The regular season resumed last Friday following the four-day All Star break, during which the American League’s 6-3 win over the National League in last Tuesday’s All Star game in Cincinnati earned the junior circuit’s representative in this season’s World Series the home field for a potential seventh and deciding game.
With just 10 days remaining until the trading deadline there have yet to be any trades of significance. As noted in recent weeks, buyers figure to greatly outnumber sellers and as such the teams on the selling end can afford to wait as late as possible to squeeze out the best offers possibly before parting with players the buying teams hope will be the missing part, or parts, needed to advance to the post season.
The lack of trading activity makes it difficult to make intelligent forecasts as to how the season may play out and which teams will make it to the post season. But once the trade deadline has passed and teams’ rosters are set at the key positions that were addressed – or not addressed – much more meaningful revised forecasts can be made.
So if you are inclined to make a futures bet on teams to win either the League pennant or the World Series you might fare best to wait another ten days or so until the trade deadline. Unless you happen to like the Royals or the Cardinals whose records at this point strongly suggest each will make the Playoffs.
And as both the Giants and Royals showed last season, all you need to do is punch a ticket to even the Wild Card one game play-in to have a shot at winning a League pennant and making it to the seventh game of the World Series.
This season of mediocrity, or perhaps parity, continues with just two teams winning at least 60 percent of its games. Are we in store for a reprise of the controversial 1985 World Series?
Through Sunday, St. Louis had the best record in the NL (58-34), a solid 5.5 games better than the second best LA Dodgers. The Cardinals’ cross state rivals, the Kansas City Royals, lead the AL with their 55-35 record, 5 games better than the second best LA Angels.
Citizens of Missouri, the “show me” state, are asking the rest of baseball to show them which teams, if any, are better.
The Cardinals and Royals, as you would expect, have been the most profitable teams to back. Kansas City has rewarded its backers to the tune of plus 19.9 net units while Cardinal supporters are up 18.9 units. Not far behind is Minnesota at +17.4 units. No other team is up more than 8 units.
An unusually high number of 7 teams have already cost their backers more than 10 units barely 90 games into the season.
The most costly team to back has been Philadelphia. The Phillies’ woeful 32-62 record has resulted in a loss of 19.8 units – and that is even with being huge underdogs in most of their games.
Oakland’s backers are down 17.5 units and Miami’s supporters are down 15.8 units, followed by Seattle (down 14.2), Boston (13.5), Cleveland (13.3) and Milwaukee (10.7).
There have been slightly more UNDERs (658) than OVERs (633) with 76 pushes and 7 totals resulting in no decisions due to rain-shortened or suspended games. Scoring is down this season to barely more than 8 total runs per game (8.18 rpg to be precise).
Let’s enjoy what promises to be a very competitive balance of the season with every American League team starting this week within 8 games or less of at least a Wild Card and only 5 of the 15 NL teams more than 7 games out.
Here’s a look at three series to be played this weekend.
Nationals at Pirates: These teams meet for their second series this season a little over a month since Washington swept a three game home series against the Pirates, outscoring the Buccos 19-3. Aside from Nats’ ace Max Scherzer, the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole, AJ Burnett and Francisco Liriano have actually been much more effective than the rest of Washington’s rotation. Washington’s lineup is still suffering from injuries but a healthy Bryce Harper can be a difference maker with every at bat.
PLAYS: Pittsburgh as underdogs of any price or a -120 favorite in starts by Burnett, Cole or Liriano not facing Scherzer; Pittsburgh +130 against Scherzer; Washington -120 or less not opposing Burnett, Cole or Liriano; UNDER 7 or higher in any matchup.
Astros at Royals: These teams meet for their second series this season. At the end of June the Astros swept a three game home series against the Royals. KC’s starting pitching has been average at best but the bullpen is again a strength and the offense is better than last season. Houston’s offense is largely “all or nothing,” based on getting the long ball in key situations. The pitching has been solid with lefty Dallas Keuchel very much in the Cy Young Award debate. Rookie Lance McCullers Jr has also pitched well.
PLAYS: Kansas City -130 or less not facing Keuchel, McCullers or Colin McHugh; Houston +125 or more in starts by McHugh or McCullers or +115 or more in a start by Keuchel; UNDER 7.5 or higher in any matchup.
A’s at Giants: The Athletics have outscored the opposition by 53 runs, fourth best differential in the AL. Their bullpen has been a problem all season and that has cost them in close games (9-22 in 1 run games, 2-6 in extra innings). Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir have been the aces of the Oakland staff. World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner is again the Giants ace with rookie Chris Heston also enjoying a solid season.
PLAYS: Oakland -120 or less in starts by Gray or Kazmir not facing Bumgarner; Giants -130 or less in starts by Bumgarner or Heston not opposing Gray or Kazmir; UNDER 7 or higher if Gray or Kazmir opposes Bumgarner or Heston; UNDER 3.5 for the first 5 innings if such matchups have a total less than 7.
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]