Lots of Baseball teams still in playoff hunt

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Less than five weeks remain in the regular season and for a number of teams, there is still a lot to play for.

In the American League, six teams realistically have a chance for one of five playoff berths. Boston, the defending World Series champs, are likely to miss the playoffs, starting play Tuesday six games out of the second Wild Card.

More teams are in the mix in the National League with five teams less than five games out of the second Wild card, resulting in 10 teams still in play.

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Making up a game a week over five weeks is a tough but not insurmountable hurdle. Teams that are able to make up that much ground would be dangerous in the playoffs after having effectively been in a playoff situation for much of the season’s final month.

Rosters can be expanded to include up to 40 players beginning Sunday. In betting the season’s final month, you should look to play games matching either two contending teams or two non-contenders.

Games between a team in contention and one that has been or is about to be eliminated often have the favorite too highly priced to consider, even on the run line. If you are considering such matchups look for competent underdogs.

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Here are thoughts and potential plays for three weekend series.

Mets at Phillies: These NL East rivals are competing for a Wild Card with neither likely to catch division-leading Atlanta.  Through Monday, Philly was one game out of the second Wild Card with the Mets one game behind the Phils.

The Mets have the clear edge on the mound but the offenses are fairly even. New York averages 4.8 runs per game both at home and on the road whereas the Phillies average 5.1 rpg at home and just 4.5 rpg on the road.

Aaron Nola is the only Phillies pitcher to consider backing as a favorite although his productivity is considerably below that of last season. The Mets’ Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler can be backed as favorites against other than Nola.

DeGrom’s playable up to -150, Syndergaard up to -130 and Wheeler up to -120.  Against the Philly ace look Under a total of 7.5 or higher if he faces deGrom or back the Mets as underdogs of +130 or more if Nola faces Syndergaard or Wheeler.

Philly’s best situation is in a start by Jason Vargas, who was traded from the Mets to Philly at the deadline. Look to back the Phillies if Vargas is favored by -125 or less against anyone other than deGrom or as an underdog against any other starter.

Athletics at Yankees: This is quick revenge for the Yankees who lost all three games in Oakland last week, outscored 17-9 despite outhitting the A’s 30-25. The Yanks led for a total of just two half innings, being outscored by Oakland in the bottom half of the two innings in which they took the lead.

The Yanks are battling Houston for the top AL seed in the playoffs.  Oakland is in a tight battle with Cleveland and Tampa Bay for the two Wild Cards. New York is likely to be favored in each game.

This is a potential ALDS preview and the Yankees would like to take at least two of the three games given last week’s results. Neither team has a top quality starting pitcher.  The Yanks’ Domingo German ranks number 43 out of 156 starters that qualify for my rankings and Oakland’s Chris Bassitt is 45.

I will look to back the Yankees to do just that, playing them straight at prices of -150 or less in any matchup or laying the run and a half if the price is higher. Should we cash tickets on both Friday and Saturday I will pass on Sunday’s attempt for the sweep. For totals I’ll look Over totals of 9 or less.

Indians at Rays: Both teams are contending for an AL Wild Card although the Indians can still catch Minnesota in the AL Central.

Both teams are stronger on the mound than at the plate. In their only prior meeting, Tampa won three of four in Cleveland in late May. Three of the four stayed Under the Total as the teams scored just 30 runs in that series.

Only the Dodgers are better in runs prevention than this duo as the Tribe is allowing just 4.0 runs per game, Tampa Bay 3.9 rpg.

Shane Bieber has been Cleveland’s best starter. Charlie Morton has been the best for Tampa.  Look to the Under in a start by Bieber as the young ace is 18-7-2 to the low side this season.

Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac can be played as underdogs of +120 or more against other than Morton. 


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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