What has been the most impressive recent class of Rookies of the Year in baseball? Last year it was Detroit pitcher Michael Fulmer and Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager. Pretty good but not historic. The 2015 winners, Houston's Carlos Correa and Cubs' Kris Bryant, both are on early Hall of Fame tracks with obviously a long way to go. That Mike Trout/Bryce Harper double in 2012 was spectacular. Yet if the Yankees' Aaron Judge and Dodgers' Cody Bellinger keep going as they have been, they could make this a historic rookie class. We talked about Judge a few weeks ago, and he continues to lead the AL in all three Triple Crown categories. Bellinger, meanwhile, didn't get called up until late April, but he has been the team's best player since then. Bellinger only got promoted because both Joc Pederson and Franklin Gutierrez were injured. The team said that when both those players were back, Bellinger would return to Triple-A. Except Bellinger has been too good. He had two more homers Tuesday and one Wednesday, giving him an NL-leading 22 in 52 games. No player in MLB history had ever hit that many in his first 52. BetOnline currently doesn't have Bellinger among its NL MVP candidates - that will certainly change. He's +600 to lead the majors in homers, with Judge at +160.
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Cardinals at Phillies ( +113, 8.5 )
A 1:05 p.m. ET first pitch. The awful Phillies have started cleaning house, although I'm guessing Manager Pete Mackanin is safe considering he got an extension through 2018 back in May - that looks like a bad decision at the moment. The Phils have designated Opening Day closer Jeanmar Gomez and starting left fielder Michael Saunders for assignment. Those two combine to make $13.2 million this season, by the way. I have no idea what the team was thinking giving Saunders a one-year, $9 million deal in free agency. It's Aaron Nola (3-5, 4.76) on the mound for Philadelphia. He pitched in St. Louis two starts ago and gave up three runs in five innings in a loss. Dexter Fowler is 3-for-5 career against him with two homers. The Cardinals' Carlos Martinez (6-5, 2.86) was brilliant vs. the Phillies on June 10, shutting them out on four hits with 11 strikeouts. He has struck out at least eight in five consecutive starts.
Key trends: The Cards are 13-3 in Martinez's past 16 road starts vs. teams with a losing record. The Phillies are 1-5 in Nola's past six at home. The "over/under" has gone under in five of Martinez's past six.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
Blue Jays at Rangers (+117, 10.5)
A 2:05 p.m. ET first pitch. Keep in mind these teams still hate each other, and this will be their final game of the season. I'm not saying some funny business could occur … but I wouldn't rule it out. It was in their final regular-season meeting last year that the whole Jose Bautista/Rougned Odor fight happened. The Jays start Marcus Stroman (7-3, 3.15). They had won seven straight of his starts, but Stroman took the loss Saturday vs. the White Sox in allowing three solo homers in seven innings. He didn't face Texas earlier this year. Rangers lefty Martin Perez (3-6, 4.72) won last time out for the first time since May 18 despite giving up four runs and seven hits over 5.1 innings vs. Seattle. All his wins have come at home, where he is 3-4 with a 5.01 ERA in nine games. Josh Donaldson is 6-for-18 against him with three doubles.
Key trends: The Jays are 5-1 in Stroman's past six on the road. The Rangers are 0-5 in Perez's past five vs. the AL East. The over is 10-4-1 in Perez's past 15 at home.
Early lean: Blue Jays and over.
Indians at Orioles (+108, 10)
Conclusion of a four-game series between these 2016 playoff teams who are going in opposite directions. The Tribe are trending up and the Orioles down. The Indians will recall Mike Clevinger (2-3, 3.89) from Triple-A Columbus to start here. They did the same Saturday in Game 2 of a doubleheader vs. Minnesota and Clevinger allowed one run on two hits in four innings in a rain-shortened outing. Normally a player has to say in the minors 10 days after being sent down, but Clevinger was the 26 th man on the roster in the doubleheader so he's allowed to come back sooner. Baltimore's Mark Trumbo is 1-for-2 off him with three RBIs. Orioles lefty Wade Miley (3-4, 4.29) continued his recent regression in allowing six runs over 5.2 innings vs. the Cardinals last time out but still won. Cleveland's Edwin Encarnacion is 5-for-10 with two doubles, two homers and seven walks against him.
Key trends: The Orioles are 4-1 in Miley's past five at home. The over is 4-0 in his past four.
Early lean: Orioles, an Encarnacion prop and over.
Cubs at Marlins (+140, 8.5)
Monitor Cubs outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward for this one. Schwarber exited Monday's game after fouling a ball off his right ankle. X-rays came back clean, but he didn't play Tuesday and might sit another game or two. Heyward suffered a laceration on his right hand on a dive Sunday and didn't play Monday or Tuesday. The Cubbies go with Jake Arrieta (6-5, 4.64) in the series opener. The 2015 Cy Young winner has failed to last five innings in back-to-back starts. He beat Miami on June 6, giving up two runs over six innings. Giancarlo Stanton is 2-for-8 off him with a homer against him. Marlins lefty Jeff Locke (0-2, 4.58) has allowed three earned runs each in his past three outings. That includes opposite Arrieta on June 6, lasting 4.2 innings. Anthony Rizzo hits .379 vs. Locke with five homers and 12 RBIs in 29 at-bats.
Key trends: The Cubs are 7-0 in Arrieta's past seven on Thursday. The Marlins are 0-4 in Locke's past four. The over is 9-4 in Arrieta's past 13. The Cubs are 1-5 in their past six in Miami.
Early lean: Marlins and over.
Mets at Dodgers (-171, 8)
Series finale between these 2016 playoff teams. Mets lefty Steven Matz (1-1, 3.21) has made two starts this season after starting the year on the DL. His first outing was excellent vs. Atlanta, while last time out he gave up four runs, three homers, over seven innings in a home loss to Washington. He is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 13 strikeouts in two career starts at Dodger Stadium. Bellinger hasn't faced him. Yasiel Puig is 0-for-6. L.A. lefty Alex Wood (7-0, 1.90) continues to dominate. He won in Cincinnati last time out, allowing one run and four hits in a season-high eight innings. Wood is the first Dodger to go undefeated his first 10 starts of the season since Orel Hershiser in 1985. The Mets' Travis d'Arnaud is 3-for-5 off him with two doubles.
Key trends: The Mets are 1-4 in Matz's past five vs. teams with a winning record. The Dodgers are 5-0 in Wood's past five at home. The under is 8-3 in Matz's past 11.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
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