Allow me to look ahead to a game Sunday in this space because I don't write Saturday for Sunday, and I don't want to forget an interesting statistic. The Washington Nationals are scheduled to start Joe Ross on Sunday at home against the San Diego Padres. I recommend backing the Nats (no big surprise vs. the Friars) and the over. Why? Ross has made four starts this season and the Nationals have scored 14, 15, 23 and 10 runs in those games for a total of 62, an average of 15.5 per start. The 62 runs of support for Ross is a major-league record in a pitcher's first four starts of a season. The previous mark was 58in 1895 by the Boston Beaneaters (great nickname) in support of Jim Sullivan. You might also want to put down money on a hitting prop by Washington third baseman Anthony Rendon. After having zero multi-homer games in his first 493 career starts, Rendon now has two in his past 19 starts. Both of those have come with Ross on the mound. He had that memorable 6-for-6 day with three homers and 10 RBIs on April 30 vs. the Mets and then Tuesday was 3-for-4 with two homers and five RBIs in a 10-1 win over Seattle.
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A's at Yankees ( -170, 8.5 )
Oakland's best hitter this season has been first baseman Yonder Alonso, but you will want to monitor his status as Alonso was hit on the wrist by a pitch Tuesday and sat out Wednesday. With the A's off Thursday, they are confident he can play here. The Yankees, meanwhile, have placed outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury on the seven-day concussion list. Oakland goes with Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.83). He has gone six straight starts without a victory. Graveman gave up two runs over six innings last time out vs. Boston in a no-decision. New York's Didi Gregorius is 2-for-7 off him with a homer. The Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 6.56) has been ripped for 14 runs and 16 hits over 4.2 innings in his past two starts. Is he healthy? Tanaka says he is, and Manager Joe Girardi says there has been no drop in velocity. Batters are destroying his fastball this season, hitting .390 off it. Perhaps some extra rest will help as Tanaka was to start Thursday vs. the Royals but that was rained out.
Key trends: The A's are 1-6 in Graveman's past seven on the road. The Yanks are 6-0 in Tanaka's past six on Friday. The "over/under" is 5-1 in Tanaka's past six on five days of rest.
Early lean: A's and over.
Rangers at Blue Jays (-124, 9.5)
Always fun when these two teams get together as you know the Rangers hate Jose Bautista for his bat flip in the 2015 ALDS. Bautista and Rougned Odor then got into a brawl last May when the Rangers finally got payback for that. Bautista might be the most disliked player in MLB, frankly. The Orioles didn't consider him as a free agent this offseason, their GM said, simply because their fans hated him so much. Texas goes with A.J. Griffin (4-1, 5.02). He was bombed in Detroit on Saturday to the tune of nine earned in 3.1 innings and four homers. Alex Avila, Miguel Cabrera, and J.D. Martinez hit consecutive home runs off Griffin in the first inning. He is 2-0 with a 2.39 ERA in five career starts against the Blue Jays. Bautista is 0-for-8 against him. Toronto's Mike Bolsinger (0-2, 6.32) will exit the rotation as soon as the Jays get a few of their injured starters back. Toronto has lost each of his three starts by multiple runs.
Key trends: The Rangers are 5-1 in Griffin's past six on the road. The over is 4-0 in his past four. The over is 4-0-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Rangers and over.
Angels at Marlins (+155, 9)
Miami believes outfielder Christian Yelich will avoid the DL after he left Tuesday's game with a hip flexor injury. Recovery times for hip flexor injuries vary greatly depending on the severity.Yelich is hitting .256 with six homers. The Fish go with Dan Straily (2-3, 3.70) in this interleague game. Miami had lost his past four, but that ended Saturday at the Dodgers as Straily allowed three runs and struck out eight in 5.2 innings. Straily hasn't given up more than four hits in eight straight starts and opponents are hitting just .164 off him. The Angels generally use Albert Pujols at DH but would have to play him at first base here to keep his bat in the lineup. He's 8-for-18 with two homers off Straily. The Halos' Jesse Chavez (4-5, 4.61) won at the Mets on Sunday despite allowing five runs, three homers, in 5.2 innings. Maybe Ichiro gets a start here if Yelich is out or simply because Ichiro has seen Chavez more than any Marlin and is 5-for-8 against him.
Key trends: The Marlins are 0-6 in their past six interleague home games. The over is 13-3-2 in Miami's past 18 in Game 1 of a series.
Early lean: Angels and over.
Cardinals at Rockies (+108, 10.5)
Ross isn't a qualified starter yet with just those four outings. Thus the leader in run support this season is Colorado rookie Antonio Senzatela, who is getting a whopping 7.11 runs per outing. The Rox have hit double digits behind him three times, with two of those away from hitter-friendly Coors Field. Senzatela might be hitting a bit of a wall after a very nice start to the season as he has allowed four earned in five innings in each of his past two. It's his first look at the Cardinals. St. Louis goes with Carlos Martinez (3-3, 3.28). He comes off one of the best starts of his career, a complete-game two-hitter against the Giants - but Martinez took a no-decision. Martinez now has three starts this season in which he hasn't surrendered an earned run, yet has notched a win in just one of those outings. The Rockies' Nolan Arenado is 3-for-10 career off him with a double and two RBIs.
Key trends: The Cards are 1-4 in Martinez's past five vs. teams with a winning record. The Rockies are 4-1 in Senzatela's past five at home. The over is 6-0 in Senzatela's past six.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
Cubs at Dodgers(-125, 7.5)
NLCS rematch and one of the marquee series of the season. Monitor the status of Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson. He left Tuesday's game after an ugly collision with Yasiel Puig as they converged on a deep fly ball. Puig actually caught it. Pederson apparently has avoided a concussion but has a neck strain. The Dodgers are scheduled to go with lefty Alex Wood (5-10, 1.88), who has been the team's best pitcher without the initials CK. Wood hasn't allowed a run in his past three starts spanning 18.1 innings. He lasted just 3.2 innings at Wrigley on April 10 in allowing two runs and walking five in a no-decision. Kris Bryant is 3-for-7 off him with a homer. Chicago's Jake Arrieta (5-3, 4.80) returns to the site of his 2015 no-hitter. He comes off arguably his best start of the year in allowing one unearned run over six vs. the Brewers. Arrieta is 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA in four career starts against the Dodgers. Puig is 2-for-3 off him.
Key trends: The Cubs are 0-4 in Arrieta's past four vs. the NL West. The Dodgers are 1-6 in Wood's past seven in Game 1 of a series. The under is 5-1 in Wood's past six vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
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