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And now the calm AFTER the storm!

The trading deadline has passed and whereas some contending teams took action to strengthen their rosters and improve their chances for making the postseason others stood pat.

Most of the betting focus turns towards football as the NFL preseason got started this past Sunday with baseball regaining much of the attention as the playoffs near in late September and begin in early October.

But there are still many baseball devotees who could care less about practice football and instead concentrate on beating the books throughout the dog days of August and well into September until the rest of the wagering public again pays attention.

Baseball betting can be dangerous at this time of year as many teams in contention are often forced to lay exorbitant prices when favored against the weaker teams in the game.

We’ve already seen some $3 favorites start to show and there is no faster way to ruin than to consistently back such teams where a loss means you need three separate wins just to break even.

Of course, here’s where laying the run and a half comes into play and you might wish to refer the discussion on the subject in recent issues.

Were the playoffs to be based on the standings through last Sunday, the National League Division winners would be Washington, Cincinnati and San Francisco with Atlanta and Pittsburgh controlling the two Wild Cards.

The Giants’ lead in the NL West is just a half game over the Los Angeles Dodgers with Arizona just four games behind the G-men. St Louis actually is first team out in the Wild Card race, trailing the Pirates by just 2½ games for the second wild card, a half-game ahead of the Dodgers.

The Diamondbacks are 6½ games out of the second wild card. The only other NL team within 10 games of the wild card is the New York Mets, trailing by nine.

In the AL the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Texas are the division leaders with Detroit and Oakland in control of the two wild card spots. The Los Angeles Angels have slipped behind Oakland into third place in the AL West and are a half game out of the wild card, just a half game better than Baltimore.

A total of seven teams are within eight games of the AL wild cards with only Kansas City and Minnesota out of contention, 11 or more games back.

Given the many teams still in contention there will be many series involving two such teams, especially in the NL.

So while the dawn of a new football season will draw most of the spotlight in coming weeks, baseball still has plenty of excitement in store.

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

Braves at Mets: The home team has won eight of nine, including a three game sweep by the Braves coming out of the All Star break. Atlanta has needed a patchwork starting rotation with their best starter, Brandon Beachy, out for the season and currently Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens on the DL. They’ve been buoyed by the first few efforts from veteran Ben Sheets and young Kris Medlen and acquired veteran lefty Paul Maholm from the Cubs at the deadline.

The Mets’ first half success was keyed by outstanding efforts from R A Dickey and a fine comeback from Johan Santana. Dickey has tailed off since the All Star break and Santana is due to come off the DL in time for this series. The Braves have been just as productive offensively on the road as they’ve been at home. Mets averaging almost a full run more per game on the road.

Potential plays:

• Braves +115 or more against Dickey or rookie Matt Harvey.

• Braves as underdogs of any price against any other New York starters.

• Mets +150 or more in any matchup.

• UNDER 9 or higher in any matchup.

• UNDER 8 or higher if Medlen or Sheets opposes Dickey, Harvey or Jon Niese.

Nationals at D’backs: In their only prior series this season, Washington took 2 of 3 home games from Arizona back in early May. Washington’s strength remains starting pitching. All 5 regular starters have ERAs below 3.60 with WHIPs under 1.25. Arizona lefty Wade Miley has been their most consistent Arizona pitcher. Ian Kennedy, has started to pitch more as he did in 2011. Joe Saunders and Trevor Cahill have been decent.

Potential plays:

• Nationals +120 or more in any matchup.

• Nationals -125 or less in starts by Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann or Gio Gonzalez not facing Miley or Kennedy.

• D’backs +140 or more in any matchup.

• OVER 8 or lower in any matchup.

Tigers at Rangers: Texas has won five of seven meetings this season. Both teams added to their starting rotations at the trade deadline although neither the Tigers’ Anibal Sanchez nor the Rangers’ Ryan Dempster was impressive in their initial starts for the new teams. Detroit’s Justin Verlander is by far the best starter on either staff and both teams rely more on their offense than their pitching for their success.

Potential plays:

Rangers -130 or less not facing Verlander in starts by Yu Darvish or Matt Harrison.

Tigers -140 or less in a start by Verlander against any Texas starter.

• OVER 10 or lower in any matchup not involving Verlander or Harrison.

• UNDER 9 or higher in a start by Verlander or Harrison.

Athletics at White Sox: In their only prior series this season Oakland won 2 of 3 games at home in late April. Both teams derive their success from solid starting pitching although both lineups have been more productive over the past month or so than they were during the spring.

Potential plays:

• Athletics +140 or more in any matchup.

• White Sox -125 or less in any matchup.

• UNDER 8 or higher in any matchup not involving Chicago’s Philip Humber.

• OVER 8 or lower in a start by Humber not facing Oakland’s Bartolo Colon.





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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