Trade season is upon us! The Chicago Cubs decided not to wait until the July 31 non-waiver deadline by acquiring White Sox ace lefty Jose Quintana on Thursday for a quartet of prospects. This truly looks like a win-win deal for both Chicago franchises, which rarely deal with one another. It's their first trade since 2006 and first major one since March 1992 when the White Sox acquired George Bell from the Cubs in exchange for a young unknown outfielder named Sammy Sosa (and pitcher Ken Patterson). The Cubs' rotation led the majors in ERA last year but everyone has regressed. Starting pitching was a priority need. Quintana isn't an ace, but the guy is very consistent and an innings-eater. He'll slot in as a No. 2/No. 3. Most pitchers tend to improve their numbers as well heading to the NL from the AL with that No. 9 spot in the lineup usually an easy out in the National League. Brilliant move by Theo Epstein because Quintana is only 28 and under a very team-friendly contract through 2020. Epstein didn't give up anyone on his major-league roster and gives his struggling club a bit of a charge. The Cubs moved from +1000 to +800 on BetOnline to repeat as World Series champions following the deal. The White Sox already were in full rebuild and they might have the best farm system in baseball now after adding the Cubs' best two prospects, led by outfielder Eloy Jimenez. He's ranked No. 5 overall. While the Cubs might be done dealing now, the Sox probably aren't.
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Nationals at Reds ( +178, 9.5 )
Washington's Max Scherzer continues his Cy Young campaign after pitching a scoreless inning with two strikeouts as the NL starter in Tuesday's All-Star Game. Scherzer (10-5, 2.10), my pick to win a second straight Cy Young by edging Clayton Kershaw, wasn't quite as sharp as normal in his final pre-break start in allowing four runs over 7.2 innings in a no-decision vs. Atlanta. He did strike out 10 and has hit double digits in eight of the past nine games. Scherzer hasn't faced the Reds this year. Joey Votto is 4-for-8 with a homer off him. Reds rookie Luis Castillo (1-1, 3.13) got his first big-league win in his seventh start. That was July 8 in Arizona, not an easy place to pitch this year, when he shut out the Diamondbacks on three hits over 6.2 innings. Castillo's MLB debut was June 23 in Washington (ND, 5 IP, 2 ER). Anthony Rendon homered off him.
Key trends: The Nats are 18-5 in Scherzer's past 23 vs. teams with a losing record. The "over/under" has gone under in seven of his past 10.
Early lean: Runline and under.
Phillies at Brewers (-148, 8.5)
One reason the Cubs went and got Quintana now, at least partly, was to ensure the NL Central-leading Brewers didn't as they were in deep discussions with the White Sox. If the Brew Crew had gotten him and the Cubs struck out, I fully believe Milwaukee wins that division. I still expect the Brewers to add an arm. They go with Jimmy Nelson (8-4, 3.30) here. Milwaukee has won his past three and Nelson has allowed five earned over 19 innings. It's his first look at the Phillies in 2017. Odubel Herrera is 2-for-3 against him with two doubles. Philadelphia is a disaster this year but one huge bright spot has been Aaron Nola (6-6, 3.59). He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in four straight outings. Only four Brewers have ever faced him. Ryan Braun is 1-for-3.
Key trends: The Phillies are 2-9 in Nola's past 11 vs. teams with a winning record. The Brewers are 6-1 in Nelson's past seven. The over is 11-3 in Nola's past 14 on the road.
Early lean: Phillies and under.
Rangers at Royals (-104, 9)
Texas left-hander Cole Hamels (4-0, 3.51) was bombed in his first start back after missing two months on the disabled list but much better in the following two, giving up just two runs and five hits over 14.1 innings with 12 strikeouts. He beat the Royals on April 21 by holding them to one run in eight innings and is 3-1 with a 3.67 ERA in four starts against them career. Salvador Perez is 0-for-8 against him. Alcides Escobar is 3-for-18 with six strikeouts. Kansas City lefty Danny Duffy (5-5, 3.76) has made two starts since returning from about six weeks on the DL and given up seven runs over 12.2 innings. He took a no-decision in Texas on April 20 despite shutting out the Rangers on four hits over 7.1 innings. Mike Napoli is 4-for-6 career against him with two homers. Adrian Beltre's one hit in nine at-bats is a dinger.
Key trends: The Rangers are 0-5 in Hamels' past five vs. teams with a winning record. The Royals are 5-2 in their past seven vs. a lefty. The over is 8-3 in Kansas City's past 11 vs. a lefty.
Early lean: Royals and over.
Giants at Padres (+144, 7.5)
It's way too late for the Giants to likely even finish at .500 this year, but ace lefty Madison Bumgarner (0-3, 3.00) makes his first big-league start since injuring his shoulder in late April while dirt-biking. Bumgarner made his final minor-league rehab start in Triple-A on Monday and allowed one run with eight strikeouts over six innings. All four of Bumgarner's starts this year were quality but the Giants just weren't scoring for him. He pitched in San Diego on April 8 (8 IP, 2 ER). Hunter Renfroe is 4-for-7 off him with two doubles and a homer. Bumgarner's return means Matt Cain will shift to a long relief role. Ty Blach, who originally took MadBum's spot, has pitched well enough to stay in the rotation. San Diego's Jhoulys Chacin (8-7, 4.32) could be a trade candidate. Since the start of June, he's posted a 2.44 ERA in seven starts. He's 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in two starts this year vs. the Giants. Buster Posey is a career .360 hitter vs. Chacin.
Key trends: The Padres are 5-2 in Chacin's past seven vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 4-0-1 in his past five overall.
Early lean: Padres on runline and under.
Indians at A's (+160, 8)
The Tribe have placed outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall on the disabled list. He injured a calf on Sunday, a day after the Indians lost second baseman Jason Kipnis to a right hamstring injury. While Kipnis might miss the minimum 10 days, Chisenhall is likely out at least two weeks. He leads the team with 51 RBIs despite two earlier DL stints. Chisenhall is hitting .305 with 12 homers in 64 games. It's All-Star Corey Kluber on the mound - he wasn't allowed to pitch in the ASG because he did last Sunday. Since June 1, Kluber (7-3, 2.80) has been the AL's best pitcher, going 4-1 with a 1.29 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 56 innings (eight starts). He shut out Oakland on June 1 over six innings with 10 strikeouts. The A's counter with rookie Paul Blackburn (1-0, 0.66). He has made two starts and allowed just one run over 13.2 innings. It's his first look at Cleveland.
Key trends: The Indians are 11-2 in Kluber's past 13 vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 4-1 in Kluber's past five vs. the AL West.
Early lean: Indians on runline and under.
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