Need 40 to rate Atlanta Braves, not Miami Marlins

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Two weeks into the season and we’ve already witnessed several lengthy streaks, both winning and losing, that can often shape the prospects for such teams going forward, especially if those teams are surprises.

On the winning side of the ledger the Atlanta Braves start this week having won 9 straight games, including a weekend road sweep of NL East Divisional rival Washington.

In the American League Oakland had its 9 game winning streak snapped this past Saturday by Detroit. And as so often happens when such a lengthy streak ends a similar result happens in that team’s very next game. Sure enough, Oakland lost again the very next day, Sunday, also to Detroit.

Thus you might wish to consider a play against Atlanta in the game that follows the end of Atlanta’s current winning streak.

Two teams have already endured 6 game losing streaks. Houston followed its initial win that ended the streak with another win, cashing as +150 underdogs last Wednesday at Seattle. However after Miami ended its 6 game losing streak with a 2-1 win over Philadelphia last Saturday, the Marlins returned to their losing ways with a 2-1 loss on Sunday – but did so as underdogs.

Six games in baseball is a reasonable number to use in identifying significant streaks for this purpose. It generally represents a full week’s worth of wins or losses. Some handicappers might suggest 10 games as a stronger indicator of a lengthy streak as this would mean two times through the typical starting rotation without either a loss or a win, depending on the direction of the streak.

Atlanta has the best record in baseball at 11-1 with four of their five starters off to outstanding starts. Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen, Paul Maholm and Mike Minor each have ERAs of 2.50 or less, WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) below 1.30 while averaging at least 6 innings per start.

The weak link has been rookie Julio Teheran (7.36 ERA and 1.64 WHIP) but the Braves have won both of his two starts! The Braves lead all of MLB with their plus 39 runs differential, a testament to the contributions of both their lineup and their pitching and supportive of such an outstanding early record.

Two teams expected to contend – Toronto and the Los Angeles Angels – have losing records two weeks into the season. It’s way too early to be even remotely concerned. Usually it takes about 40 games (a quarter of the season) before reasonable assessments can be made about a team’s prospects.

One team that was expected to be a bottom feeder that has played to those low expectations is Miami. The Marlins have started 2-10 and although they’ve gotten decent pitching (allowing just 3.7 runs per game) the offense has been abysmal.

Through their first dozen games the Marlins have scored a total of just 20 runs, having been shut out in four games. It will not take 40 games to make an accurate assessment of the Fish.

With such a low scoring offense, weakened with the current absence over the weekend of their best player, Giancarlo Stanton, many bettors are considering betting against the Marlins on the run line, laying a run and a half, until Miami shows some sort of offensive punch.

In coming weeks the subject of playing the run line will be explored in some depth as this form of baseball wagering can be used effectively in turning favorites into underdogs or increasing the chances of cashing a ticket with an underdog expected to be involved in a low scoring game.

As we’ve done for several years, a comparison between laying and taking the 1½ will be discussed and dissected.

Here’s a look at four interesting series to be played this weekend.

Nationals at Mets: The Mets are off to a surprising 7-4 start and have baseball’s third best runs differential (+24) through Sunday. Washington had been 7-2 before being swept at home over the weekend by red hot Atlanta.

The Nationals have the deeper starting rotation although the Mets’ Matt Harvey is as highly thought of as Washington’s Stephen Strasburg. Washington remains the better team overall but with this series being played in New York we should see competitively priced games.

Recommended plays:

• Mets +130 or more against Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez or Jordan Zimmerman.

• Mets – 110 or less, or underdogs, in a start by Harvey against that trio.

• Mets – 130 or less in a start by Harvey against other Washington starters.

• UNDER 8 or higher in any matchup.

• UNDER 7 or less if Harvey opposes Strasburg, Gonzalez or Zimmermann.

D’backs at Rockies: Both teams are off to winning starts on the young season with both teams averaging more than 5 runs per game. Both teams have gotten better than expected pitching with Arizona having the more formidable rotation.

Of course the pitchers are just 2 or 3 starts into the season so the early results cannot be reliable predictors but if either of these teams gets solid pitching the Giants and Dodgers could have a surprise challenger in the NL West.

The Rockies have only played 3 home games thus far and all three stayed UNDER the Total. But those games were against light hitting San Diego. Fundamentally both of these teams have better offenses than pitching and we should see runs aplenty.

Recommended plays:

• OVER 11 or lower in any matchup.

• D’backs as underdogs of any price in starts by Wade Miley, Ian Kennedy or Patrick Corbin.

• Rockies – 125 or less in a start by Jhollys Chacin against any Arizona starter.

Tigers at Angels: Both teams are expected to contend for the Playoffs but the Angels have gotten off to a second straight slow start following major off season acquisitions. Starting the week the Angels were tied with Minnesota for the worst runs differential in the American League (minus 18) due both to an underperforming offense and pitching that has been sub par.

Detroit has scored the second most runs in the AL including scoring at least 6 runs in 7 of its last 9 games. The Tigers have a solid starting rotation that has great depth while the Angels are shorthanded with ace Jered Weaver injured and expected out for at least another month.

Recommended plays:

• Tigers as underdogs of any price in any game.

• Tigers – 140 or less in a start by ace Justin Verlander.

• Angels +120 or more not facing Verlander.

• OVER 8 or lower in games not started by Verlander, Max Scherzer or Doug Fister.

Dodgers at Orioles: Baltimore is looking to follow up on last season’s sudden rise to the Playoffs following a 15 season absence. The Dodgers are hoping to justify their high payroll designed to improve both their offense and their pitching staff. Of course the Dodgers will be without starter Zack Greinke for several months but still have a formidable rotation with perhaps the best lefty in all of baseball, Clayton Kershaw.

No starter has an early season ERA above 3.50. Baltimore is more reliant on its offense than its pitching although some of their young starters, such as Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, appear on the verge of breakout seasons. Even with the Dodgers’ fine pitching, this still shapes up as a high scoring season, although the Dodgers’ offense has yet to gel and is averaging below 3 runs per game through Sunday.

Recommended plays:

• Dodgers – 150 or less in a start by Kershaw.

• Dodgers as underdogs of any price in a start by Josh Beckett.

• Orioles as underdogs or up to – 125 favorites not facing Kershaw or Beckett.

• OVER 8.5 or lower in any matchup not involving Kershaw or Beckett.

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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