The 2013 season is getting definition now that most teams have played close to 70 games and less than 100 remain over the next 3½ months.
There are no truly outstanding teams as only two began this week playing .600 baseball or better. And both play in the NL Central.
St. Louis has baseball’s best record at 44-25 (.638) while second place Cincinnati is winning exactly 60 percent of its games (42-28). Interestingly baseball’s third best record belongs to the NL Central’s third best team, Pittsburgh.
The Pirates are 41-28 and their .594 winning percentage is slightly better than three Division leaders (Boston, Oakland and Atlanta) and several games above two other frontrunners (Detroit and Arizona).
The best Division in baseball would have to be the AL East where four of the five teams are above .500 and last place Toronto is just four games below. Only one other Division has four teams playing winning baseball and the one below .500 (the Dodgers) is a surprise to many.
Los Angeles remains one of baseball’s most disappointing teams and starts the week last in the NL West, 5½ games behind fourth place San Diego. The Padres are 35-34 following a weekend sweep of Division leading Arizona that extended their winning streak to 6.
Rumors have been circulating for weeks about the imminent dismissal of Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and that move may well be on the immediate horizon.
After dropping two of three this past weekend, the Dodgers are in New York for a two game series against the Yankees – the team Mattingly excelled as a player between a pair of championship runs.
Mattingly made his debut in 1982, a season after the Yankees had won the World Series. The 1985 AL MVP played 14 seasons for the Bronx Bombers, making the post season only once (1995), his final season in the majors. The Yanks were ousted by Seattle in the ALDS but went on to win the World Series in four of the next five seasons.
It would not be a surprise if the Dodgers are waiting until after this midweek series to make a managerial change, allowing Mattingly to get his much deserved adulation upon his return to Yankee Stadium.
The new Dodgers ownership has too much invested in this team to accept the results they’ve seen thus far to continue much deeper. There are still more than 90 games remaining.
If the Dodgers are to play to their potential a change may need to be made with the realistic goal of returning to a .500 record by the All Star break. The Dodgers start this week 10 games below break even.
It’s the middle of June and still too early to write off most teams’ chances of making the Playoffs or to consider front runners as shoo-ins to make the post season.
This is especially true when it comes to teams that have underperformed over the first part of a season compared to expectations.
One team that comes to mind that fits this mold is Toronto. The Blue Jays made significant off season moves to strengthen the roster both on the mound and at the plate.
Expectations were high as the season began but the Blue Jays got off to a horrible start. But following their sweep of a four game series in Texas the Blue Jays have won 8 of their last 10 games. They have improved to just 4 games below .500.
Toronto is still without offensive catalyst Jose Reyes, who is on the DL but could return by the All Star break. Keep an eye on the Jays over the next few weeks as they are gaining momentum and starting to perform as expected, making them a candidate for added profits over the next month at reasonable prices.
Texas may be a team to fade. The Rangers are starting to show the impact of losing Josh Hamilton to the Angels in the offseason.
Here’s a preview of four series to be played over the weekend.
Reds at D’backs: Cincinnati is one of the best balanced teams in all of baseball. Arizona is perfect 13-0 when Patrick Corbin starts.
Recommended plays: Cincinnati as underdogs in any match-up except at +120 or more against Corbin; Cincinnati -120 or less not facing Corbin; Arizona +125 or more not facing Mat Latos or Johnny Cueto; Arizona +140 or more against Latos or Cueto; UNDER 9½ or higher in any match-up.
Orioles at Jays: These AL East rivals are playing their third series with Baltimore holding a 4-3 edge. The first two games stayed UNDER but the last five have gone OVER.
Recommended plays: OVER 8 or lower in any match-up; Toronto -130 or less in starts by RA Dickey, Mark Buehrle or Josh Johnson against any Baltimore starter; Baltimore +150 or more against Dickey, Buehrle or Johnson;. Baltimore +125 or more against other Toronto starters.
Red Sox at Tigers: Boston is averaging 5 runs per game both at home and on the road. The Tigers are averaging an MLB best 5.7 rpg at home.
Recommended plays: Detroit -125 or less not facing Clay Buchholz; Boston -125 or less in a start by Buchholz not facing Justin Verlander;. Boston +120 or more with Buchholz against Verlander; Boston +150 or more with any other starter against Verlander; OVER 8½ or lower in games not involving Buchholz or John Lackey.
Rangers at Cards: First meeting since the Cardinals overcame a 3-2 deficit to win the 2011 World Series.
Recommended plays: St. Louis -140 or less in starts by Adam Wainwright or Shelby Miller not facing Yu Darvish; St. Louis -125 or less in starts not by Wainwright or Miller and not facing Darvish; Texas +120 or more in a start by Darvish against any St. Louis starter; UNDER 8½ or higher in most match-ups; UNDER 7½ or higher if Darvish opposes Wainwright or Miller.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]