Last to first an early theme of the season
April 18, 2017 3:05 AM
by Ramon Scott
The Major League Baseball season is truly off to an upside-down start, as top American League contenders Cleveland, Texas and Toronto were all in last place through Sunday.
Meanwhile, over in the National League, things aren’t exactly going the norm either, as Cincinnati, Colorado and Miami were either leading or tied for first in their respective divisions.
But like a horse race over a mile, pacesetters can easily fade well before the stretch drive.
Not much has changed when it comes to the expected front-runners, as the futures odds for those teams have slid just a tad, but the quick starts by the upstarts had oddsmakers quickly adjusting their division championship win odds substantially.
The Reds were 100-1 to win the NL Central at the Westgate Superbook just days before the start of the season, but most outfits still offering divisional odds had taken Cincy down to just 20-1.
Meanwhile, the Rockies are getting a load of national notoriety at the start for what many thought to be an overpriced bullpen, but it could be exactly what is needed a mile high for new skipper Bud Black. Colorado has moved from 12-1 to win the West to 7-1 after just two weeks.
Miami opened 20-1 but has already been sliced in half to 10-1. The Washington Nationals seem to be one of the few expected NL contenders to start in form, with a modest 7-5 mark heading into the week.
In the junior circuit, however, a trio of front-runners – Baltimore, Detroit and West-favorite Houston – was off to a good first-place start.
The Orioles were 10-to-1 at the Westgate to capture the AL East before the outset, but have already dropped to 6-1. The Tigers dipped from 5.5-to-1 to win the AL Central to 7-2. Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera left Sunday’s game because of back tightness, a discomfort that may have loomed from as far back as the World Baseball Classic.
While some of the upstarts showed signs of being a potential pennant contender, it may have been a little premature for any significant line movement, whether via action or consideration of market perception.
TEX (-108, 8) at OAK (Wed., 12:35): Look for lefty bats Nomar Mazara and Rougned Odor to have a good look at the A’s Jesse Hahn. Meanwhile, the Rangers’ Martin Perez is off to a nice start with a 2.20 ERA, but the Texas bullpen has been a disaster so far.
CLE (-120, 8.5) at MIN (Wed., 5): Minnesota rookie Adalberto Mejia, acquired last July from San Francisco, makes his second career start, going up against Trevor Bauer. Bauer hasn’t looked sharp in a pair of losses so far, but maybe he can find his way here, as Twins’ Miguel Sano is 1-for-15 against him lifetime and Brian Dozier is batting .115 over 31 PAs.
BOS (-130, 7o20) at TOR (Thu., 9:37): Matinee with Chris Sale certainly proving his worth in Beantown so far with a 1.25 ERA going up against the Jays’ Marco Estrada. Sale has been nicely above his par when facing these Toronto bats, allowing just a .164 avg. to this roster over 104 PAs.
LAA (+120, 8) at HOU (Thu, 11:10): The Astros broke perfectly from the gate, and now Jose Altuve quickly found his usual form over the last week. He always has a good look against starter here Matt Shoemaker with a pair of homers off him. Dallas Keuchel is off to a terrific 0.86 ERA start, but these Angels’ bats have hit him decently in the past.
SF (-110, 9o20) at COL (Fri., 5:40): Tyler Chatwood turned heads with a four-hitter at AT&T on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Giants’ Johnny Cueto is off to a great start again, going 3-0 to date, including a solid seven innings against the Rockies in a win at home last Friday night.
LAD (-106, 8.5) at ARI (Fri., 6:40): Kenta Maeda went just four innings against the D’backs in L.A. on Saturday and has an ERA over 7.00 thus far. Arizona new signee Taijuan Walker has mixed early results, but certainly trending more upward than Maeda.
CUB (-165, 8o15) at CIN: (Sat., 10:10): Aptly-named Rookie Davis gets full indoctrination against the hungry Cubs as Reds were NL’s most profitable team for bettors heading into the week. Davis isn’t a full-fledged starter just yet, so Reds’ seventh-ranked bullpen will get full use. Chicago’s Jon Lester is already getting stronger as he stretches out.
STL (+107, 8o15) at MIL (Sat., 4:10): Brewers’ decent start buoyed by 5-1 mark on road, and getting slow-starting Cards here at NL worst 3-9 to date. Chase Anderson starts for Milwaukee, having allowed just one ER in 13 innings so far, including seven scoreless in win at TOR last time out. Cards’ Lance Lynn gave up three HRs at Nats on April 11.
NYY (+115, 8o15) at PIT (Sun., 10:35): The Bucs’ Ivan Nova faces his former team off a road start at the Cards last Monday. Nova had a solid first two outings despite a 1-1 mark, while the Yankees’ rookie Jordan Montgomery went 4-2/3 in his first ML start, as New York won at home vs. TB. He made his second career start last Monday vs. the White Sox.
WAS (-160, 7o20) at NYM (Sun, 5:05): Max Scherzer gets the Sunday night prime time start against the Mets’ Zach Wheeler, who has allowed this Nats roster a .352/.546/.947, including four home runs in just 71 PAs. The Mets’ possible lineup here has a group of bats that comes in just 7-for-42 against MadMax.