Cincinnati Reds-New York Rangers favors Cincinnati

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With the NBA season having ended last Thursday and the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs over by this Wednesday, the focus of the majority of sports betters for the next month or so will be on major league baseball.

MLB will fill the void between the end of the winter sports and the start of the NFL preseason in August.

The American League East is officially baseball’s best Division as June turns into July. All five teams have winning records and Toronto is the hottest team in the game.

The Blue Jays have gotten back into contention with 11 straight wins through Sunday and have overtaken Tampa Bay by percentage points for fourth place in the Division. Both are two games above .500 and just five behind first place Boston.

The Pittsburgh Pirates remain one of the best stories over the first third of the 2013 season. Looking for their first winning season since 1992, Pittsburgh has the second best record (46-30) in all of baseball, trailing only Division rival St. Louis (47-29).

The Pirates have shown improvement the past two seasons but have faded late in their quest to end two decades of futility. At this time last season Pittsburgh was 41-35 and a season earlier 39-37. Perhaps this is the year they not only have a winning record but contend for the Playoffs well into September.

Not surprisingly, the Pirates have been the most profitable team at the betting windows – and by a rather large margin. Through Sunday Pirates bettors are up a total of 21.9 units. To put that in perspective, baseball’s second most profitable team has been Texas, up 13.3 units. No other team is showing even as much as +9.

The costliest teams are pretty easy to identify. Just think “disappointment.” There are six teams down more than 10 units after roughly 75 games. The most “offensive” team has been the Los Angeles Angels.

The Halos are down a whopping 24.4 units – essentially losing one unit every three games. Their neighbors to the north, the Dodgers, are down 18.9 units thus far, followed by Milwaukee (down 14.8), Miami (-12.7), the Chicago White Sox (-11.9) and the NY Mets (-11.4).

The future of the Mets is bright as their two young stud starting pitchers, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, led New York to a doubleheader sweep in Atlanta last Wednesday.

Wheeler pitched six scoreless innings in his MLB debut while Harvey has been sensational all season with a 2.05 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 16 starts. It’s extremely impressive that Harvey is allowing less than a base runner per inning in 110 innings to date.

The NL Central is top heavy and the NL West is well balanced with only the Dodgers sporting a losing record, five games behind fourth place San Diego.

Bottom feeders can also be profitable if you catch them at the right time. Miami (25-50) and Houston (29-48) have the two worst records in the game and are the only teams playing sub-.400 baseball. Yet both have won 6 of their last 10 games entering the week.

Miami still has been costly to bettors, as noted above. Houston’s recent success has got them back to virtually break even for the season, down just 0.7 units. Going back a month, the Astros are 14-11 over their last 25 games and could be worth a look as their overall record masks their improved play that dates back a third of the season.

Here’s a look at four interesting series this weekend.

D’backs at Braves: In their only prior series, Arizona won 2 of 3 when they hosted the Braves in mid May. The teams averaged exactly 7 combined runs per game as 1 game went OVER, 1 stayed UNDER and another pushed. Both teams top their divisions with Atlanta’s 6 game edge in the NL East the largest of any Division leader.

The Braves have been streaky on offense and in an offensive slump of late, scoring 3 or fewer runs in 13 of their last 18 games. But the pitching has been first rate. And the Braves’ hurlers have been healthy. All but one start has been made by a member of the regular five man rotation and the lone exception was necessitated by a double header.

Lefty Patrick Corbin has been Arizona’s best pitcher by far. Arizona is 14-1 in his starts this season. But beyond Corbin there’s a big drop off and Arizona has a losing record when their other four starters take the mound (24-31).

Recommended plays: Atlanta as underdogs of any price not facing Corbin or +125 or more against Corbin; OVER 8 or lower in any matchup except if Corbin opposes Atlanta’s Mike Minor or Julio Teheran.

Yankees at Orioles: The Yankees took 2 of 3 when they hosted the Orioles in mid April with Baltimore taking 2 of 3 when NY visited five weeks later. The UNDER is 4-1-1 in this season’s series.

Adam Jones and Chris Davis are the heart of the Baltimore lineup with Davis having an MVP type season. Hiroki Kuroda remains New York’s most effective and consistent starter whereas ace CC Sabathia may be starting to show signs of age and a huge workload over the past few seasons.

The Orioles have already used 11 different starters this season with Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez and the injured WY Chen posting the best stats but even those stats are modest at best.

Recommended plays: Either team as +125 underdogs or more in any matchup; Baltimore -120 favorites or less in any matchup; OVER 8.5 in any matchup.

Reds at Rangers: Cincinnati has pretty much picked up where it left off last season. Texas’ success relies upon some key personnel changes from last season, notably the departure of Josh Hamilton and the season long absence to injury of starting pitcher Colby Lewis.

The Cincy rotation is deep and balanced with all six pitchers with seven or more starts posting ERA’s of 3.75 or lower and WHIPs below 1.20, accounting for all but one start this season.

Rangers pitching is led by Yu Darvish with Derek Holland also having a fine season. But the rest of the rotation has trouble lasting six innings per start. Overall, Cincinnati is the more legit team and should fare well in this series.

Recommended plays: Cincinnati as underdogs in any matchup; Cincinnati -125 favorites or less not facing Darvish or Holland; UNDER 9 or higher in most matchups; UNDER 8 or higher if Darvish or Alexi Ogando start for the Rangers.

Cardinals at A’s: Both teams are playing excellent baseball which is not a surprise when it comes to the Cardinals. Oakland’s performance is a surprise to many who thought last season’s success was a fluke.

St. Louis continues to have the best record in baseball but has been unable to shake free of both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. St. Louis has the better offense but Oakland has been above average. Only three AL teams have scored more than the A’s.

The ageless Bartolo Colon has emerged as Oakland’s ace (2.93 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in 15 starts). Tommy Milone and AJ Griffin have been next best but still rate below the Cardinals’ top starters. St. Louis’ trio of Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller have all been steady and consistent. Oakland has long been known as a pitcher friendly venue but the OVER/UNDER is 17-17.

Recommended plays: St. Louis as +125 underdogs or more against Colon. St. Louis as underdogs of any price against other Oakland starters; St. Louis as -130 favorites or less in starts by Wainwright or Miller against any Oakland starter; UNDER 8 or higher in a start by Wainwright and Miller or by Colon and Griffin.

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]

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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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