Some fine matchups on Saturday around baseball that I will get to in a minute, but I must address the marquee matchup of the entire weekend and potentially the best pitching showdown we will see all season. The Cubs and Dodgers close out their NLCS rematch on Sunday afternoon (4:10 p.m. ET on MLB Network) from Dodger Stadium, and it's southpaws Jon Lester and Clayton Kershaw squaring off. I'm just going to assume there won't be a rainout in L.A. on Friday or Saturday to push those two back. Lester was the Cy Young runner-up last year and is 3-2 with a 3.19 ERA in 2017. He comes off a complete-game win over the Giants, allowing one run and striking out 10. Kershaw (7-2, 2.01) comes off a complete game against the Cardinals, allowing one run and striking out 10. Notice I didn't say win there? Kershaw was robbed of one when the Cards' Randal Grichuk scored from second on a wild pitch in the ninth inning to tie it. Kershaw did not face Lester in the 2016 NLCS, instead going against Kyle Hendricks in both games. While Kershaw might go down as perhaps the greatest regular-season pitcher ever, Lester has a Hall of Fame resume in the playoffs (where Kershaw has been very mortal). Let's just go ahead and recommend the under on Sunday even though it will surely be 6.
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Tigers at White Sox ( +113, 8.5 )
A 2:10 p.m. ET first pitch. I'm just going to say right now I like the White Sox here because I think the Tigers will be playing on fumes and their bullpen might be destroyed. Detroit played a night game in Houston on Thursday (Tigers lost and used three relievers), had to fly late into Chicago for a twi-night doubleheader Friday and now must play an afternoon game Saturday? That's not fair. At least the White Sox had Thursday off. It's Michael Fulmer (5-2, 2.55) for the Tigers. He took a no-decision at home vs. the Pale Hose on April 29, allowing three runs and four hits over six. Fulmer has thrown nine straight quality starts to open a season, one shy of Justin Verlander's franchise record. White Sox lefty Derek Holland (4-3, 2.47) comes off his longest outing of the year, giving up one run over eight innings in a win in Seattle. He also took a no-decision (6.1 IP, 2 ER) on April 29 in Detroit.
Key trends: The Tigers are 8-1 in Fulmer's past nine vs. teams with a losing record. The Sox are 4-1 in Holland's past five vs. the AL Central. The "over/under" is 6-0-1 in Holland's past seven.
Early lean: White Sox and under (hitters will be gassed too).
Royals at Indians (-176, 8)
Fox Sports 1 national TV game at 4:10 p.m. ET. Monitor the status of Indians outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall, who missed a third straight game Thursday with a possible head injury. He may land on the seven-day concussion DL. Kansas City lefty Jason Vargas (5-3, 2.30) threw six shutout innings at home vs. Cleveland on May 6. However, that was the only game in which he didn't get a decision this year. Jason Kipnis hits .346 off him in 26 at-bats. Cleveland's Danny Salazar (3-4, 5.55) was pushed back a day due to a rainout Thursday. Guy has great stuff, so I'm not sure why he's struggling. Salazar's 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings leadsthe majors, but he also has allowed 11 homers in 47 innings and has 23 walks. So I guess that's why. In 13 career starts against the Royals, Salazar is 7-6 with a 3.63 ERA and 84 strikeouts. He lost in K.C. on May 5, allowing two runs and eight hits in 4.2 innings.
Key trends: The Indians are 4-0 in Salazar's past four at home vs. the Royals. The under is 6-1 in Vargas' past seven on the road. The under is 3-0-1 in Salazar's past four vs. the AL Central.
Early lean: Like under more than side (Royals).
Padres at Nationals (-238, 8)
According to Dusty Baker, the Nationals have solved their closer issue - or at least officially have one now. That would be rookie Koda Glover. He's the third closer already, following Blake Treinen and Shawn Kelley. The Nationals' bullpen has the worst ERA in the majors, and they are still going to trade for a closer. It's Stephen Strasburg (5-1, 3.28) against his hometown Padres here. He struck out a season-high 11 in Atlanta last time out and went a season-high 7.2 innings. Washington has won his past four. San Diego lefty Clayton Richard (3-5, 4.31) comes off maybe the game of his life, a complete-game win over Arizona. He allowed one run and five hits with no walks. It marked the first time a Padres pitcher threw a complete game at Petco Park in more than two years. Eight opposing pitchers hurled a complete game at Petco Park since the last time a Padres pitcher did so prior to Richard.
Key trends: The Nats are 5-0 in Strasburg's past five vs. San Diego. The over is 6-0 in his past six against them.
Early lean: Nationals and under.
Angels at Marlins (TBA)
Halos again lose the DH for this interleague game. They also might be without outfielder Cameron Maybin. He left Thursday's game against the Rays with soreness in his right knee. Maybin is having a solid month of May, batting .267 with two homers and 18 walks. L.A.'s JC Ramirez (4-3, 3.81) won for the first time in four starts on Monday in beating Tampa Bay. He allowed two runs in 6.2 innings. Ramirez threw two scoreless innings of relief during his lone career outing against Miami. The Marlins' Justin Nicolino (0-1, 5.40) has made just two starts this season due to injuries elsewhere in the rotation. His first vs. Atlanta was good, and his last vs. the Dodgers wasn't. Nicolino has never faced the Angels.
Key trends: The Angels are 5-1 in Ramirez's past six. The Marlins are 1-9 in their past 10 at home vs. right-handers. The over is 5-2 in Miami's previous seven on Saturday.
Early lean: The Marlins haven't announced Nicolino, but it's him. Go Angels in what should be a high-scoring game.
Orioles at Astros (TBA)
Early AL Cy Young favorite - along with Chris Sale - Dallas Keuchel of Houston is expected to return from the disabled list on Saturday for the Astros. He had been dealing with a pinched nerve in his neck. Houston also hopes to activate catcher Brian McCann off the concussion DL as long as he's cleared. Keuchel (7-0, 1.84) had his shortest outing of the season on May 16 in Miami, going 5.2 innings and giving up two runs. Mark Trumbo likes facing him as Trumbo is 6-for-15 with two triples and three homers. Baltimore lefty Wade Miley (1-2, 2.59) somehow has just the three decisions in nine starts and has a great ERA despite leading the American League in walks. He took the loss last time out despite not allowing an earned run (three unearned) vs. Toronto. Jose Altuve is 12-for-20 off Miley with four doubles and a homer.
Key trends: The Orioles are 4-1 in Miley's past five on the road. The Astros are 5-2 in their past seven vs. a lefty. The under is 4-1 in Miley's past five on five days of rest.
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