Baseball’s annual All Star break is behind us and attention next turns to the non-waiver trading deadline which occurs on Aug. 1, a day later than usual because July 31 falls on a Sunday.
Over the next two weeks we should see a flurry of trades as contending teams look to fill needs in what they expect will lead them to the Playoffs as either a Division champion or a Wild Card.
A total of 10 of baseball’s 30 teams will make the postseason although for two of the four Wild Cards that extra play will consist of just a single game.
Boston fired the first significant salvo of the trading season late last week, acquiring left handed starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz from San Diego, in exchange for a promising minor leaguer. Pomeranz was a highly thought of prospect years ago but injuries derailed his development and he finally appeared to be fulfilling some of that potential with a strong first half of the season with the Padres.
The Red Sox started this week second in the AL East, just 2 games behind leading Baltimore but holding the first AL Wild Card, a game ahead of Toronto. The Sox have one of baseball’s best lineups and lead the majors in scoring by 31 runs. The main weakness has been in their starting pitching so if the Pomeranz move pays off, the Sox become favorites to win the Division.
Coming out of the All Star break teams that have been struggling want to establish some momentum after nearly a week of rest. Teams that have been playing well seek to maintain that momentum. Those bordering on being buyers or sellers throughout the second half of this month will use the first week of play following the Break to determine their status and set in motion their decisions.
Of the 15 series played this past weekend only two resulted in three game sweeps. One involved the San Francisco Giants, who heavily favored to win each of their road games in San Diego. In two of those games the Giants were approximately -250 and -160 in the other.
The long 162 game schedule combined with injuries, slumps and streaks show just how hard it is to win 100 which is why reaching the century mark is still considered a feat that defines those that accomplish it to be outstanding teams.
It’s been stressed before that if you wager on baseball you should always consider listing starting pitchers if your handicap of the game places a great deal of emphasis on one or both starters. This is generally the case.
During the next two weeks this becomes even more important as it has not been uncommon over the years to be late changes in the starting pitcher for teams that complete trades within hours of a pitcher’s scheduled start.
This is especially true when you are backing an underdog that has a quality starter on the bump. You would not want to be left with “action” when your quality starter is scratched because he has just been traded to a contender and your bet rests on the performance on a replacement you would never consider to support.
Here’s a preview of three weekend series.
NY Mets at Miami: Each took 2 of 3 games on the road coming out of the All Star break with the Mets’ success coming in Philadelphia and the Marlins’ in St Louis. The Marlins took 2 of 3 in New York in mid-April but the Mets took 2 of 3 both in Miami in early June and again at home in early July. With the exception of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, the Mets have the edge in starting pitching.
Plays: UNDER at totals of 7 or higher, although a matchup of Fernandez against either Noah Syndergaard or Jacob DeGrom would support playing 6.5. The Mets’ starting pitching edge would permit a play on them in starts by DeGrom, Syndergaard, Steven Matz laying -130 or less not facing Fernandez. If any of that trio opposes Fernandez the Mets would be playable at +150 or more with the Marlins playable at -150 or less. Miami -125 or less against the Mets’ Bartolo Colon or Logan Verrett. OVER 7 or lower in games not involving Fernandez, DeGrom, Matz or Syndergaard.
Cleveland at Baltimore: In their only prior series Baltimore took 2 of 3 in Cleveland by identical 6-4 scores, sandwiched around Cleveland’s 11-4 win. All 3 games went OVER. Cleveland’s edge is in starting pitching with Baltimore holding the edge on offense. Chris Tillman is Baltimore’s only starter with an ERA below 4.15 (3.29) and WHIP below 1.30 (1.21). Of the Indians’ five starter Corey Kluber has the highest ERA (3.84) and Trevor Bauer the highest WHIP (1.19).
Baltimore with Tillman can be played against any Cleveland starter if laying -125 or less. Cleveland can be played as underdogs against any other Baltimore starter. Cleveland’s offense has actually been better than generally perceived, averaging a strong 5.7 runs per game at home and an almost MLB average 4.3 rpg on the road. In totals, use 9 as the guide, looking to play OVER 8.5 or less and UNDER 8.5 or higher.
San Francisco at NY Yanks: In Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto the Giants have the two best starters in this series. Masahiro Tanaka has been the Yanks’ best starter with a significant dropoff beyond him. The Giants’ offense has outperformed the Yankees’ both at home and on the road. Their edge in runs differential is also significant, +67 vs -37.
The Yankees can be played as underdogs against Bumgarner or Cueto only in a start by Tanaka. Not facing Tanaka the Giants can be played in starts by Bumgarner or Cueto if laying -140 or less. In starts not involving Bumgarner, Cueto or Tanaka look to play either team as an underdog of +125 or more. Looking to play OVER 7.5 or lower and UNDER 9.5 or higher, even in a matchup of Bumgarner/Cueto vs Tanaka.