Something happened on Thursday in Major League Baseball that won't have any betting ramifications this season or probably next. But it's worth putting in your back pocket going forward: MLB cleared Cuban outfielder Luis Robert to sign with a team, and he'll officially become a free agent on May 20. Why is this important? Robert's agents had to get this clearance done soon because baseball's new CBA calls for hard caps on international spending for the 2017-2018 signing period, and the 2016-2017 signing period ends in a couple of months. Robert is just 19 so he's obviously not going straight to the majors, but scouts rave about the guy. He's considered the No. 2 international prospect behind Japanese dual phenom Shohei Ohtani. An early prediction on where Robert lands: the White Sox. They are rebuilding, and he would fit their timeline of a return to contention in 2019. Plus, the Sox have long been a Cuban-friendly organization.
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Cubs at Reds ( +178, 8.5 )
MLB Network game at 1 p.m. ET. It's lefty Cody Reed on the mound for the Reds, and with this being a day game after a night and the fact Reed is a lefty, I can see Joe Maddon giving slugging outfielder Kyle Schwarber the game off as he doesn't hit lefties near as well as right-handers. Reed (1-0, 0.00) has pitched eight relief innings this year for the Reds, who need him as a starter because they have four of them on the DL. Reed was a wretched 0-7 with a 7.36 ERA in 10 starts last season. Kris Bryant is 3-for-4 off him with a homer. Addison Russell is 2-for-5 with a dinger. Jake Arrieta (2-0, 2.89) was originally set for Friday's series opener but was flip-flopped because of an upcoming series for the Cubs. Too bad because Friday was the one year anniversary of Arrieta's second career no-hitter, which he did against the Reds in Cincinnati, a 16-0 Cubs win. I'm doubting anyone has ever thrown two no-nos on the same date. Billy Hamilton is 3-for-12 with five walks off Arrieta.
Key trends: The Cubs are 4-1 in Arrieta's past five vs. the Reds. The "over/under" is 5-1-1 in his past seven against them.
Early lean: Cubs and over.
Nationals at Mets (-120, 7.5)
Fox Sports 1 telecast at 4:05 p.m. ET. The injury bug is hitting the Mets again already. The latest are to outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and first baseman Lucas Duda. Cespedes has a hamstring injury that he thinks will only cause him to miss 2-3 days. Duda, who missed a ton of time last year with a stress fracture in his back, is now dealing with a hyperextended left elbow. As of now, it's not clear if either will require a DL stint. Phillies runner Cesar Hernandez ran into Duda's arm on Wednesday when he was reaching for an errant throw from the pitcher. It's Matt Harvey (2-0, 2.45) for the Mets. He looks good, not allowing more than two earned in three starts. Harvey went 0-3 in three starts vs. Washington last year, allowing 15 runs in 11 1/3 innings. Bryce Harper is an obscene 1-for-26 off him with seven strikeouts. The Nats go with lefty Gio Gonzalez (1-0. 1.33). He also is yet to allow more than two earned in a start. He was 2-1 with a 5.29 ERA in three starts last year vs. the Mets.
Key trends: The Nats are 10-2 in Gonzalez's past 12 at the Mets. The Mets are 0-4 in Harvey's past four vs. the Nats. The under is 5-1-1 in Gonzalez's past seven in New York.
Early lean: Nats and under.
Yankees at Pirates (-110, 7.5)
Again, no DH for the Yankees in this 4:05 p.m. ET first pitch. As of Friday, the Pirates haven't won since Starling Marte was suspended for 80 games and had scored two runs. One bright spot this year for Pittsburgh has been former top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon (1-0, 0.90), who has allowed two earned runs and 16 hits over 20 innings. Taillon brings a career 2.88 ERA at home into this one. The only Yankee to have seen him is Chris Carter, and he's not likely to play. New York's Michael Pineda (2-1, 3.44) was shaky in his debut but sparkled in his past two starts, both at home, in allowing three earned runs with 15 strikeouts over 14.2 innings, both wins. The only Pirate to have faced him is John Jaso, who is 2-for-2. He's not generally a regular, but Marte's suspension could open up more time for him.
Key trends: The Yankees are 4-9 in Pineda's past 13 following a quality start in his last appearance. The under is 5-2-1 in Taillon's past eight at home.
Early lean: Pirates and under.
Cardinals at Brewers (+110, 9)
The Cardinals placed third baseman Jhonny Peralta on the 10-day DL with an upper respiratory illness, but he might have lost his job regardless. Jedd Gyorko and Greg Garcia have been playing more at third of late as Peralta is hitting just .120 without an RBI and isn't exactly a Gold Glover. Lance Lynn (1-1, 3.12) is on the bump for St. Louis. He was so-so his first two outings but dominated the Pirates last time out in throwing seven innings of three-hit shutout ball. Lynn missed all of last year and was 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA in four starts vs. the Brewers in 2015. Ryan Braun is 8-for-28 off him with a homer and eight strikeouts. Milwaukee's Chase Anderson (2-0, 1.50) won at the Cubs on Monday, allowing two earned over five innings in his worst start of the year. In five career starts against the Cards, he has a 2.42 ERA. Gyorko is 5-for-14 off him. Randal Grichuk is 2-for-7 with three RBIs.
Key trends: The Cardinals are 4-1 in Lynn's past five in Milwaukee. The under is 4-1 in his previous five against them overall.
Early lean: Brewers and under.
Marlins at Padres (+110, 8.5)
I don't want to say we might have had our first no-hitter last Sunday when Miami's Dan Straily (1-1, 4.61) pitched against the visiting Mets, but we'll never know as Manager Don Mattingly pulled Straily even though he had thrown 5.1 no-hit innings. Straily had walked five and was at 93 pitches. So clearly he was never going to go the distance. Straily didn't face the Padres last year while with Cincinnati. The only current one to have faced him is Erick Aybar, who is 6-for-14 with an RBI. San Diego's Jered Weaver (0-1, 4.24) can't even hit 85 mph on his fastball these days but has given the Padres back-to-back quality starts. This will be his first start as a Padre at pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Only a few Marlins have seen him. Ichiro has by far the most, although he might not play, batting .257 in 74 at-bats. Dee Gordon is 0-for-3 against him.
Key trends: The Marlins are 5-11 in their past 16 in Game 2 of a series. The Padres are 1-4 in their past five on Saturday. The under is 5-0 in the Padres' past seven in Game 2 of a series.
Early lean: Marlins and under.
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