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MLB • Saturday Service Plays • 4/16/16

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    Five to Follow MLB Betting: Saturday, April 16, 2016, Opening Line Report
    by Alan Matthews

    Washington Nationals star and reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper seems to be one of those guys that you either love or hate. But Harper sure is interesting and fabulous player. How cool was his 100th career home run on Thursday? He became the eighth-youngest do to it but of course Harper did it in style: on a grand slam. Harper is the only major-leaguer whose first grand slam came on his 100th career home run. And I’m going to pat myself on the back here. On Thursday’s Opening Line Report I recommended betting a Harper home-run prop because in his career he had killed Atlanta starter Julio Teheran. With the homer, Harper improved to 12-for-27 with five home runs off Teheran. Store that nugget for the next Braves-Nats series.

    Angels at Twins (+108, 8.5)

    A 2:10 p.m. ET matinee. These stories are posted before the games the day I write them are completed, so perhaps the Minnesota Twins will get their first win of the season on Friday. But I feel obligated to write about them just in case they didn’t. The Twins actually got some good news Thursday when prized prospect Byron Buxton was hit on the hand against the White Sox. I say good news because it’s not broken, just bruised. But Buxton is likely to miss a few days. The former No. 1 overall prospect is batting .167 with 13 strikeouts in 24 at-bats so maybe he needs to go back to Triple-A for a while. The Twins start Ricky Nolasco, who had been truly terrible with the team since signing as a free agent before the 2014 season. He was good in his 2016 debut, allowing a run and three hits over seven innings in a no-decision in Kansas City. He didn’t face the Angels in 2015. Albert Pujols destroys him, going 13-for-25 with five doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs. It’s Jered Weaver for the Angels. His debut went well Sunday in beating the Rangers, allowing a run over six innings. He didn’t face the Twins last year.

    Key trends:
    The Angels are 8-2 in Weaver’s past 10 following a quality start in his last appearance. The Twins are 1-11 in their past 12 vs. right-handers. The “over/under” has gone over in 11 of Weaver’s past 15 vs. the AL Central. The over is 6-1 in his past seven in Minnesota.

    Early lean:
    Angels and over.

    Reds at Cardinals (-179, 7)

    A 2:15 p.m. ET matinee. The Reds look like they have a nice rotation piece going forward in young left-hander Brandon Finnegan (0-0, 2.84), who was part of last year’s Johnny Cueto trade with Kansas City. The Chicago Cubs are crushing people in the young season but Finnegan no-hit them for 6.2 innings on Monday, but the bullpen then let both of Finnegan’s inherited runners score after he lost the no-hitter and the Cubs would win. Finnegan struggled against St. Louis last year, going 0-1 with a 7.04 ERA in 7.2 innings (one start, two relief appearances). Matt Carpenter is 2-for-5 with two homers and four RBIs off him. Former Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright (0-1, 6.55) hasn’t looked good thus far. He allowed five runs and walked five over five innings last time out against a very weak Atlanta offense. Wainwright missed most of last season but faced the Reds once, allowing a run in eight innings. Jay Bruce is 11-for-36 off him with two homers.

    Key trends:
    The Cards are 23-4 in Wainwright’s past 27 with five days of rest. The under is 5-2 in the Cards’ past seven vs. a lefty. St. Louis is 1-4 in Wainwright’s past five at home vs. Cincy.

    Early lean:
    Cardinals and under.

    Nationals at Phillies (+170, 7)

    I mentioned earlier this week that Philadelphia could be good soon with a lot of fine young pitching. On Thursday, that was on display as 23-year-old Vincent Velasquez threw a complete-game three-hitter vs. the Padres, striking out 16. In this game, it’s Philly’s top pitching prospect in 22-year-old Aaron Nola (0-1, 3.21). He hasn’t gotten much run support yet and has 17 strikeouts in two starts without a walk. Nola was 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts last year vs. Washington. Harper has a solo homer off him in five at-bats. Jayson Werth is 2-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs. Ace Max Scherzer (1-0, 4.15) goes for Washington. Both his first two starts have come against the Braves. Scherzer was 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in four starts last year against the Phillies. Ryan Howard is 1-for-13 off him with eight strikeouts.

    Key trends:
    The Nats are 4-0 in Scherzer’s past four on the road. The Phillies are 0-5 in Nola’s past five. The under is 3-0-2 in Scherzer’s past five on the road. The under is 4-0 in Nola’s past four.

    Early lean:
    Nats and under.

    Braves at Marlins (-171, 8)

    This game will be shown on Fox Sports 1. As noted above, I feel obligated to write about the Braves in case they are 0-10 entering this one (and I think they will be) like the Twins. And I’m not super-confident about their chances here as Atlanta starts veteran journeyman Bud Norris (0-2, 6.00). Both of his starts have come against Washington. He has allowed 15 hits and four walks in 12 innings. Norris didn’t face Miami in 2015. Just a few Marlins have ever faced him. Dee Gordon is 2-for-6 with a double. Giancarlo Stanton is 1-for-2 with an RBI. Tom Koehler gets the call for Miami. His debut was Sunday in Washington and he allowed two runs and eight hits over six innings. At Marlins Park, he is 15-16 with a 3.63 ERA in his career. Against the Braves, Koehler is 2-4 with a 3.36 ERA all-time. Nick Markakis hits him well, going 6-for-11. So does A.J. Pierzynski, going 7-for-15 with two homers.

    Key trends:
    The Braves are 1-7 in their past eight Saturday games. The Marlins are 5-2 in Koehler’s past seven. The over is 5-2 in his past seven at home.

    Early lean:
    Marlins and over.

    Diamondbacks at Padres (-117, 6.5)

    I think it’s fair to say the early returns on Arizona’s grand offseason experiment have failed miserably. The trade for Shelby Miller (0-1, 8.18) looks more lopsided every day as he has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball thus far. To be fair, he has faced two terrific offenses in the Cubs and Rockies and both were at home. Maybe going to Petco Park helps — and that Padres lineup is a joke. Miller threw seven shutout innings in his lone start vs. San Diego in 2015. Matt Kemp is 2-for-6 off him with a double. Melvin Upton is 0-for-8 with six whiffs. Andrew Cashner (0-1, 8.00) takes the bump for the Friars. Guy throws 98 mph at times but it obviously hasn’t helped much yet. He was 2-3 with a 2.90 ERA in five starts last year vs. the Snakes. Paul Goldschmidt is 7-for-23 off him with a homer and five RBIs.

    Key trends:
    San Diego is 1-4 in Cashner’s past five at home. The over is 7-3-1 in his past 11 there. The Padres are 2-6 in his past eight vs. Arizona.

    Early lean:
    Diamondbacks and under.


    NEWSLETTER MLB Baseball Prediction From Jason Sharpe

    Take #951 Cincinnati (+130) over St. Louis (2 p.m., Saturday, April 16)
    The Cincinnati Reds have been a surprise team to start the 2016 MLB season after last year’s ugly 98-loss year. There’s still a decent nucleus of talent on this team on the offensive side of things, and when you add in the surprising beginning of the season success from a few young kids, that equals a team that isn’t as bad as many thought. The Reds are expected to go with the youngster Brandon Finnegan in this one. I like this hard-throwing 22-year-old left-hander as he’s came out in his first two starts this year and pitched fairly well, allowing just two runs in each of his starts. The key here though is the fact that he faces a St. Louis offense that has been putrid against southpaws, hitting an MLB league low last year of .230 against them. Things don’t look to be much better early on this year as the Cards were easily the worst offense in spring training when going up against lefties and they haven’t shown much early on in the regular season, either. The Cardinals go with veteran Adam Wainwright in this one and Wainwright is a guy I have major concerns with right now. He pitched just a handful of times last season missing most of the year with an injury situation and this season he’s been very shaky in his first two outings as he walked 8 batters in only 11 innings pitched. Excellent underdog price here on a team who has a good shot at winning this match-up.

    Take Cincinnati


    NEWSLETTER MLB Baseball Prediction From Doc’s Sports

    Take ‘Under’ 8.0 Kansas City at Oakland (4 p.m., Saturday, April 16)
    Chris Young of the Royals has made a living by being crafty and fooling hitters with less-than-stellar stuff. He pitches to contact, so his success his often dictated by the environment around him. Lucky for him, he has the best defense in baseball behind him and he pitches in a spacious ballpark that caters to his fly ball tendencies. On Saturday he’ll for the Royals in Oakland, another park that holds fly balls quite well. The A’s don’t feature a particularly threatening lineup, and I think Young can pitch five or six quality innings before turning it over to an elite bullpen. Speaking of bullpens, Oakland has built one of the better ones around by acquiring guys like Ryan Madson, Liam Hendriks and John Axford to go along with closer Sean Dolittle. Chris Bassitt gets the ball for the A’s and he’s looked sharp in his first two starts of 2016, posting a stellar 2.92 ERA in 12.1 innings of work. I don’t see many runs crossing the plate in this one, so we’re recommending the UNDER


    Preview: Mariners at Yankees

    GAME: Seattle Mariners (4-6) at New York Yankees (4-5)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 16 – 1:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

    Felix Hernandez has turned in two of the most impressive starts of any pitcher in the majors, but he remains in search of his first victory on Saturday afternoon as the visiting Seattle Mariners continue their three-game series against the New York Yankees. Seattle kicked off a nine-game road trip with a 7-1 romp to hand the Yankees their third loss in a row.

    Hernandez is winless despite owning a microscopic 0.69 ERA and permitting only four hits over his first two outings. He will be pitching at a venue where he has enjoyed immense success, posting a 5-1 record and 1.38 ERA at the new Yankee Stadium. Opposing Hernandez will be left-hander CC Sabathia, who is bidding to win his first two starts since 2007. New York will be trying to get its offense untracked after scoring only five runs during its three-game skid.

    TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, ROOT (Seattle), YES (New York)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners RH Felix Hernandez (0-1, 0.69 ERA) vs. Yankees LH CC Sabathia (1-0, 4.50)

    Fernandez lost his season opener at Texas despite yielding only one hit and one unearned run over six innings and wasted an overpowering effort in his next turn versus Oakland. Hernandez struck out 10 and gave up only three hits over seven scoreless innings, only to see the bullpen blow the lead in a 2-1 setback. Mark Teixeira is batting .319 with six homers and 13 RBIs versus Hernandez while Brett Gardner is batting .333 in 30 at-bats against him.

    Sabathia withstood frigid conditions in Detroit to win his season debut, allowing three runs on four hits and overcoming four walks over six-plus innings. Sabathia was pitching for the first time since skipping the postseason in 2015 to enter alcohol rehabilitation and is hoping to bounce back from a season in which he won only six times and was 0-5 through his first six starts. He is 12-5 with a 2.61 ERA in 24 career starts against the Mariners.


    1. The Yankees stranded 12 runners and were 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position in the series opener.

    2. Ex-Yankees 2B Robinson Cano went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored in Friday’s victory.

    3. New York CF Jacoby Ellsbury is 0-for-8 following a six-game hitting streak.

    PREVIEW: Mariners 3, Yankees 2


    Preview: Angels at Twins

    GAME: Los Angeles Angels (5-5) at Minnesota Twins (1-9)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 16 – 2:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota

    The Minnesota Twins are having issues scoring runs and face a pitcher against whom they seldom have success on Saturday. Jered Weaver will be on the mound when the Los Angeles Angels visit the Twins for the middle contest of their three-game series as he looks to improve upon his 9-2 record and 3.22 ERA in 16 career starts against Minnesota.

    The Twins established a season best for runs scored when they edged the Angels 5-4 for their first victory of the season. Minnesota lost its first nine games and has totaled the fewest runs (19) in the majors but scored the final three in the series opener as Byung Ho Park delivered the tiebreaking double in the eighth inning. “It really does feel like there’s a weight lifted off our shoulders,” Minnesota’s Trevor Plouffe said afterward. “We know the type of team we can be, and we think this is just the first step in that. We’ll look forward to coming to the park (Saturday) trying to get a series win against a good team, and hopefully, this gets the ball rolling for us.” The Angels had their four-game winning streak halted Friday despite getting home runs from Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun.

    TV: 2:10 p.m. ET, FSN West (Los Angeles), FSN North (Minnesota)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Angels RH Jered Weaver (1-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Twins RH Ricky Nolasco (0-0, 1.29)

    Weaver dealt with injury and velocity issues during spring training but put them behind him when he won his first start of the campaign. The 33-year-old allowed just one run and six hits in six innings while defeating Texas on Sunday. Minnesota’s Kurt Suzuki is batting .288 with a homer against Weaver, but most of that damage was done while with Oakland.

    Nolasco performed well in his first start of season despite receiving a no-decision against Kansas City on Sunday. He allowed one run and three hits over seven innings and showed he might be ready to rebound after having a combined ERA of 5.64 over his first two seasons with Minnesota. Nolasco is 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA in two career starts versus the Angels and has been torched regularly by Pujols, who is 13-for-25 with three homers and 11 RBIs against him.


    1. Calhoun is riding an eight-game hitting streak and is 7-for-12 over the last three.

    2. Minnesota 1B Joe Mauer is 9-for-22 during his six-game hitting streak.

    3. Los Angeles 1B C.J. Cron was hitless in three at-bats Friday and is 3-for-32 on the season.

    PREDICTION: Angels 5, Twins 2


    Preview: Reds at Cardinals

    GAME: Cincinnati Reds (5-5) at St. Louis Cardinals (6-4)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 16 – 2:15 PM EST
    WHERE: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri

    Ace Adam Wainwright is off to a slow start for the St. Louis Cardinals, but it may not matter considering how his teammates are beating up opposing pitching staffs. Wainwright makes his third attempt to notch his first victory of the young season for the rampaging Cardinals, who host the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday afternoon in the middle contest of their three-game series.

    St. Louis continued its offensive barrage by clubbing six home runs – two by Matt Holliday – in Friday’s 14-3 demolition of the skidding Reds. The Cardinals have piled up 66 runs during a 6-1 tear and have scored in double digits four times over their last six games. Cincinnati is careening in the opposite direction, losing four in a row following a 5-1 start. Joey Votto’s three-run homer on Friday accounted for the only offense for the Reds, who have scored nine runs during their slide.

    TV: 2:15 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Cincinnati), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds LH Brandon Finnegan (0-0, 2.84 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Adam Wainwright (0-1, 6.55)

    Finnegan has deserved a better fate after giving up a two-run homer among three hits in his season debut versus Philadelphia and carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Chicago Cubs. He gave up only one hit to the Cubs but struggled with his control, walking five batters en route to a second straight no-decision. Finnegan was rocked in his lone career start versus St. Louis last September, giving up three homers and six runs in five frames.

    Wainwright typically displays outstanding control, but that hardly has been the case in his first two outings of the season. The 34-year-old Georgia native escaped with a no-decision versus Philadelphia last time out despite giving up five runs on six hits and five walks over five innings. Wainwright in only 8-9 with a 4.18 ERA in his career against Cincinnati, but he dominated the Reds in 2014 by tossing 15 scoreless innings en route to a pair of victories.


    1. St. Louis, which set a Busch Stadium III record with its six homers Friday, already has five pinch-hit blasts on the season.

    2. Reds SS Zack Cozart recorded a pair of hits in his return to the lineup after missing two games.

    3. Cardinals rookie SS Aledmys Diaz is 11-for-27, with eight of the hits going for extra bases.

    PREDICTION: Cardinals 6, Reds 3


    Preview: Rockies at Cubs

    GAME: Colorado Rockies (6-4) at Chicago Cubs (8-2)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 16 – 2:20 PM EST
    WHERE: Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

    The Colorado Rockies shut down Chicago’s high-powered offense in the series opener, and they’ll probably need a similar pitching performance Saturday afternoon to take down the Cubs again. Reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta takes the mound to try to help Chicago avoid consecutive losses for the first time this season.

    The Cubs entered the series leading the majors in runs per contest but managed only four hits in a 6-1 loss in the opener of a three-game set. They also were uncharacteristically sloppy in the field, making four errors after committing an MLB-low two in their first nine games. The Rockies have won three straight and racked up double-digit hits in all three. They’ll be hard-pressed to continue that against Arrieta, who has won 13 straight decisions overall and is 18-7 with a 2.01 ERA in 33 home starts since joining the Cubs.

    TV: 2:20 p.m. ET, ROOT (Colorado), CSN Chicago

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Rockies RH Christian Bergman (0-1, 12.00 ERA) vs. Cubs RH Jake Arrieta (2-0, 1.93)

    Bergman worked almost exclusively out of the bullpen last season, making only four starts, and is getting his first after two relief outings this year. He was tagged for four runs and as many hits in an inning of work at Arizona before rebounding with two scoreless frames against San Diego on April 8. Bergman has faced the Cubs only once, tossing a scoreless inning of relief last season.

    Arrieta didn’t have his best stuff last time out but still managed his 22nd consecutive quality start in the regular season. The 30-year-old allowed three runs on eight hits – including a pair of homers – over seven innings to beat the Diamondbacks, notching six strikeouts for the second straight start. Arrieta has had trouble in two previous starts against Colorado, going 1-1 with a 7.50 ERA.


    1. Colorado RF Carlos Gonzalez has hit safely in 20 straight games dating to last season and has eight homers in 18 career contests at Wrigley Field.

    2. The Cubs activated Javier Baez (thumb) from the 15-day disabled list Friday and optioned fellow INF Munenori Kawasaki to Triple-A Iowa.

    3. Chicago is 8-0 when scoring four or more runs and 0-2 when putting up three or fewer.

    PREDICTION: Cubs 6, Rockies 1


    Preview: Royals at Athletics

    GAME: Kansas City Royals (8-2) at Oakland Athletics (4-7)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 16 – 4:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California

    The Kansas City Royals attempt to extend their winning streak to five games when they visit the Oakland Athletics on Saturday afternoon for the middle contest of their three-game series. Kansas City posted a 4-2 triumph in Friday’s opener, improving to 4-1 on its seven-game road trip that began with a loss in Houston.

    The Royals recorded 12 hits in the victory, including three by Kendrys Morales, but struck out 13 times. Oakland is a dismal 1-7 at home, where it has scored fewer than three runs in five of its last six games. It is the Athletics’ worst start in their own building since 2001, when they lost nine of their first 10 contests. Marcus Semien has had success thus far at Oakland Coliseum, however, going 8-for-21 (.381), while Stephen Vogt recorded half of the team’s six hits Friday — including his first home run of the season.

    TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, CSN California (Oakland)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Chris Young (0-2, 7.45 ERA) vs. Athletics RH Sonny Gray (1-1, 2.70)

    Young remains in search of his first win of the season after getting battered for six runs and nine hits over 4 2/3 innings at Houston on Monday. The 36-year-old native of Dallas hasn’t pitched with a lead this season as Kansas City has yet to score while he’s been on the mound. Young has appeared in 11 games — 10 starts — against Oakland in his career, going 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA.

    Gray looks to bounce back from a loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Monday in which he allowed three runs and six hits over 6 1/3 innings. The 26-year-old from Nashville will be making his third start at home, where he posted a 2.82 ERA and 0.99 WHIP while going 6-4 in 15 turns last season. Gray has yet to defeat Kansas City, going 0-2 with a 3.15 ERA in three career starts.


    1. Athletics RHP Chris Bassitt will start Sunday, moving back a day to allow Gray to pitch on his normal four days’ rest.

    2. Kansas City LF Alex Gordon struck out twice Friday and has fanned a team-leading 16 times this season.

    3. Oakland RHP Henderson Alvarez (shoulder) threw a two-inning simulated game Friday and is expected to join the starting rotation next month.

    PREDICTION: Athletics 5, Royals 2


    Preview: Blue Jays at Red Sox

    GAME: Toronto Blue Jays (5-6) at Boston Red Sox (5-4)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 16 – 4:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts

    The Boston Red Sox are hoping that a change at one position can have an impact on several others, and the decision seemed to work for at least one night. The Red Sox and new catcher Christian Vazquez will try to push their winning streak to three in a row when they host the Toronto Blue Jays in the second of a four-game series on Saturday.

    The pitching staff struggled in the first eight games, prompting Boston to activate Vazquez (elbow) from the disabled list and send fellow young catcher Blake Swihart to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he will begin taking balls in the outfield in addition to catching. Vazquez went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and showed off his arm with a pickoff at first while guiding Rick Porcello and three relievers to two hits allowed in the 5-3 victory on Friday. The Blue Jays, who dropped two of three to Boston at home last weekend, made the most of their two hits with a pair of home runs from Edwin Encarnacion but could not avoid a third straight road loss. Toronto will try to get the bats going on Saturday against former teammate David Price, who opposes Marco Estrada.

    TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, Sportsnet (Toronto), NESN (Boston)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays RH Marco Estrada (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH David Price (1-0, 5.73)

    Estrada started the season on the disabled list due to a sore back that cropped up at the end of spring training but was activated in time to face Boston at home last weekend. The Long Beach State product dominated over seven scoreless innings, scattering five hits while striking out eight to earn the win. Estrada made two appearances at Fenway Park last season, tossing three hitless innings of relief on Apr. 28 and allowing five runs and seven hits in five innings on June 14.

    Price beat Cleveland on opening day but struggled in the home opener on Monday, surrendering five runs and five hits in as many innings without factoring in the decision against Baltimore. The former Cy Young Award winner helped Toronto to the playoffs after being acquired at last season’s trade deadline by going 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts. Price is 16-2 with a 2.41 ERA in 21 career starts against the Blue Jays.


    1. Red Sox 3B Pablo Sandoval (shoulder) will meet with Dr. James Andrews next week.

    2. Toronto 3B Josh Donaldson had his 10-game hitting streak to begin the season come to an end with a 0-for-4 effort on Friday.

    3. Boston RHP Koji Uehara has allowed no runs and one hit in six appearances totaling six innings.

    PREDICTION: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1


    Preview: Mets at Indians

    GAME: New York Mets (4-5) at Cleveland Indians (4-4)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 16 – 4:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio

    The New York Mets look to build off a rare offensive outburst this season when they visit the Cleveland Indians for the middle contest of a three-game set on Saturday. The Mets came into Friday’s series opener batting a league-worst .194 and standing 29th in the majors in runs scored before blasting four homers among 14 hits and holding on for a 6-5 victory.

    Slugger Yoenis Cespedes led the hit brigade for New York with a single, a double and a homer to extend his hitting streak against the Indians to nine games. Scheduled starter Matt Harvey will try to gain his first victory of the season and get the Mets back to .500 when he faces a Cleveland squad which also posted 14 hits on Friday. The Indians, who have split eight games to start the campaign, left 13 on base in the series opener – including two when Jeurys Familia retired the final batter. Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis had three hits Friday and is 9-for-25 since going 0-for-4 in the first game of the season.

    TV: 4:10 p.m. ET, WPIX (New York), SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Mets RH Matt Harvey (0-2, 4.63 ERA) vs. Indians RH Josh Tomlin (2015: 7-2, 3.02)

    Harvey has lost three straight regular-season starts dating back to last season, and has been ordinary in his first two turns of 2016. The 27-year-old Connecticut native allowed three runs and six hits in six innings last time out against Philadelphia and owns just five strikeouts in 11 2/3 frames overall. Juan Uribe, who spent half of last season with the Mets, is 2-for-6 in his career against Harvey.

    Tomlin makes his first appearance of the season as the team’s fifth starter after a solid 2015 campaign which included a 4-1 record and 2.65 ERA at home. The 31-year-old control pitcher struck out 57 in 65 2/3 innings last season with just eight walks and limited left-handed batters to a .156 average. Alejandro De Aza is 3-for-11 with a homer against Tomlin, who has never faced the Mets.


    1. De Aza registered his first three hits for his new team, including a homer on Friday.

    2. Cleveland 1B-DH Carlos Santana boasts eight RBIs in the first eight contests of the season after hitting a two-run blast in the series opener.

    3. Mets RHP Jacob deGrom (lat muscle) is expected to throw again this weekend and if everything goes well he could make his next start Tuesday at Philadelphia.

    PREDICTION: Mets 4, Indians 2


    Preview: White Sox at Rays

    GAME: Chicago White Sox (8-2) at Tampa Bay Rays (3-7)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 16 – 6:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida

    The Chicago White Sox look to continue their best start in more than three decades when they visit the struggling Tampa Bay Rays for the second of a three-game set on Saturday. Chris Sale spun a two-hitter Friday for a 1-0 victory as Chicago improved to 8-2 overall – matching the best 10-game start since 1982 – and 7-1 away from home.

    The White Sox lead the majors in ERA (2.02), opponent’s batting average (.188) and WHIP (0.93) after Sale’s gem as they prepare to send left-hander John Danks to the mound. Danks had a rough time in his only start of the season but will face the offensively challenged Rays, who are last in the league with a .196 team batting average after getting shut out for the second straight game. Tampa Bay could also be without two of its key players as sparkplug center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (head contusion) and Logan Forsythe (hip, leg) both left Friday’s game after colliding going after a fly ball. Erasmo Ramirez gets the call for the Rays, whose starters are 0-6 with a 3.92 ERA in the first 10 games.

    TV: 6:10 p.m. ET, WGN (Chicago), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: White Sox LH John Danks (0-1, 9.00 ERA) vs. Rays RH Erasmo Ramirez (1-0, 3.00)

    Danks struggled in his season debut on April 8 against Cleveland when he surrendered seven runs (five earned) and eight hits over five innings with six strikeouts. The 31-year-old Texan went 7-15 with a 4.71 ERA in 30 starts last season and had a tough time on the road (3-10, 5.61). Desmond Jennings has a double and a triple in six at-bats versus Danks, who is 6-6 with a 4.20 ERA in 13 career starts against the Rays.

    Ramirez gets his first start of the season after three two-inning relief appearances where he gave up two runs and five hits combined with six strikeouts and no walks. The 25-year-old Nicaraguan went 11-6 with a 3.75 ERA in 2015, making 34 appearances (27 starts). Brett Lawrie is 4-for-7 with two doubles against Ramirez, who permitted five runs in six innings of a no-decision last season against the White Sox.


    1. Tampa Bay OF-DH Corey Dickerson leads the team with 19 total bases, including three solo homers.

    2. Chicago OF Melky Cabrera has recorded two hits in each of his last five games and six of seven.

    3. Tampa Bay 1B-DH Steve Pearce got the start Friday in the infield and extended his hitting streak to four contests.

    PREDICTION: Rays 5, White Sox 3


    Preview: Brewers at Pirates

    GAME: Milwaukee Brewers (5-5) at Pittsburgh Pirates (5-6)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 16 – 7:05 PM EST
    WHERE: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Left fielder Ryan Braun looks to build off his best performance of the season when his Milwaukee Brewers visit the Pittsburgh Pirates in Saturday’s second contest of a three-game set. Braun smacked two long homers as part of a three-hit outing in Friday’s series opener to lead Milwaukee to an 8-4 victory.

    Braun went five games without an RBI before breaking loose against the Pirates with four while recording his 23rd career multi-homer game with blasts of 460 and 415 feet. “I was just out there competing trying to get good pitches to hit,” Braun told reporters after the contest. “I felt pretty good the last few games. The results haven’t been there but I just continued to believe in the process. I got a couple pitches to hit and I didn’t miss them.” Shortstop Jonathan Villar also had three hits in his return from an ankle injury that sidelined him two games. Struggling Pittsburgh has lost four straight games and six of the past seven.

    TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee), ROOT (Pittsburgh)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Brewers RH Taylor Jungmann (0-1, 11.57 ERA) vs. Pirates LH Jonathon Niese (1-0, 5.73)

    Jungman was torched by the St. Louis Cardinals in his last outing on Monday as he gave up eight runs and eight hits in two innings. He gave up seven extra-base hits (five doubles, two triples) in the short outing that lasted 60 pitches. Jungman went 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in four outings against the Pirates last season and shut down catcher Francisco Cervelli (0-for-8) and left fielder Starling Marte (1-for-9).

    Niese defeated the Detroit Tigers in his last turn when he gave up four runs (three earned) and five hits in six innings on Monday. He walked just one in each of his two outings with Pittsburgh, which acquired him from the New York Mets in the offseason. Niese is 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in eight career starts against the Brewers and hasn’t allowed Braun to homer off him despite the slugger being 5-for-16 in their meetings.


    1. Marte had three hits in the series opener and is 11-for-27 over the past six games.

    2. Milwaukee 1B Chris Carter reached base four times Friday on two hits and two walks and has an extra-base hit in each of his last four games.

    3. Pittsburgh has allowed 30 runs during its four-game skid.

    PREDICTION: Brewers 5, Pirates 3


    Preview: Nationals at Phillies

    GAME: Washington Nationals (8-1) at Philadelphia Phillies (5-6)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 16 – 7:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    The Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies each entered their weekend series trending in the right direction, but Friday’s series opener was decisively one-sided. The visiting Nationals aim for another strong outing Saturday as they take the field behind Max Scherzer.

    Scherzer is looking to rebound from a mediocre outing, although his teammates were anything but mediocre in Friday’s contest. The Nationals cruised to a 9-1 triumph as Jayson Werth doubled twice and drove in three runs against his former team. Joe Ross allowed only three hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings to help Washington extend its winning streak to six games. Philadelphia, which had won five of its previous six games, will turn to promising youngster Aaron Nola on Saturday.

    TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, MASN (Washington), TCN (Philadelphia)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Max Scherzer (1-0, 4.15 ERA) vs. Phillies RH Aaron Nola (0-1, 3.21)

    Scherzer gave up four runs in six innings his last time out but still earned the victory against Atlanta – his opponent in each of his first two starts. He has worked at least six innings in 11 consecutive outings, dating back to last year. He went 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in four starts against the Phillies last season and is 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA lifetime against Philadelphia.

    Nola has logged seven innings in each of his first two outings, posting 17 strikeouts without a walk in a sizzling start to 2016. He made 13 starts as a rookie last season, registering a 3.59 ERA despite uneven success against Washington. The Nationals batted .349 against the former first-round pick, who had one bad start against Washington (six runs in five innings) but recovered 12 days later to blank Washington over five frames.


    1. Werth and Bryce Harper are a combined 5-for-10 with two homers against Nola.

    2. Philadelphia 1B Ryan Howard is 1-for-13 with eight strikeouts versus Scherzer.

    3. The Nationals have allowed a total of 10 runs during their six-game winning streak.

    PREDICTION: Nationals 4, Phillies 0


    Preview: Braves at Marlins

    GAME: Atlanta Braves (1-9) at Miami Marlins (3-5)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 16 – 7:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Marlins Park, Miami, Florida

    Miami left fielder Christian Yelich hit .178 through his first 24 games last season, but entering Saturday’s middle contest of a three-game home set with Atlanta, he is off to a sizzling start. Yelich, who batted .329 in his final 102 contests last season to finish at .300, is hitting .429 with an eight-game hitting streak after collecting three hits in Friday’s 6-3 loss to the previously winless Braves.

    Atlanta avoided tying the 1988 Braves for worst start in franchise history, rallying with four runs in the eighth inning for its first victory of the season. Adonis Garcia, one of few Braves who have started the season strong, put Atlanta ahead with a two-run single and is hitting .324 after going 2-for-4. Miami second baseman Dee Gordon, last year’s National League batting champion, finished 2-for-5 Friday and is hitting .325 through eight games. Friday’s loss snapped a seven-game Marlins winning streak against the Braves.

    TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves RH Bud Norris (0-2, 6.00 ERA) vs. Marlins RH Tom Koehler (0-1, 2.84)

    Norris gave the Braves an outstanding effort in his Atlanta debut, but more closely resembled the hurler who went 3-11 last season in Monday’s loss at Washington. He gave up five runs on nine hits in five innings, five days after holding the Nationals to three runs on six hits in seven innings in his first Braves appearance. The 31-year-old has not faced the Marlins since 2012 and is 1-1 with a 6.18 ERA in five career starts against Miami.

    While there is plenty of attention on ace Jose Fernandez when the conversation turns to Miami’s pitching, Koehler has won double-digit games with a sub 4.10 ERA each of the past two years. The 29-year-old opened his season Sunday with a loss at Washington, allowing two runs on eight hits with four walks and six strikeouts. Koehler went 2-2 with a 3.67 ERA in five games (four starts) against the Braves last season and has made 14 career appearances against them with a 3.36 ERA and a 2-4 record.


    1. Atlanta 1B Freddie Freeman snapped a 1-for-26 skid with a seventh-inning single Friday.

    2. The Marlins and Braves are two of three National League teams (Arizona) without a victory from their starting rotation.

    3. Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino threw a career-high 35 pitches in recording a four-out save Friday.

    PREDICTION: Braves 4, Marlins 3


    Preview: Tigers at Astros

    GAME: Detroit Tigers (6-3) at Houston Astros (4-7)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 16 – 7:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas

    The Houston Astros have seen a lack of offense create plenty of issues in the early portion of the season. Although they scored the lone run in the opener, the Astros look to get their offense untracked when they vie for a series victory against the visiting Detroit Tigers on Saturday.

    Houston had mustered just six runs during its three-game losing streak before Colby Rasmus’ RBI single in the first inning Friday accounted for all of the damage in a 1-0 win. Rasmus recorded his fourth multi-hit performance in his last seven contests but traditionally has struggled versus Saturday starter Justin Verlander, going 2-for-11 with three strikeouts. Detroit had little issue scoring runs as it erupted for 22 during its three-game winning streak before being limited to just five hits on Friday. Former Astro J.D. Martinez is 14-for-34 in nine games this season and 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs in a small sample size against Saturday starter Collin McHugh.

    TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, ROOT (Houston)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Justin Verlander (0-1, 8.71 ERA) vs. Astros RH Collin McHugh (1-1, 6.14)

    After recording a quality start in his season debut, Verlander was blitzed for seven runs and 10 hits – including five doubles – in just 4 1/3 innings of a 7-4 setback against Pittsburgh on Monday. The 2011 American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner looks to bounce back versus Houston, against which he scattered three hits over seven scoreless frames in his last encounter. Verlander owns a 2-0 record with a 1.62 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in five career starts against the Astros.

    McHugh rebounded from a brutal season debut in which he lasted just one-third of an inning to allow eight hits over seven scoreless frames in an 8-2 win over Kansas City on Monday. The 28-year-old pitched well in both career outings versus Detroit but dropped his lone decision despite yielding just four runs in 14 total innings. Nick Castellanos is 10-for-25 in his last seven games overall but just 1-for-6 lifetime against McHugh.


    1. Detroit DH Victor Martinez went 0-for-4 in the series opener and is three RBIs shy of becoming the fifth Venezuelan-born player to reach 1,000 for his career.

    2. Houston RHP Lance McCullers is dealing with lingering shoulder discomfort and was scratched from Saturday’s outing with Double-A Corpus Christi.

    3. Tigers 2B Ian Kinsler has hit safely in four straight games and eight of nine this season.

    PREDICTION: Tigers 6, Astros 3

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