First off, shame on you if you bet on the Giants to win the NL West or any such futures. You should know by now that the Giants go to the playoffs in even-numbered years this decade but miss out when it's an odd-numbered one. And while it's only late April, I would go ahead and stick a fork in San Francisco for this season. That's because not only is the team 6-13 as of Monday but it also lost its most important player, ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner, for two months or more after he injured his ribs and pitching shoulder in a dirt-bike accident. Are MLB players contractually allowed to go dirtbiking? Nope, but the team isn't going to withhold Bumgarner's salary because of how important he is to that franchise - plus he's vastly underpaid as it is. It's obviously the shoulder injury that's a concern as Bumgarner has a sprained AC joint. It's still not crystal clear how long he will be out, but two months seems to be the consensus minimum. It's an utterly devastating loss. Since he was called up to the majors for good in late June 2010, no pitcher has made more starts, pitched more innings or recorded more outs than Bumgarner. He has logged six straight seasons with at least 30 starts and 200 innings pitched, the second-longest active streak behind Cole Hamels. Bumgarner had yet to win in four starts this season, but that's only because the Giants have been inept offensively in his outings.
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Astros at Indians ( +108, 8 )
I could easily see this being a playoff preview. Houston probably will run away with the AL West barring injury and the Tribe likely do the same in the AL Central. It's lefty Dallas Keuchel (3-0, 0.96) for the Astros, and he looks back to 2015 Cy Young form. He has gone exactly seven innings in all four starts and allowed a total of three runs. Keuchel didn't face the Indians last year. Jason Kipnis is 5-for-15 off him with two RBIs. Carlos Santana has a homer in 12 at-bats. Cleveland's Josh Tomlin (1-2, 11.68) comes off his first quality start of the season, allowing three runs in six innings of a win at Minnesota. In 2016, the Texas native and Texas Tech alum pitched one scoreless inning vs. Houston. Brian McCann is 1-for-8 off him with three RBIs. Carlos Beltran is 1-for-11 with an RBI.
Key trends: The Astros are 10-1 in their past 11 vs. a right-handed starter. The Tribe are 1-5 in their past six vs. a lefty. The "over/under" has gone under in five straight Tomlin starts on six days of rest.
Early lean: Astros and under.
Cubs at Pirates (+114, 7.5)
It is time for the Cubs to worry about right-hander Kyle Hendricks (1-1, 6.19). No one really though he was the maestro he appeared to be in 2016 when he led the National League in ERA and was third in the Cy Young voting - but still pretty good. Hendricks has yet to have a quality start this season, and for the first time in his career allowed two homers and walked four in an outing last time out vs. the Brewers, although his offense bailed him out. Hendricks lost at home to the Pirates on April 14, allowing three earned over five. That has been his best start. Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole (1-2, 4.70) has strung together three straight quality starts, all going six innings. He was opposite Hendricks on April 14 and allowed two runs in six to get the win. Red-hot Anthony Rizzo is 9-for-26 off him with four doubles. Kris Bryant is 4-for-16 with six strikeouts.
Key trends: The Cubs are 5-1 in Hendricks' past six vs. Pittsburgh. The Pirates are 10-3 in Cole's past 13 vs. the Cubs. The over is 6-2 in Hendricks' past eight vs. Pittsburgh.
Early lean: Pirates and over.
Twins at Rangers (-132, 9)
One name that has been mentioned as a possible Giants trade target to replace Bumgarner if he's out even longer is Minnesota's Ervin Santana, although the Giants claim they are financially tapped out after signing closer Mark Melancon this past offseason. Santana (3-0, 0.64) is in the early AL Cy Young conversation. He has allowed just two earned runs in his four starts and a scant nine hits over 28 innings. Santana allowed two runs in 6.1 innings in his lone 2016 start vs. the Rangers. Mike Napoli is 10-for-25 against him with three homers and 10 RBIs. Texas' Andrew Cashner (0-1, 2.38) has gotten the worst run support possible: zero runs scored in his two starts while in the game. Rather oddly, left-handers aren't hitting him (.095) but righties are (.333).This is Cashner's first year in the AL, so only a few Twins have seen him. Jason Castro is 0-for-3 with two walks.
Key trends: The Twins are 1-5 in Santana's past six on the road. The under is 4-1 in his past five vs. the AL West.
Early lean: Rangers and under.
Blue Jays at Cardinals (-138, 8)
Toronto loses the DH for this interleague battle of the birds. That's normally Kendrys Morales, although the team could play him at first. He's not very good there. Morales is hitting .254 with three homers and 10 RBIs. The Jays go with Marco Estrada (0-1, 2.63) on the mound. He has shut out his past two opponents, Baltimore and Boston, on seven hits over 13 innings. His ERA had been 5.73 prior to that. Yadier Molina has seen him more than any Cardinal, going 13-for-24 with two doubles and a homer. Matt Carpenter is 5-for-19 with three RBIs. St. Louis' Michael Wacha (2-1, 2.41) beat the Pirates in his last start, allowing one run and four hits over a season-high 6.2 innings. Just a few Blue Jays have seen him. Morales is 3-for-7 with two walks, so maybe he will be in there. Troy Tulowitzki is 2-for-6 with a homer.
Key trends: The Jays are 0-6 in Estrada's past six vs. teams with a losing record. The Cards are 13-3 in Wacha's past 16 at home vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 5-1 in Estrada's past six.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
Dodgers at Giants (+212, 6.5)
Monitor the status of Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson as he left Sunday's game with a tight groin. Kike Hernandez replaced him in center field and would see additional playing time if Pederson is out a bit. Pederson is batting .220 with a homer. This was to be Bumgarner's turn in the rotation and a great matchup against fellow lefty Clayton Kershaw. Instead it's another southpaw for San Francisco, Ty Blach (0-0, 4.76). He has pitched only in relief this year. Last Oct. 1, he outdueled Kershaw by allowing three hits in eight innings and having two hits himself in San Francisco's 3-0 win. Kershaw (3-1, 2.54) beat the Rockies in his last start, going seven innings and allowing two runs with a season-best 10 strikeouts. He's 18-8 lifetime against the Giants, 10-4 at AT&T Park. I'll be shocked if Brandon Belt is in the lineup for the Giants as he's a horrific 3-for-51 career off him with 27 strikeouts. That's almost humorous.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 11-5 in Kershaw's past 16 in San Francisco. The under is 14-2-1 in his past 17 at the Giants.
Early lean: Giants on runline and under.
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