthy at once as shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has landed on the disabled list with a left thumb sprain. Interesting that the move was made Tuesday because Cabrera hit two homers vs. the Cubs on Monday. But those were both hit left-handed and the thumb really bothers him batting from the right side. The Mets are lined up to face a bunch of southpaws, so the team decided to DL Cabrera now. It's Nats ace Max Scherzer (7-4, 2.36). He was a tough-luck loser last time out vs. Texas, allowing two runs and only three hits with 10Ks over 7.1 innings. He reached 2,000 career strikeouts in the game, doing it in the third-fewest innings in MLB history. Scherzer is 1-1 this year vs. the Mets with a 5.14 ERA. Michael Conforto is 6-for-15 off him with three homers. The Mets were set to go with Robert Gsellman here but decided to move him up to Thursday (still on regular rest) and push back Steven Matz for an extra day of rest. Makes sense as Matz made his season debut off elbow trouble last Saturday in Atlanta. He surprisingly went seven innings and allowed just one run. Matz was part of the Mets' comeback win over the Cubs on Wednesday as he pinch-hit in the fourth inning and had an RBI infield single. Matz bumped his career average to .185 (10-for-54), and he's 6-for-18 with eight RBIs with runners in scoring position.
Key trends: The Nats are 5-2 in their past seven in Game 2 of a series. The Mets are 4-1 in that scenario. The "over/under" has gone under in seven of Washington's past 10.
Early lean: Nats and under.
White Sox at Blue Jays (-160, 8.5)
First meeting of the season between these teams. Chicago lefty Jose Quintana just can't get it going; perhaps all those trade rumors have affected him this year. Quintana (2-8, 5.30) hasn't won since May 2. He was just OK last time out in Cleveland, allowing three runs over five innings. Quintana has received two or fewer runs of support in 10 of his 13 starts this season. Toronto's Jose Bautista is 1-for-13 with a homer against him. Steve Pearce is 4-for-9 with two doubles and a homer and is expected to be activated off the DL on Friday. The Jays' Joe Biagini (1-5, 3.38) is working on a string of three straight quality starts, but Toronto has lost all of them thanks to scoring three total runs. I don't see how the team can shift Biagini back to the bullpen now even when the rotation is fully healthy. No White Sox have more than two official at-bats vs. Biagini.
Key trends: The White Sox are 1-9 in Quintana's past 10 series openers. The Jays are 4-1 in their past five at home vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 4-0 in Quintana's past four in Toronto.
Early lean: Jays and under.
Marlins at Braves (+108, 10)
Atlanta has lost starting third baseman Adonis Garcia for two months after having surgery to repair ligament damage in his left ring finger. He hadn't played since June 6 due to the problem but surgery was just decided. Not a huge loss as Garcia was batting .247 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 154 at-bats. But Garcia is still a much better hitter than rookie Rio Ruiz, who should handle the every-day duties for the most part going forward. Meanwhile, Miami expects to activate first baseman Justin Bour on Friday. He has been out since June 4 with an ankle injury. Bour is having a fine season, batting .295 with 16 homers and 40 RBIs in 190 at-bats. Miami starts Dan Straily (4-4, 3.89). He beat the Braves on April 11 (5 IP, 2 ER). Nick Markakis is 2-for-6 off him with a homer. Atlanta starts one of its top pitching prospects in lefty Sean Newcomb. He made his big-league debut Saturday vs. the Mets and didn't allow an earned run over 6.1 innings with seven strikeouts. He might be up for good.
Key trends: The Marlins are 1-4 in Straily's past five road games vs. teams with a losing home record. The over is 6-1 in his past seven.
Early lean: Braves and under.
Dodgers at Reds (+170, 9.5)
Monitor two Reds starters here in center fielder and MLB steals leader Billy Hamilton and shortstop Zack Cosart, the NL leader in All-Star voting at the position who is having a career season. Cosart missed a second straight game Wednesday with quad soreness, and Hamilton is dealing with thumb discomfort. Cincinnati was off Thursday, so perhaps that's enough for both to play Friday. Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was suspended for a game after he flipped off fans in Cleveland on Tuesday. Puig is appealing and played Wednesday. Not sure what there is to appeal since he clearly did it and you can't get less than one game. By the time you read this, he might have decided to sit out Thursday. L.A. goes with lefty Alex Wood (6-0, 2.01) in the series opener. He returned from the DL on Saturday and gave up three runs over 5.2 innings with seven strikeouts vs. these Reds in a no-decision. Joey Votto is 3-for-8 vs. Wood with a homer and three RBIs. Cincinnati's Tim Adleman (4-2, 4.34) has three quality starts in his past four. The only one that wasn't was Sunday at these Dodgers, allowing two runs over five innings. Rookie sensation Cody Bellinger is 1-for-2 off him with a homer and two RBIs.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 7-1 in their past eight series openers. The Reds are 1-11 in their past 12 vs. the NL West. The over is 4-0 in the past four meetings.
Early lean: Reds on runline and over.
Mariners at Rangers (+131, 9.5)
The Texas Rangers beat out the Chicago Cubs for the services of free-agent pitcher Tyson Ross this winter. Ross used to be one of the most underrated pitchers in the NL with San Diego but then injuries hit, he made only one start last season and was then on the DL the rest of the year with a shoulder injury. Ross then had surgery to remove a rib for his thoracic outlet syndrome in October. The Padres surprised many by non-tendering him this winter instead of keeping him for 2017 and hoping Ross could rebuild some trade value. Ross is set to make his American League debut on Friday with Texas. In posting the two best seasons of his major-league career in 2014-15, Ross combined to go 23-26 with a 3.03 ERA for the Padres, averaging 9.4 strikeouts per 9 innings. He was selected as an All-Star in 2014 but didn't pitch in the game. Seattle's Robinson Cano is 3-for-12 off him with a homer off him career. The Mariners go with lefty James Paxton (5-1, 2.25). He has been a bit shaky in two starts since returning from the DL, allowing seven runs and 13 hits in 12 innings. He threw eight shutout innings vs. Texas on April 15. Adrian Beltre is 7-for-13 against him with a homer.
Key trends: The Mariners are 0-6 in their past six in Texas. The over is 7-1 in the past eight meetings there.
Early lean: Mariners and over.
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