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The regular season ends on Sunday, Sept. 29, which means most teams have a full month, or roughly 30 games, to either make up ground and make the Playoffs or to hold off those teams charging from behind.

Two seasons ago a pair of teams made spectacular runs during September to come from virtually nowhere to make the Playoffs. Of course it did take huge collapses by the teams they overtook for those runs to be successful, but both Tampa Bay and St. Louis overtook Boston and Atlanta to make the Playoffs. And St Louis went on to win the World Series.

Despite the controversy surrounding the appeal of the suspension handed to Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees may have had their “critical moment” a week ago that could spur them on to the Playoffs.

The well publicized incident involving Boston pitcher Ryan Dempster’s hitting Rodriguez gave rise to some angry postgame comments by Yankees manager Joe Girardi, which was very much out of character for the usually mild mannered, nondescript skipper. His outrage, for which he was fined, not only seemed to light a spark for the team but, more importantly, appears to have won him full respect in the clubhouse.

New York went on to sweep four games from Toronto and after seeing their five-game win streak end with a pair of losses in Tampa Bay, the Bronx Bombers won the series finale against the Bucs to end last week.

The Yankees start the week 3.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot, which is currently held by Oakland. But with a month and 32 games remaining it certainly is possible to make up that ground. The prediction here remains that the Yankees will fall short, but given their experience and the fact they’ve gotten stronger on offense over the past few weeks could tempt some to make a play on the Yankees, who were held at 50-1 odds to win the World Series and 25-1 to win the AL pennant at the LVH Sports Book late last week.

A team in the NL to consider is Washington. The Nationals have struggled much of the season and start the week 65-65. They trail Atlanta by 13 games in the NL East and are 8.5 games out of the second NL Wild Card with three teams to catch.

Two factors are working in the Nationals’ favor – the schedule and the competition. The top three teams in the NL Central are tightly bunched for the Division lead and control of both Wild Cards. The only other team the Washington Nats need to catch is Arizona, and the Diamondbacks are 1.5 games ahead of the Nats through Sunday’s action.

And although it appears unlikely Washington can make up the bakers dozen games by which they trail Atlanta, the Division-leading Braves are contending with several significant injuries both to their starting pitching (both Tim Hudson and Brandon Beach are on the DL) and to the offense (Justin Heyward and Dan Uggla are also on the DL).

The Nationals have 32 games remaining, 23 against Miami, the Mets and Philadelphia. They also host the Braves for three games in mid-September. Their other six games are three in St Louis and three in Arizona in the final week of the season.

The Braves actually have an easier schedule with series against the Cubs, Brewers and Padres in addition to facing the Mets, Phillies and Marlins. But given their health issues, the Braves might struggle down the stretch. And they have the memory of 2011 to reflect upon.

And at odds of 150-1 to win the World Series and 75-1 to win the NL pennant you might be tempted to take a shot. Especially if you had bet the Cardinals or Rays at about this time two seasons ago. Unlikely to cash, but…

Here’s a look at four series of interest this weekend.

CARDINALS/PIRATES: For the season the Pirates hold an 8-5 lead with the teams averaging a combined 8.7 total runs per game. The OVER is 8-4-1.

Recommended plays: Pittsburgh +120 or more in most any matchup; Pittsburgh +150 or more against Adam Wainwright; St Louis as favorites in starts by Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly or Wainwright not facing AJ Burnett or Francisco Liriano; UNDER 8 or higher in any matchup.

INDIANS/TIGERS: Detroit has owned the Indians, winning 13 of 16 games, including seven of their last eight meetings, all of which were played in Cleveland. The OVER is 9-7.

Recommended plays: Detroit -150 or less in any matchup; Cleveland +200 in any matchup; Cleveland +150 in a start by Justin Masterson not facing Max Scherzer; UNDER 9 or higher in any matchup.

ORIOLES/YANKS: Baltimore has won 7 of 12 in the series with the UNDER going 8-2-2.

Recommended plays: New York -140 or less in starts by Hiroki Kuroda or Ivan Nova; Baltimore +125 or more against any other New York starter; OVER 9 or lower in any matchup not involving Kuroda, WY Chen or Norris; UNDER 8 or higher Kuroda opposes Chen, Bud Norris or Chris Tillman.

RAYS/A’s: In their only prior meetings this season Tampa Bay swept a three-game home series in mid-April. The series produced 2 OVERS.

Recommended plays: Tampa Bay as underdogs in any start by Price, Alex Cobb or Chris Archer; Tampa Bay -130 or less in a start by Price; Oakland as underdogs of any price not facing Price, Cobb or Archer; Oakland +150 or more against Price; UNDER 7 or higher if Price, Cobb or Archer oppose AJ Griffin or Jarrod Parker; OVER 7.5 or lower if none of those five pitchers is involved.

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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