MLB Baseball Milwaukee Brewers still running hot

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Less than a month remains before the playoffs and with fewer than 30 games to be played there is scant little time for teams to make up enough ground to be playing in October.

Milwaukee’s continued hot play has the Brewers up by 10½ games in the NL Central over St. Louis, the largest lead among any of the six Division leaders. The Brewers are likely to finish behind Philadelphia as the second seed in the NL Playoffs although their outstanding home record (50-16) will make the Brew Crew a very tough out should they face the Phillies in the NLCS.

But not so fast.

As things stand now – and are likely to remain at season’s end – Milwaukee would face Atlanta in the best-of-five Divisional series. Getting by the Braves will be no easy task, although the Brewers would be favored. Atlanta has a solid rotation, a balanced lineup and a strong bullpen anchored by a pair of relievers in Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel to take care of the eighth and ninth inning chores.

The Braves are also a very solid 41-25 at home and have a winning record on the road (38-29). And although they trail the Phillies by six games in the NL East, the Braves start this week with just 54 losses – the same number of defeats Milwaukee has suffered this season.

There is a strong likelihood that public, and lines maker, perception will have the Brewers as much greater favorites over the Braves than the records suggest they should be. Not surprisingly the home team has won seven of the eight meetings between the Braves and Brewers this season. Interestingly, the lone road win came in their first meeting of the season, back on April 4, when Atlanta won in Milwaukee 2-1.

Very competitive races are playing out in the AL East between Boston and the New York Yankees and in the AL West between Texas and the Los Angeles Angels.

Arizona has opened up a four game lead over San Francisco in the NL West while Detroit starts the week up by a half dozen games over Chicago in the AL Central with Cleveland still in the race, a half game behind the White Sox.

While much of the sports attention begins to turn to football once the calendar hits September there will still be plenty of opportunities to cash in at the end of baseball’s regular season before the Playoffs become a whole new season with even more opportunities.

Here’s a look at four series this weekend.

Dodgers at Braves: Los Angeles took 3 of 4 when these teams met at Dodger Stadium in mid April. The OVER was 2-1-1 with the teams combined to average eight runs per game. In Don Mattingly’s first season as manager, the Dodgers have had to deal with numerous off the field issues but have gotten solid pitching from Clayton Kershaw and Hiroki Kuroda all season. The Braves will be a formidable playoff foe and have a chance to finish with the second best record in the NL.

Preferred plays:

• Dodgers as underdogs in a start by Kershaw against any Atlanta starter.

• Dodgers +125 or more in a start by Kuroda against any Atlanta starter.

• Braves -150 or less in starts by Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens or Brandon Beachy not facing Kershaw or Kuroda.

• Braves -125 or less if Hudson, Jurrjens or Beachy don’t face Kershaw or Kuroda.

• UNDER 7 or higher if Kershaw or Kuroda oppose Hudson, Jurrjens or Beachy.

• OVER 8 or lower if none of those five pitchers is involved.

D’backs at Giants: The Giants have won 8 of the 12 meetings this season. The UNDER is 7-5 with the teams averaging 7.1 runs per game. Entering this week San Francisco had scored two or fewer runs in seven of their prior 12 games, plating over three runs just four times. As August wound down the Snakes had scored at least four runs in four of their five games heading into Monday.

Preferred plays:

• Giants -160 or less in starts by Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain against any Arizona starter.

• D’backs +125 or more against Ryan Vogelsong.

• D’backs as underdogs against any other Giants starter.

• D’backs -120 or less in starts by Ian Kennedy not facing Lincecum or Cain.

• D’backs -110 or less if Daniel Hudson doesn’t face Lincecum or Cain.

• UNDER 7 or higher in matchups of Hudson, Kennedy or Josh Collmenter against Lincecum, Cain or Vogelsong.

• OVER 7 or lower if none of those six pitchers start.

White Sox at Tigers: Detroit has won seven of 12 meetings with the teams combining to average 7.8 runs per game. The OVER is 5-5 with two pushes. Detroit’s all but certain AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander became the first to 20 wins. Doug Fister and Max Scherzer give the Tigers a pretty decent trio. For Chicago Mark Buehrle and John Danks have pitched effectively and both Gavin Floyd and Jake Peavy have shown good form of late. Detroit closer Jose Valverde is 39 for 39 in save opportunities.

Preferred plays:

• White Sox +200 or more against Verlander.

• White Sox +150 against Scherzer or Fister.

• White Sox -125 or less not facing Verlander, Fister or Scherzer.

• UNDER 8 or higher in games started by Fister, Buehrle, Danks or Philip Humber.

• OVER 8 or lower in games not involving any of those four starters or Verlander.

Rangers at Red Sox: The teams meet in Boston for the first time. After sweeping the Sox in Texas in a three game series that opened the season Texas won the first of four home games last week. But following that 4-0 win by the Rangers, Boston took the remaining three games in one sided fashion, outscoring Texas 30-7. Boston has the top two starters in Josh Beckett and Jon Lester but Texas might have the next best four starters led by CJ Wilson and Alexi Ogando.

Preferred plays:

• Rangers +150 or more in any matchup.

• Red Sox -140 or lower in any matchup.

• OVER 9 or lower in any matchup not involving Beckett, Lester or Texas pitcher Matt Harrison.

• OVER 10 or lower in starts by Wilson or Derek Holland or Boston’s John Lackey or Tim Wakefield provided Beckett, Lester or Harrison are not the opposing starter.

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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