MLB races head for home

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With approximately 120 games played, 75 percent of the baseball season is in the books. We round third base and make a play for home plate with some very exciting situations. 

The American League is very interesting. If the season ended today, last year’s World Series Champs, the Boston Red Sox, wouldn’t make the postseason. They sit in third place in the AL East behind New York and Tampa Bay. The combination of problems of winning at Fenway Park and pitching woes have taken its toll on Boston. 

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This season’s most pleasant surprise, the Minnesota Twins, are now a half-game behind the Cleveland Indians in the Central. Then there’s the West, where the Houston Astros reign supreme. 

The National League is equally interesting. The Atlanta Braves have played the most consistent ball in the East, leading a tight race for second place between the Washington Nationals, New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies. While the Braves have a 6.5-game lead, just 2.5 games separate the Nationals, Mets, and Phillies. 

The Central is a dogfight between the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers. But in taking a look at this division, none of the teams own a winning road record which will hurt come the playoffs. 

The biggest division lead in all of baseball is in the NL West where the Los Angeles Dodgers have a 19-game cushion.      

I feel the AL is up for grabs, although I give the Yankees my nod as the team to beat. The NL is looking like the Dodgers are unbeatable, but I wouldn’t count out the Braves just yet. 

Here are this week’s Best Bets (all records, stats, and trends are as of Tuesday and may change as can starting pitchers).

Wednesday 

Red Sox at Indians: Don’t look now, but as of Tuesday morning, the Cleveland Indians were in first place in the AL Central at 72-47. The Indians are red-hot, as they own a 36-15 record the last 51 games played overall. 

They host a Boston team that has cooled down, dropping 11 of the last 14 outings. The Bosox are 16.0 GB for in the AL East and 7.5 GB for a WC spot.  

The Cleveland offense has come alive. But when you own the Major League’s third-ranked pitching staff with a Team ERA of 3.65 this time of year, you pile on the W’s. 

What worried Boston fans in the opening months of the season, has now become an issue again. The Red Sox pitching has been a nightmare, ranking 21st, with a Team ERA of 4.81. 

As of Monday, there was no official starter named for Wednesday. However, with David Price on the 10-day injured list, it looks to be Brian Johnson on the hill. The left-hander owns a 1-1 record with an ERA of 7.32. “BJ” has been activated once again and has not won a game in his four starts this season, not making it past 5.0 IP. 

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Shane Bieber gets the nod at home. The RH has a 12-4 record with a 3.28 ERA in 2019, fanning 193 hitters in 156.1 IP. The sophomore pitcher has shown incredible control, walking just 32 batters and won his only start vs. the Red Sox this season. If Johnson does not go, I still feel the Indians with Bieber on the mound at home is the play. INDIANS

Cardinals at Royals: St. Louis is playing very good baseball, winning three in a row, sitting just 2.0 GB in the NL Central, and own a WC spot. The Cardinals are one of baseball’s most experienced and savvy teams. It seems that just about every season, they are competing for the division title as well as the pennant. 

They go into Kauffman Stadium and play a Royals team that had low expectations for the season, yet still underachieved. Kansas City dwells in 4th place in the AL Central, 28.5 GB, and is equally bad at home as on the road (23-35 H, 20-41 R). The team ranks near the bottom in just about every major offensive (25th 4.38 RPG) and pitching (24th Team ERA of 5.00) categories. 

Brad Keller takes the bump here. The right-hander owns a 7-12 record with an ERA of 4.09, and only has 112 K’s in 152.0 IP. The 24-year old has lost three consecutive turns. 

The Cardinals send Dakota Hudson to the mound on the road. The righty, after four straight wins, is just 0-2 in his last three starts, en route to a 10-6 record with an ERA of 4.01. But facing the Royals lineup will remedy this.  This line is going to be a bit higher than I normally lay so take the run and a half. CARDINALS RUN LINE

Last week: 2-1

Season: 28-20

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