What a difference a week makes – 168 little hours.
Although Dinah Washington and others popularized a song about a period one-seventh as long, at certain points in a baseball season a week can seem almost as short as a day.
And over the past week the baseball landscape has seen some significant shifts in the standings that could impact the teams many have expected to waltz into the Playoffs come October.
The two biggest changes over the past week involve the two teams that made the biggest splashes at the trade deadline, Detroit and Oakland.
A week ago, after the dust had settled following Detroit’s huge trade for Tampa Bay ace David Price, the Tigers had built a 5 game lead over Detroit in the AL Central, solidifying their position not only as the top team in that Division but also validating their status as one of the favorites to win the AL pennant.
But the Detroit bullpen has been an issue all season and that phase of the game contributed to some tough losses over the next seven days.
During the week the Kansas City Royals, thought by some to be Wild Card contenders at best, began to play their best baseball of the season, won all six games played this past week to enter this week on a seven game win streak. The Royals start this week just a half game behind Detroit and in control of the second AL Wild Card.
Oakland’s lead in the AL West increased from just a single game over the LA Angels to four games, largely due to the Angels’ poor play following last Monday’s win over the neighboring Dodgers.
After struggling in the first few games after trading power hitting Yoenes Cespedes to Boston to acquire lefty ace Jon Lester, Oakland’s offense has picked up a bit although it must be noted the Athletics were yet to take their Cespedes-less lineup on the road since the trade.
The first road test for Oakland’s bats came Monday night when the A’s began a four game series in, of all places, red hot Kansas City.
In the AL East Division, Baltimore extended its lead to five games over second place Toronto. At 35-24 the Orioles have the best road record in the AL. The ability to win on the road is often a key signal to post season success.
Here’s a look at four key series this weekend.
Pirates at Nats
In their only prior meetings this season the Pirates won three of four games at home against the Nationals in late May. Washington has the deeper starting rotation with Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmermann and young Tanner Roark all enjoying strong seasons.
Plays: Pittsburgh +120 or more in starts by Vance Worley or Francisco Liriano; Washington -140 or less with any starter against other than Liriano or Worley. UNDER 7.5 or higher in any matchup.
Brewers at Dodgers
Their only prior meeting this season took place in Milwaukee this past weekend with the Brewers winning twice. The Brewers are paced by Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse with Wily Peralta also developing nicely.
Zack Greinke and H J Ryu form a nice duo after Clayton Kershaw, and playing at home should be an edge for Dodgers that gives them a good chance of winning at least 2 of 3 in this quick rematch.
Plays: Milwaukee +130 or more against Greinke or Ryu; Milwaukee -120 or less (or underdogs) in starts by Gallardo, Lohse or Peralta against other than Kershaw, Greinke or Ryu; UNDER 7½ or higher in starts not involving Dan Haren, Correia, or Milwaukee starters other than Gallardo, Lohse or Peralta.
Mariners at Tigers
Seattle won 2 of the 3 games played earlier this season at home. Seattle’s rotation is led by Felix Hernandez and Hishashi Iwakuma. Detroit has been led by Max Scherzer, the newly acquired David Price, Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello.
Plays: Seattle +130 or more in starts by Hernandez or Iwakuma against any Detroit starter; Detroit -130 or less with any starter against other than Hernandez or Iwakuma; UNDER 7.5 or higher in starts by Hernandez or Iwakuma against any Detroit starter; UNDER 8½ or higher with any Detroit starter against other than Hernandez or Iwakuma.
A’s at Braves
Oakland greatly bolstered its rotation, which already included Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, with July trades for Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester, giving up some power in the process (Yoenis Cespedes). Atlanta’s rotation has been paced by Alex Wood, Julio Teheran and Ervin Santana with only young lefthander Mike Minor struggling.
Plays: Oakland +120 or more in any matchup; Oakland -125 or less in starts by Gray, Samardzija or Lester not facing Teheran or Wood; Atlanta +125 or more with any starter other than Minor against any Oakland starter; UNDER 7 or higher in any matchup of Gray, Kazmir, Lester or Samardzija opposing Santana, Teheran or Wood. At totals of 6 or 6.5 the play is one half unit on UNDER first 5 innings and one half unit on UNDER 6 or 6.5 for the full game.
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]