Over the last several days, every headline in just about every print and or online entity, most of the sports radio and podcast shows, as well as tons of tweets and posts, all seem to be surrounding Major League Baseball and the trade deadline.
And unless you are a Houston Astros fan, most of what I read, hear, and scroll through consists of a lot of negativity and some very heated debates.
Some teams that are slated to be division leaders or contenders know they are most likely making the playoffs. Some teams didn’t want to go deep in their pockets. One or two teams that know they are going to be in the postseason still went out and picked up not just some of the best for a quick fix, but some of the best in baseball.
These teams are not setting their sights to earn a Wild Card spot, or on a division crown. They want the league Pennant. It’s the only road to the World Series.
As of penning this week’s column, more than half the teams in the Majors made some moves. Of all the moves that were made, quite a few consisted of the top teams in baseball. The Astros, Dodgers, Braves, Indians, Cubs, Twins, Nationals, Rays, Brewers, Phillies and the A’s all did deals.
The Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Nationals were quiet, displayed little interest, and had no real presence.
After the smoke cleared, only two teams came out of the deadline successful. Houston, acquiring Zack Greinke (among others) and Atlanta, which traded for a quartet of solid contributors — pitchers Shane Greene, Mark Melancon and Chris Martin, along with catcher John Ryan Murphy.
As a matter of fact, of all the teams that are contenders and made moves the last several days, only two teams odds improved, five teams dropped, and five others remained the same:
Does it mean hand the Astros the big trophy? We’ll see. There’s a lot of baseball still to be played and the postseason is filled with unknowns. But the acquisition of Greinke no doubt bolstered Houston’s chances of winning it all. And the odds reflect that.
Here are this week’s Best Bets (all records, stats, and trends are as of print and may change as can starting pitchers). We had a strong week, going 3-0. Let’s try and keep it going.
Cardinals at Dodgers: While St. Louis is just 1.5 GB of Chicago for the top spot in the NL Central, Los Angeles possesses the largest division lead in all of baseball, as their 17-game cushion in the NL West is twice as big as the next widest division leaders’ gap.
Yes, LA made some moves for the trade deadline, giving away pitcher Tony Cingrani and picking up infielder Jedd Gyorko and left-handed reliever Adam Kolarek. In all honesty, I don’t see this changing anything short-term. The Dodgers are still 3-1 to win the World Series.
The Cardinals have taken all four meetings with the Dodgers this season, and five straight going back to last season. They are 58-52 and are a respectable, 18-1 to win the Fall Classic.
I am not saying this is going to happen. Sharing the NL Central with the Cubs and the Brewers is looking like it has the makings of a back alley brawl right now.
This matchup is about the pitching. But it’s not what you might think. Los Angeles possesses the No. 1 pitching staff in baseball with three starters all notching double-digit victories. However, we are not talking about Ryu, Kershaw, or Buehler here. Dustin May (0-1 record, with a 4.76 ERA) is making just his second career start. The right-hander made his Major League debut this past Friday, going 5.2 IP, yielding nine hits and three earned runs to earn a loss at the hands of the Padres.
St. Louis gives Jack Flaherty the nod. The righty has a 5-6 record with a 3.93 ERA on the season, striking out 140 batters in 121.1 IP. The Cardinals’ 2014 1st-round pick shut down the Dodgers in his only start against them this season, allowing just three hits and one earned run, fanning eight, and issuing no BB’s to earn the win.
St. Louis is 4-1 the last five games played at LA and 5-2 the last seven games played on the road. CARDINALS
Yankees at Orioles: There was some disappointment from both media and fans alike when the Yankees skipped over the trade deadline. Many were stunned because they are a contender and desperately need another pitcher. Those who were not stunned, were definitely shocked.
It’s uncharacteristic for New York not to be in the middle of a big name and a big money transaction. They have a 7.5 game lead in the AL East, come off a huge four-game sweep of Boston and go into Oriole Park where they have dominated Baltimore with a 20-7 record the last 27 meetings at Camden Yards.
New York has won nine of 11 contests with Baltimore in 2019. The Bronx Bombers account for 6.36 RPG on the road and own a 39-14 record vs. AL East foes, while the O’s are 18-32 the last 50 games played vs. the AL East. The Orioles are just 17-38 this season at home. YANKEES RUN LINE
Rockies at Astros: Just a few weeks ago, the Dodgers and Yankees were slight favorites over the Astros to win the World Series. Not anymore. Now, Houston is the team to beat.
Colorado is done for the season. After being a true contender last year, finishing the 2018 season 1.0 GB of LA at 91-72, they have the poorest road record in the NL West at 23-33.
The Astros are 2-0 vs. the Rockies this season, and 10-2 the last 12 matchups, with the average margin of victory coming by 4.25 RPG. .
Gerrit Cole owns a 13-5 record with a 2.87 ERA with a whopping, 216 K’s in 150.2 IP. Over his last 10 turns, the right-hander sports an 8-0 record. ASTROS RUN LINE
Last week: 3-0
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