MLB 2017 Season Preview
National League Central
FanPicks examines the National League Central division for the upcoming Major League Baseball season. Get ready for fantasy baseball.
Last season, the Cubs had one of the best defenses in baseball history, blending dominance of the strike zone with excellent fielding across the diamond. They’ll allow more runs in 2017, but with a healthy season from Kyle Schwarber and continued development from other young hitters, they might also score more. Few teams are bulletproof, and fewer still immune to the vagaries of baseball’s long season and the thin margins that decide most games. Still, there’s no reason to predict anything other than a second straight NL Central title for this group.
The Reds would be happy to get back over .500. That’s going to depend largely on the bullpen, which was so bad early last year that the team was out of it by May. The hope is righthanders Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen. They are converted starters with top-shelf stuff and they can fix the pen. The club goes to spring training with no defined closer, although Iglesias saved six games in eight tries down the stretch. The rotation has some depth if the young pitchers step up. The Reds have added quantity. They’ve traded for nine starters since the deadline in 2014. They need some quality to compete this year. The offense was eighth in the National League in runs last year, so with better pitching, the record should improve. Still, there are far too many ifs to expect the Reds to contend.
With the Central Division-rival Cubs expected to run roughshod for the foreseeable future, the Brewers’ plan to rebuild from the ground up comes at a good time. As a small-market team, their best chance for sustained success is stockpiling as many young high-ceiling players as possible, letting them develop and then rolling them out in the major leagues. It’s an approach that takes remarkable patience, but one that can bear real fruit if done correctly.
The Pirates seemingly have little chance of overtaking the Cubs in the NL Central this season, though they plan to give it a shot. However, if they fall too far behind in the standings, they are likely to shift into rebuilding mode and sort out which young players — especially starting pitchers — fit into their long-term plans and try to add more prospects by trading outfielder Andrew McCutchen.
St. Louis Cardinals
After a decade as a regular resident and sometimes king of October, the Cardinals are no longer the organization within their division that others aspire to be. This team still has stars like third baseman Matt Carpenter and is banking on a style better suited for their ballpark to prove that 2016 was a brief eclipse. Overcoming top prospect Alex Reyes season-ending injury will be tough, but the Cardinals are still intent on showing the rest of the league, especially a certain team in the Windy City, that the sun hasn’t set on their empire.
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Pirates vs Phillies
The Pirates will need to provide a little more offense to help their rookie pitcher Steven Brault against the Phillies. The youngster got only five runs from his teammates in his first five big league starts. He drew solid outings in his past three games and looks to continue his stretch on the road. Along with Jameson Taillon and Chad Kuhl, Brault is the third rookie currently in Pittsburgh rotations.
Orioles vs Red Sox
The two best hitting teams will put their best pitchers on the mound in this one. Baltimore will go with Kevin Gausman, who’s received at least five run support in three of his last five start. American League Cy Young contender Rick Porcello will be Boston’s weapon of choice for the matchup. He’s been even more rewarded than his counterpart, getting at least 10 runs support in four of his last five outing.
Marlins vs Braves
Things are not looking good for the Brave today. They will need to contend with one of the hottest pitcher in MLB right now, Jose Fernandez. His most recent performance was phenomenal, as he struck out 14 against the National League West leading Los Angeles Dodgers. it was his third 14 strikeout performance this season. Fernandez has a 3.65 ERA in four career starts at Turner Field. He gave up a career-high 9 runs in his last start at the Ted.
Brewers vs Reds
A sweep of the Brewers could be on the horizon for the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Despite top basestealer Billy Hamilton missing from that matchup for the Reds, second best speedster, Milwaukee’s Jonathan Villar, will be there. Villar has 54 steals this season and is 4 behind Hamilton. The Brewers shortstop is also shredding it with power this season. He posted his 16th home run on Tuesday.
Twins vs Tigers
The Tigers have the opportunity to gain ground in the American League Central and Wild Card Standing, as they continue their series versus the worst team in baseball, the Minnesota Twins. Detroit failed to win against them on Tuesday. It will now be on Anibal Sanchez to bring them to a victory. The hurler is in need of a good outing if he want to stay in the rotation when Jordan Zimmerman comes back from injury.
Athletics vs Royals
This will be the first time that A’s left-hander Sean Manaea will start against the organization that drafted him back in 2013. The Royals, on the other hand, will try to focus and get back into the post-season race. The fell the first two game of the series against Oakland and can’t afford to lose a third. They are trailing the Baltimore Orioles by five games in the American League Wild Card race.
August 17 MLB Preview
Wednesday Evening Matchups
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Red Sox vs Orioles
Red Sox ace David Price face off against heralded O’s rookie Dylan Bundy. Outfielder Mookie Betts has been a real thorn for Baltimore’s pitching, as he has hit seven homers in five games at Camden Yards this season.
Dodgers vs Phillies
Jake Thompson’s progression from Phillies prospect to Major League starter continues. He will have to watch out for Los Angeles Howie Kendrick though. The veteran outfielder is 14-for-25 with two homers, eight RBIs and six runs scored during his six-game hitting streak.
White Sox vs Indians
Indians first baseman Mike Napoli extended his hitting streak to 16 games Tuesday, the longest active streak in the Majors.
Marlins vs Reds
In his third start back from Tommy John surgery, Reds pitcher Homer Bailey looked like his pre-surgery self with 11 strikeouts over six scoreless innings. He needed 31 pitches to get out of a jam in the fifth but had enough in the tank to fan the side in the sixth. On Wednesday, Reds fans will get reacquainted with Homer Bailey, and he with the mound at Great American Ball Park. It will be the Cincinnati right-hander’s first time pitching at home since August 7th 2014.
Twins vs Braves
The wait is over for Braves fans, as top prospect Dansby Swanson is set to make his Major League debut at shortstop Wednesday against the Twins. The move is in line with Erick Aybar Tuesday trade to the Tigers.
Brewers vs Cubs
For all the deserved hype surrounding their star-studded lineup, the Chicago Cubs have leaned on their starting pitching during a red-hot start to the second half. After two more strong pitching performances powered the Cubs to a doubleheader sweep of the visiting Milwaukee Brewers, left-hander Jon Lester looks to help Chicago make it three straight.
Athletics vs Rangers
Yu Darvish and rookie left-hander Sean Manaea will go at it again for the series finale between the Rangers and A’s. The two matched up in Arlington on July 27, a game in which Manaea had a career-high nine strikeouts.
Mets vs Diamondbacks
Jonathon Niese has been waiting for the opportunity to prove he deserves a spot in the Mets’ starting rotation. Niese, who was acquired from the Pirates for right-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo at the non-waiver Trade Deadline on Aug. 1, will make his first start since the trade in the spot previously occupied by recently optioned Logan Verrett. The D-backs counter with Zack Godley.
Mariners vs Angels
Seattle’s Cody Martin steps up into the rotation as fill-in for the injured James Paxton. It will be Martin’s first satrt with the Mariners. He’ll face the Angels and Tyler Skaggs, who allowed seven runs in his last start.
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Wednesday Evening Matchups
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Padres vs Pirates
Out of the starting lineup for three games due to a sore shoulder, Gregory Polanco provide a jolt in his return for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Polanco’s three-run homer was the decisive blow in Tuesday’s 6-4 triumph for Pittsburgh against San Diego. Penciled in at the cleanup spot for the first time in his career, Polanco continued his breakout campaign with his 16th homer to keep the Pirates 2 1/2 games behind Miami for the second wild card in the National League. Andrew McCutchen showed signs of breaking out of his funk by reaching base four times, including a season-high three via the walk.
Padres rookie Jabari Blash went 2-for-4 with a homer on Tuesday and is 7-for-24 since his recall from the minors after batting .120 during his first stint with the team earlier in the season. San Diego sents Edwin Jackson to the mound to oppose Ryan Vogelsong in a matchup of veteran right-handers.
Rays vs Blue Jays
J.A. Happ has provided quite the return on the Toronto Blue Jays’ investment this season. Signed to a three-year, $36 million deal in the offseason, Happ puts his string of a career-high nine straight victorious decisions on the line Wednesday versus the Rays. The 33-year-old’s 15 wins this season have comfortably surpassed his previous best total in 2009, although none have come at the expense of Tampa Bay. Happ settled for a pair of no-decisions versus the Rays in April before getting shredded for a career high-tying eight runs on seven hits in a 13-2 shellacking on May 16. Evan Longoria, who is batting .385 in his career against Happ, collected three hits and as many RBIs in Tuesday’s 9-2 victory over Toronto. The 30-year-old is 6-for-15 with two homers, five RBIs and four runs scored in his last four games.
Yankees vs Red Sox
The Yankees are trying to balance moving the youth onto the roster while gracefully shuffling the veterans out the door, and Alex Rodriguez did not get into the game on Tuesday. The 14-time All-Star, who is set to be released by New York after Friday’s game, is expected to at least play on Thursday and could get an at-bat or two on Wednesday.
Reds vs Cardinals
Billy Hamilton is running wild on the basepaths and looks to increase his major league-leading steals total. The speedy Reds center fielder has stolen nine bases over his last three contests, including five in the first two games of this series, to increase his season total to 48. Hamilton, who is 6-for-11 with four walks and six runs scored during his three-game spree, is an astounding 20-for-22 stealing against Cardinals star Yadier Molina, who is considered one of the top throwing catchers in the game. Hamilton reached base four times and scored three runs to fuel Tuesday’s 7-4 win, which occurred one day after St. Louis staged a five-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning to post a 5-4 victory. Molina went 2-for-4 with a homer on Tuesday to improve to 7-for-14 over his last four games and has reached base in each of his last 22 contests.
Rockies vs Rangers
Prince Fielder, in his third season with the Rangers, is walking away from the game after undergoing neck surgery on July 29. It is the second surgical procedure on his neck in a 26-month span. The Rockies were without right fielder Carlos Gonzalez for the past two games. He’ll likely be held out once again on Wednesday.
Angels vs Cubs
Jason Hammel will be activated from the bereavement list to make the start and looks to improve upon his 6-1 record and 2.24 ERA at home. He has won four straight starts to set a career-high for wins after tossing six shutout innings against Miami on Aug. 2. The 33-year-old has allowed four runs and 16 hits in 24 innings during the winning streak and hasn’t given up more than two runs in a start since July 1. Hammel is 1-3 with a 6.59 ERA in six games (five starts) against the Angels, with the last meeting in 2013.
Astros vs Twins
Dallas Keuchel tossed his first shutout of the season in his last turn and looks to post a second consecutive strong outing. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner gave up just three hits in a 5-0 victory over the Texas Rangers while recording his fourth career shutout. Keuchel has experienced a bumpy campaign and was rocked for seven runs in five innings by Detroit in his previous turn. Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve went 4-for-4 in Tuesday’s 7-5 victory over the Twins after being rested Monday to end his consecutive games streak to 202. Minnesota has won seven of its last 10 games behind the red-hot Brian Dozier, whose solo shot and two RBIs on Tuesday gave him six homers and 13 RBIs during the stretch.
Braves vs Brewers
Braves Erick Aybar carries a 14-game hitting streak. He has provided a breath of fresh air for his cellar-dwelling club. Aybar collected two singles in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory for Atlanta, which has won four in a row and six of seven overall. The 32-year-old Dominican traditionally has struggled versus the Brewers, going 8-for-36 in nine career encounters and 0-for-3 versus Wednesday starter Chase Anderson. Ryan Braun went deep on Tuesday for the fourth time in seven outings, during which he has recorded 11 RBIs.
White Sox vs Royals
Jose Quintana has won nine games in each of the last three seasons and will look to reach double-digit victories for the first time against the Royals. He lost six consecutive starts while receiving a total of eight runs of support earlier this season, but he is 4-0 since July 3 thanks to some increased offensive support. Losers of 12 of its last 17 overall, Kansas City sends Ian Kennedy to the mound to face Quintana.
Orioles vs Athletics
Baltimore had just three hits in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss with the run coming on a homer by center fielder Adam Jones, who has five hits in the series and is 11-for-22 during a five-game hitting streak. Orioles All-Star right fielder Mark Trumbo, who is tied for the major-league lead with 31 homers, is just 7-for-57 with one blast over his past 15 contests.
Tigers vs Mariners
Two former American League Cy Young Award winners will square off in Seattle. Detroit sends 2011 winner Justin Verlander, who also was the AL MVP that season, to the mound against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, who captured the Cy Young the previous year. Verlander has won each of his last five decisions and recorded at least nine strikeouts in four of his last five outings overall, while Hernandez is 2-0 in four turns since returning from a calf injury that landed him on the disabled list.
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Angels vs Cubs
The Cubs’ John Lackey and Angels’ Jered Weaver (Tuesday’s starters) were Los Angeles teammates during Weaver’s first four major league seasons (2006-09), with Lackey serving as his mentor. Lackey received a no-decision in his third straight quality start after yielding three runs and seven hits while striking out eight in seven innings of the Cubs’ 5-4 victory over Miami last Wednesday.
Braves vs Brewers
Center fielder Matt Kemp is endearing himself to his new team with some spirited play of late. Kemp had an RBI single in the fourth inning and scored the go-ahead run in the 12th of Monday’s 4-3 victory over the Brewers. The veteran is 5-for-13 with a homer, four RBIs and three runs scored in his last three games and 7-for-14 with a homer and five RBIs in his career versus Tuesday starter Wily Peralta. He isn’t the only one swinging a hot bat, as teammates Ender Inciarte and Erick Aybar are carrying respective 19- and 13-game hitting streaks into Tuesday’s tilt. Veteran Ryan Braun is doing fine in his own right with hits in 15 of 18 games since the All-Star break for the Brewers, who have dropped four of their last five contests.
Astros vs Twins
Houston’s Jose Altuve received his first day off this season in the series opener against Minnesota. The second baseman leads the major leagues with a .356 batting average. He’s played in 202 consecutive games before Monday’s rest. It was the the longest current playing streak in baseball. Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario collected three hits in the opener to improve to 14-for-28 during his seven-game hitting streak.
Reds vs Cardinals
Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter was 2-for-5 with two RBIs in the opener after being removed from Saturday’s contest and sitting out on Sunday due to an injured oblique. Cincinnati center fielder Billy Hamilton stole two bases on Monday and is tied for most in the majors with 45. He’s 17-for-19 against St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina, which is the most steals by anyone against the respected receiver.
White Sox vs Royals
White Sox left-hander Chris Sale will make his fifth attempt for his 15th win. He’ll oppose right-hander Edinson Volquez, who’s been rocked for the second straight outing at Tampa Bay last Wednesday.
Orioles vs Athletics
All-Star third baseman Manny Machado has four homers and nine RBIs over the past two games. The recent display has increased Machado’s round-tripper count to 26, nine shy of his career high set last season. Oakland left fielder Khris Davis has matched his career best of 27 homers but has just one blast and one RBI over the last nine games.
Tigers vs Mariners
Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera notched one of the five singles Monday, giving him at least one hit in seven of his last eight contests. Teammate Ian Kinsler improved to 12-for-27 during a hitting streak that reached seven games. Trailing Cleveland by 2 1/2 games for first place in the AL Central, Detroit are sending Daniel Norris to the mound against Seattle’s Wade LeBlanc in a battle of left-handers.
Phillies vs Dodgers
In a season when the Los Angeles Dodgers have placed a total of 26 players on the disabled list, rookie shortstop Corey Seager has emerged as their most reliable and dangerous offensive threat. The 22-year-old belted two homers in Monday’s series-opening 9-4 win and is batting .326 with nine doubles, four home runs, and 13 RBI over his last 20 games. Seager has taken a commanding lead in the National League rookie of the year race with 21 home runs while serving an invaluable role atop the batting order for Los Angeles.
Philadelphia has struggled over the last two months, but may have found their right fielder of the future in Aaron Altherr. The German born player missed the season’s first 103 games with a wrist injury, but has provided surprising pop from the second spot in the order. Altherr is expected to receive regular playing time even after Peter Bourjos returns from the 15-day disabled list to join a crowded outfield later this week.
August 8 Fantasy Baseball Preview
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Rays vs Blue Jays
Scheduled Monday Rays starter Jake Odorizzi has not allowed a run in three straight games spanning 20 2/3 innings. Tampa Bay shortstop Brad Miller is 8-for-21 with three homers and seven RBIs during a six-game hitting streak.
Giants vs Marlins
National League Cy Young Award candidates Johnny Cueto of the Giants and Jose Fernandez of the Marlins are scheduled to square off. They have combined to hold the opposition to two or fewer runs in 28 of their 43 starts this season, although neither managed to win his last time out. Miami saw an high-profile chase come to an end in Sunday’s victory over the Rockies, as Ichiro Suzuki became the fourth player born outside the United States and 30th in major-league history to reach 3,000 hits.
Braves vs Brewers
Brewers rookie center fielder Keon Broxton reached base nine times in the series and is hitting .387 with seven walks, three doubles, two homers and seven RBIs in his past 12 games. Milwaukee leads the majors in stolen bases (116). They are led by Jonathan Villar, who stole two bases Sunday and opens the week tied with Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton for the major-league lead (43).
Astros vs Twins
Former top prospect and Twins third baseman Miguel Sano has endured an up-and-down campaign in his first full season in the majors but led the offense with a pair of home runs in Sunday’s 6-3 victory in Tampa Bay.
Reds vs Cardinals
The Reds are highlighting individual successes in an otherwise disappointing campaign and got three hits and four stolen bases from center fielder Billy Hamilton on Sunday. Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips is also red hot going 12-for-19 with eight RBIs in the last five games.
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Blue Jays vs Royals
The Toronto Blue Jays have won three games in a row and eight of 11 to pull within a single percentage point of the number one spot in the American League East. The surging Blue Jays look to continue their torrid stretch, opening a three-game series versus the reeling Kansas City Royals.
Braves vs Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals are getting healthy but are looking for a push in their battle for a National League wild-card spot against the Atlanta Braves. Leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter is expected to participate in the opener after missing 29 games with a strained right oblique. They’ve already had backup earlier this week, when infielders Jhonny Peralta and Brandon Moss came off the disabled list.
Marlins vs Rockies
The Miami Marlins have had a day off to recover from a catastrophic defeat and will try to turn things around against Colorado Rockies. The Marlins kicked off their six-game road trip with three straight losses to the Chicago Cubs, none as bad as Wednesday’s 5-4 defeat.
Brewers vs Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks want to end a disappointing run of pitching performances. They’ll host the Milwaukee Brewers for the next few day’s in three-game series set. The bottom-place Diamondbacks have given up 46 runs during a four-game losing streak. Their opponents, on the other hand, recorded nine tallies per contest over the last seven.
Cubs vs Athletics
Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell once dreamed of playing at Oakland Coliseum. Dream will become a reality for him when his squad begin a three-game interleague series against the Oakland Athletics. A former A’s prospect, Russell has blossomed into a key player for the major league-best Cubs. Chicago has now four straight victory and won seven of their last eight.
Red Sox vs Dodgers
The Boston Red Sox are set on closing out a 11-game West Coast trek with a winning record. They will be begin a three-game series against the host Los Angeles Dodgers. Boston is 4-4 on the trip. Versatile Brock Holt delivered the tiebreaking RBI single in the 11th inning of Thursday for a 3-2 victory over Seattle, which split even the four-game series.
Angels vs Mariners
The Seattle Mariners are seeking to make up ground in the American League wild-card race. They are entering a stretch in which seven of their following 13 games are against the soaring Los Angeles Angels. Seattle is just 2-4 versus the Angels this season and Los Angeles is a 12-7 since the All-Star break.
Phillies vs Padres
Philadelphia’s Jeremy Hellickson was a prime candidate to be moved prior to Monday’s trade deadline, but the veteran right-hander will be staying around after-all. He’ll take the ball in Friday’s three-game series opener against the Padres in San Diego. Hellickson stretched his unbeaten streak to three starts (2-0) despite giving up three runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 9-5 victory in Atlanta on Saturday.
MLB Games Recap
Monday took a weird turn for the Brewers and the best team in baseball needed to get back on the right direction. FanPicks (click to play) has your MLB Games Recap.
Guerra brilliant versus the Nats
Brew Crew’s Junior Guerra won against Nats Max Scherzer. That’s right! He won denying any run to score in a 1-0 victory. This gives Milwaukee his first victory in four games. Martin Maldonado scored the unique run of the meeting, with his third home run of the season. Guerra (6-1) gave up two hits in seven and one-third innings of work. He struck out seven and conceded two walks. The 31 years-old rookie also allowed no runs in the game prior to Washington. He is now victorious in his last three starts. Scherzer (9-6) threw 114 pitches in six innings. He allowed one run and four hits and three walks. The ace also struck out seven hitters.
The highlight (or blunder) of this game came in the first when, after two outs, Ryan Braun presents himself to the plate and hits a single. Nationals manager Dusty Baker immediately came out of the dugout to speak with empire Cory Blaser. After a small consultation between all of the empires, the decision was to call a third out on Jonathan Lucroy. Turns out that within the starting lineup sheets given to the empires and Dusty Baker, Lucroy was the intended hitter, followed by Braun. Only the press gallery had received the sheet with Braun hitting in third spot, his regular spot in the lineup. Braun came back to hit in the second but failed to reached first base this time.
Chicago back on track
Kris Bryant knocked his 24th long ball of his campaign in a 10-4 Chicago Cubs win over the Cincinnati Reds. This win puts an end to the four game Chicago skid. Bryant’s homer scored two points on the board. However, the National League home run leader had to leave three innings later because he got hurt to his left leg. Among the other Cubs home run hitters, both Willson Contreras and Addison Russell blasted one out of the park. Contreras already collected five homers since making the big league back on June 17th. Kyle Hendricks (7-6) spaced out one run and four hits in five innings and one-third of work for Chicago.
MLB Fantasy Baseball Draft Top Evening Picks
June 14th 2016
Major League Baseball resumes with all 30 team in action this Tuesday. The Toronto Blue Jays are hosting the Philadelphia Phillies in an early morning matchup, while the rest of the games will begin at 7PM ET tonight. There will be a clash at Fenway, as two of the top pitchers this season will face-off. O’s Chris Tillman will go for win number 9, but he’ll have to out-duel Boston’s ace David Price. Also, Brew’s Crew pitcher Matt Garza will make his return from injury for the first time this season in San Francisco . He will have a lot on his plate, as he go’s against the leagues third best ERA pitcher Madison Bumgarner. Here is the MLB fantasy baseball draft top picks (click to draft):
|Players||Pos||Team||Opp||Last Game FP||Last Two Games FP Avg||Last Four Games FP Average||Last Ten Games FP Average|
MLB Fantasy Baseball Draft Notables
- With Chicago Cubs Jorge Soler on the disabled list, rookie Albert Almora Jr. is likely to start in left field against Washington’s left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez. Known primarily for his defense, Almora has three hits in 10 at-bats since being called up earlier this month.
- New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday after sitting out Sunday due to wrist soreness.
- By the time Jacob deGrom starts Tuesday’s series opener with the Pirates, the Mets’ right-hander will have had a week off between outings.
- Detroit Tigers pitcher Jordan Zimmermann is 2-0 with a 1.83 ERA in three career starts against the White Sox.
- It’s possible that Astros shortstop Carlos Correa will return Tuesday against the Cards. He was out of the lineup for all three games of Houston’s series against Tampa Bay after spraining his left ankle last Thursday against Texas.
- New York Yankees hurler Nathan Eovaldi is 6-0 with a 3.86 ERA over his last nine starts, the longest winning streak by a Yankees pitcher this season.
- Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is not expected in the lineup for a sixth straight game because of a strained left hamstring, though he will be available as a pinch-hitter.