The Atlanta Braves aren't a particularly good team and there were never any expectations that they would compete for a playoff spot in 2017, their first year in their new ballpark. The target was always 2018. That said, Atlanta had overachieved a bit thus far, but I'd start fading the Braves now that first baseman Freddie Freeman will miss 10 weeks with a non-displaced left wrist fracture. Freeman left Wednesday's 8-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays after being struck on his wrist by a pitch from Aaron Loup in the fifth inning. Freeman had been carrying that average (at best) offense by hitting .341 with 14 homers (tied for MLB lead) 25 RBIs and a spectacular on-base percentage of .461. He had accounted for 2.3 of the Braves' 3.7 team oWAR (offensive Wins Above Replacement) and was a legit NL MVP candidate. Matt Kemp also has gotten off to a good start for the Braves, but now he's going to get nothing to hit. Since every team is guaranteed one All-Star, that probably would be Kemp now as the timetable would keep Freeman out past the Midsummer Classic in Miami.
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Yankees at Rays ( +108, 8 )
Tampa Bay has placed second baseman Brad Miller on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to May 16, with a lower abdominal strain. I'm not saying they should test this guy for PEDs … but they should test this guy for PEDs. Last year, Miller blew up for 30 homers, by far a career high. This year in 132 at-bats he was hitting .205 with two homers. Rookie Daniel Robertson will fill in at second base. The Rays go with Matt Andriese (3-1, 3.18). He faced the Yankees on April 13 and took a no-decision after allowing one run on five hits in six innings. Aaron Hicks is 3-for-5 off him with two homers. New York's Masahiro Tanaka (5-2, 5.80) was blasted last Sunday night by Houston, allowing eight runs and four homers in just 1.2 innings. It was his second-worst start of the season. The other was Opening Day at Tampa Bay, giving up seven runs in 2.2 innings. Corey Dickerson is 6-for-16 off him with a homer. Tanaka had otherwise owned the Rays in his career.
Key trends: The Yankees are 8-1 in Tanaka's past nine vs. the Rays. The "over/under" is 6-1 in his past seven on the road. The over is 5-2 in Andriese's past seven at home.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Phillies at Pirates (-130, 8.5)
A season full of bad news regarding injuries and suspensions just got a bit worse for the Pirates as it doesn't appear they will have the services of starting third baseman Jung Ho Kang, a fine hitter, the entire season. He lost an appeal of a suspended eight-month jail sentence in his native South Korea for another DUI arrest. Kang won't have to serve jail time if he stays out of trouble the next two years, but the problem is that he can't get a work visa. It was Kang's third DUI arrest since 2009 so his MLB career might be over. Pittsburgh goes with Ivan Nova (3-3, 2.48). He has gone at least six innings in all eight starts, and seven of them were quality ones. He allowed one earned in six innings last year in his lone outing vs. the Phillies. Philadelphia's Vince Velasquez (2-3, 5.63) has allowed at least three runs in all but one of his seven starts this year. If you believe in the hard-hit ball statistic, then that's not good for him as batters are averaging an 89.7-mph exit velocity against Velasquez, ninth-highest in the majors.
Key trends: The Phillies are 3-13 in Velasquez's past 16. The over is 7-1 in his past eight.
Early lean: Pirates and under.
Blue Jays at Orioles (-159, 9.5)
Toronto suspended outfielder Kevin Pillar two games on Thursday after he acknowledged that he used a homophobic slur Wednesday after a quick-pitch strikeout by Braves reliever Jason Motte. That led to the benches clearing. It was obvious what Pillar said if you watch the video. Might MLB step in and add more games? If not, he would be eligible to play here. Yunel Escobar, then with the Blue Jays, was suspended for three games in 2012 after writing an anti-gay slur on his eye-black patches.He was basically run out of town after that, but Escobar wasn't any good then. Pillar leads the team in batting average and OBP. Toronto starts Mike Bolsinger (0-2, 6.10), who is only in the rotation due to injuries and this could well be his last start as Bolsinger has given up seven earned over 10.1 innings while walking six. Only a couple of Orioles have seen him. Welington Castillo is 3-for-10 against Bolsinger. Baltimore's Kevin Gausman (2-3, 7.19) has given up at least five earned in four of his past six starts to see that ERA spike. He is 1-0 with a 2.38 ERA in two outings this year vs. the Jays. Jose Bautista is just 2-for-18 against him.
Key trends: The Jays are 1-4 in their past five in Game 2 of a series. The Orioles are 2-5 in their past seven in Game 2. The over is 5-2 in Baltimore's previous seven vs. a right-hander.
Early lean: Orioles and over.
Rangers at Tigers (-148, 8.5)
Monitor the status of Tigers star Miguel Cabrera as he sat out Wednesday and Thursday with a Grade 1 strain of his left oblique. You can't rush those types of injuries or you are sitting for weeks. Cabrera is hitting only .248 on the season with four home runs and 15 RBIs. And he's just two years into an eight-year, $248M contract. That is going to end very badly for the Tigers organization. No Cabrera would make things a bit easier for Rangers right-hander A.J. Griffin (4-0, 3.15). He wasn't that sharp last time out vs. Oakland but is 4-0 with a 2.32 ERA in his last five starts. Griffin has made four career starts vs. Detroit and is 1-2 with an 8.53 ERA. Cabrera, if he plays, is 5-for-11 off him with two homers. Victor Martinez is 5-for-8 with a dinger, but Griffin catches another break in that Martinez has been placed on the paternity list. The Tigers' Justin Verlander (3-3, 4.47) lost at the Angels on Sunday in giving up four runs over six innings with five walks. He's second in the AL with 25 free passes. In 17 career starts vs. Texas, he is 9-5 with a 2.71 ERA. Rougned Odor is 0-for-11 against him. Elvis Andrus hits .303 in 33 at-bats off Verlander.
Key trends: The Tigers are 2-5 in Verlander's past seven vs. Texas. The under is 13-3-2 in his past 18 at home. The over is 6-1 in Griffin's past seven.
Early lean: Rangers and under (Tigers missing those two big bats).
Diamondbacks at Padres (-106, 8)
San Diego isn't going anywhere this season, and pretty much everyone who isn't a top prospect is available in trade. One interesting guy is 24-year-old right-hander Luis Perdomo, who somehow has avoided a decision in all six starts to go with a 4.19 ERA. He has four straight quality starts, going exactly six innings in each. The guy can hit a little as Monday vs. the Brewers he was 2-for-2 with a double, triple, RBI and run scored. He also struck out a season-high nine. Perdomo hasn't faced Arizona in 2017. Paul Goldschmidt is 5-for-11 career against him with two homers. Snakes lefty Robbie Ray (2-3, 4.57) hasn't won in his past four outings and has allowed nine runs over nine innings in his last two. He was 1-1 with a 4.63 ERA in two starts last year vs. the Friars.
Key trends: The Diamondbacks are 1-4 in Ray's past five vs. San Diego. The under is 20-8-1 in his past 29 on the road. The under is 6-2 in Perdomo's past eight at home.
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