While I think that the Cleveland Indians will win the AL Central regardless, they might regret not putting a little more distance between themselves and the Detroit Tigers by Friday. That's because Detroit is likely to activate one of the better offensive players in the American League in outfielder J.D. Martinez. He suffered a Lisfranc injury in spring training but has been down in minor-league rehab and should be in the lineup Friday barring a setback. Martinez was a breakout star in 2015 in hitting 38 homers with 102 RBIs. He was limited to 120 games in 2016 due to injury (not foot-related) and hit .307 with 22 homers and 68 RBIs. Detroit has been going with a mish-mash of players in right field in his absence, although Jim Adduci his surprised enough that he might stay on the big-league roster. If the Tigers do fall out of playoff contention by mid-July, Martinez could be a big trade chip as he's set for free agency after this season and the now somewhat cash-strapped Tigers likely wouldn't be able to afford to re-sign Martinez.
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Phillies at Nationals ( -188, 9 )
If the Nationals have one glaring issue, it's in the bullpen with the lack of a bona-fide closer. Two guys who shared those duties earlier this season, Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover, are both likely to be activated from the DL on Friday. Neither exactly dominated earlier, so I still believe the Nats will make a trade for a ninth-inning guy. Washington starts Tanner Roark (3-1, 3.46) here. He has faced the Phillies twice already and doesn't have a decision despite a 1.38 ERA and .136 opponents' batting average against. Odubel Herrera is 9-for-21 off him with three doubles. Philadelphia rookie Nick Pivetta (0-2, 5.40) makes the third start of his MLB career and second straight vs. Washington. He allowed four runs and three homers in a loss on May 5. Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman both went yard.
Key trends: The Phillies are 5-17 in the past 22 meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in 11 of the past 16.
Early lean: Nationals and over.
Mariners at Blue Jays (-137, 9.5)
Seattle is awaiting word on an MRI of No. 2 starter Hisashi Iwakuma. He has become the fourth Mariners starting pitcher to land on the DL this season and is dealing with shoulder inflammation. Iwakuma, 36, is 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA in six starts (31 innings this season).Yovani Gallardo is the only starting pitcher from the team's projected rotation to stay healthy this season. Chase De Jong 90-2, 6.75) will slide into Iwakuma's spot here.De Jong moves up a day, although he will be on normal rest thanks to Monday's team off day. De Jong pitched well last time out vs. Texas in allowing one run over six innings. He became only the 11th Mariners rookie pitcher with a start of at least 6.0 innings pitched with four-or-fewer hits allowed, one-or-fewer runs allowed and no walks. De Jong has never faced Toronto. The Jays counter with a former reliever of their own in Joe Biagini (0-1, 2.78). He made his first start of his two-year career on Sunday in Tampa, shutting out the Rays over four innings. Biagini was limited to the 50-pitch range then and will be around mid-70s here. Jays DH Kendrys Morales is likely out with a hamstring strain.
Key trends: The M's are 4-1 in their past five in Game 2 of a series. The Jays are 1-5 in their past six in Game 2 of a series. The under is 6-0 in Seattle's past six on Friday.
Early lean: Mariners and over.
Braves at Marlins (-136, 8.5)
Miami is running out of infielders. After putting utilityman Miguel Rojas and third baseman Martin Prado on the DL earlier this week, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria has joined them with a left oblique strain. This stint might take a while because. Hechavarria spent time on the disabled list in April with the very same injury. So now the Marlins are looking at a starting left side of the infield of Derek Dietrich at the hot corner and J.T. Riddle at short. That's not good. Although usual second baseman Dee Gordon started at short on Wednesday. Not sure if that will continue. Miami goes with young right-hander Jose Urena (1-0, 1.69). He began the year in the bullpen but started Sunday at the Mets and shut them out on one hit over six innings. Last year, Urena was 0-2 with an 18.00 ERA in four innings vs. the Braves. Atlanta's Mike Foltynewicz (0-4, 4.55) had a string of three straight quality starts snapped last time out in allowing seven runs in four innings vs. the Cardinals. He gave up two runs in two innings on April 11 in Miami. Marcell Ozuna is 2-for-5 with a homer off him.
Key trends: The Braves are 0-4 in Foltynewicz's past four on the road. The Marlins are 0-8 in their past eight series openers. They are 1-9 in Urena's past 10 at home. The under is 4-0-2 in Urena's past six.
Early lean: Marlins and under.
Rays at Red Sox (-160, 8.5)
Tampa Bay lost three of four in Boston over Patriots' Day weekend. Interesting that the Rays have to go back there before the Red Sox visit St. Petersburg (right before All-Star break). Tampa's Alex Cobb (2-3, 3.56) has been excellent his past two starts in allowing two earned and eight hits over 14 innings. He took a no-decision in Boston on April 16 and allowed four runs and a season-high 11 hits over five. Xander Bogaerts is 3-for-6 off him with two doubles. In five career starts at Fenway Park, Cobb is 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA. Boston's Rick Porcello (2-4, 3.95) is rounding into his 2016 Cy Young form with a 1.69 ERA in his last four starts. He was shelled in a loss to the Rays on April 14 (4.1 IP, 8 ER). Porcello is 10-5 with a 3.53 ERA lifetime against the Rays. Brad Miller is 7-for-23 off him with four homers.
Key trends: The Red Sox are 8-3 in Porcello's past 11 vs. Tampa. The Rays are 2-6 in Cobb's past eight vs. Boston. The under is 5-1 in Porcello's past six at home.
Early lean: Like the under here more than side (Red Sox).
Orioles at Royals (+105, 8)
If you haven't picked up Brad Brach in your fantasy league yet, do it now. He's going to be Baltimore's closer until likely the All-Star break with Zach Britton now out 45-60 days with his forearm issue. Brach has been terrific in the role, but then that weakens the Orioles in the eighth inning. The Birds go with their presumed ace in Chris Tillman. He made his season debut off a shoulder problem Sunday and beat the White Sox with five shutout innings. Tillman threw eight shutout innings last year in his lone start vs. the Royals. Salvador Perez is 5-for-14 off him with a homer. Royals lefty Danny Duffy (2-3, 3.50) hasn't won in his past four as K.C. has been blanked in three of them. He was 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 7.1 innings in 2016 vs. the Orioles. Manny Machado is 0-for-11 against him with seven strikeouts. Adam Jones is 1-for-15 with eight Ks.
Key trends: The Orioles are 7-2 in Tillman's past nine on the road. The Royals are 2-5 in Duffy's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 4-1 in Duffy's past five vs. Baltimore.
Early lean: Like under more than Orioles.
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