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Through last Sunday teams had roughly 100 games still to be played which gives them plenty of time to make up ground in the standing – or to extend current leads.

The Houston Astros continue to have the best record in baseball, 44-20, and look like the best team in the American League.

Only one other team in MLB has won at least 40 games and that team leads the NL West with a 41-24 record. The Colorado Rockies rate as one of the major surprises thus far with their 1.5 game lead over the L A Dodgers and 2 game lead over another surprise team, Arizona.

2017 has unfolded as a season featuring more offense than we saw the past several seasons. Teams are scoring an average of 4.6 runs per game.

At 3.5 runs per game San Diego has displayed the weakest offense in the majors with the NY Yankees averaging an MLB high 5.9 rpg.

From a runs prevention standpoint San Diego is allowing an MLB high 5.5 runs per game. The best team has been the Dodgers who are allowing just 3.4 runs per game.

Houston is also excellent at preventing runs, allowing just 3.9 runs per game which has them tied for second with a very surprising team.

Playing in a strong hitters’ ballpark, Arizona is also allowing just 3.9 rpg which largely explains why they are 39-26 and just 2 games behind the Rockies in the NL West.

San Diego’s runs differential is a staggering minus 125, which is 46 runs more than Philadelphia, next worst at minus 79.

The Yankees have overtaken Houston for the best runs differential, plus 115 through Sunday. The OVER is 464-427-8.

The evolution of the Yankees dynasty can be traced to the original “Core Four” of starting pitcher Andy Pettitte, closer Mariano Rivera, shortstop Derek Jeter and catcher Jorge Posada. That quartet formed the nucleus of the Yankees teams that won 5 World Series titles between 1996 and 2009. Each made his MLB debut in 1995.

Each of the Core Four was originally signed or drafted by the Yankees and worked their way through their minor league system.

The sequel to the Core Four is making its presence felt this season. Consisting of catcher Gary Sanchez, starting pitcher Luis Severino, power hitting outfielder Aaron Judge and their current/future closer Dellin Betances this quartet is poised have the Yankees perennial contenders for perhaps the next decade or so, notwithstanding injuries or free agency.

Here’s a look at three series for this weekend.

Washington at NY Mets: The road team won the first five games before the Nationals won the last meeting of that stretch – and by the lopsided score of 23-5. 3 of the games went OVER the Total, 2 stayed UNDER and there was 1 push. Aside from that last meeting, in the five other games the teams averaged a combined 8.0 runs per game. The Nats have the top two starters in this series, Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer, and that duo can be backed if laying no more than -150 against any Mets starter.

The Mets can be backed as underdogs of +120 or more against any other Washington starter or if favored by no more than -125 if Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler starts against other than Strasburg, Scherzer or Gio Gonzalez. Totals players may prefer to look UNDER before OVER even though the Mets are +16 to the OVER on the season. Washington’s bat have been silent over the past few weeks, scoring 4 runs or less in 17 of the last 24 games and 3 runs or less in 13 of the 17. Look to play UNDER Totals of 8 or higher.

Boston at Houston: These teams are meeting for the first time this season. Lance McCullers Jr as the best starter Houston has available and may see action in this series. Boston has gotten everything they expected from Chris Sale, acquired in the off season from the White Sox. David Price has made 3 starts since missing the first two months of the season. Last season’s Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello, has struggled. With the exception of starts by Sale or McCullers the OVER should be considered at Totals of 9 or lower. Should Sale match up against McCullers the UNDER would be playable at 7.5 or higher.

Boston would be playable at -140 or less in a start by Sale against any starter other than McCullers whereas the Astros can be played at -150 or less in a start by McCullers against other than Sale. In games not involving Sale or McCullers look to the Underdog if getting +125 or more.

St. Louis at Baltimore: The weekend’s lone interleague series has appeal from a historical perspective with two franchises that have had success over the years facing one another. Interestingly, through Sunday the home team had won 12 straight St. Louis games. Both offenses have been below average this season St. Louis has a decided edge in starting pitching with Carlos Martinez, Lance Lynn and Mike Leake each with ERAs under 3.00 and WHIPs below 1.10 through their first 12 or 13 starts. Baltimore’s best starter has been Dylan Bundy but the rest of the rotation has been below average.

St. Louis would be the play as underdogs of any price against Kevin Gausman or Chris Tillman or as favorites of -130 or less in starts by Martinez, Leake or Lynn against any Baltimore starter other than Bundy. Baltimore’s best situation would be in a start by Bundy and the Orioles would be playable if favored by no more than -125 against any Cardinals starter. Both teams have identical Totals records with 31 OVERs, 27 UNDERs and 3 PUSHes through Sunday. Consider OVER 7.5 or lower and UNDER 9 or higher.

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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