There’s more than a month remaining before the July 31 trading deadline but with teams having now played more than 60 games the focus of management turns to determining whether to be a buyer or seller of talent.
With last season’s addition of an extra Wild Card team in each league a total of 10 teams will qualify for post season play rather than just 8. The two Wild Cards in each league will meet in a one game winner-take-all contest to advance to the League Divisional Series.
That said, there are two more teams that will have a chance to win the World Series, which could delay teams’ trading deadline decisions if management deems it likely that their charges will be able to contend deep into September if perhaps one or two moves can be made to strengthen the roster.
We know several teams that almost certainly will not be in contention at the trading deadline, including the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets.
The Marlins are considered to be neck and neck with the Houston Astros as the worst team in baseball. And based on the current records Miami (18-44) does hold that dubious distinction with Houston 22-42.
The Mets’ began play in 1962 and their first manager, Casey Stengel, used the term “Amazing” to describe that team that went on to post a 40-120 record in their debut season.
More than 50 years later the appellation still applies for it truly takes an amazing team to accomplish what the Mets have accomplished this season. They lost two extra inning games at home this past weekend to Miami, in 20 innings and in 10 innings. They’ve now lost 5 in a row to the worst team in baseball and for the season the Mets are 3-8 against the Fish.
Put another way, Miami is 8-3 against the Mets and 10-41 against the rest of baseball. Truly amazing!
Teams have roughly 100 games remaining and through the first two months or so of the season 10 teams – one third of MLB – have shown profits or losses of 10 units or more.
The most extreme action has been in the AL West where four of the five teams are among that group. Texas backers are up 16.6 units of profit this season and backers of Oakland are up 10.9 units.
Baseball’s worst bet this season has been the Angels. The Halos have cost their backers 20.3 units in just 63 games! Seattle is down 10.1 units.
Only Houston – with the second worst record in baseball – has been relatively close to neutral, costing backers just 3.6 units despite being 20 games below .500. That’s because the Astros are often huge underdogs of plus 200 or more, as they were in all but one of their recent six game winning streak.
The other “extreme” losers are Miami (down 16.6 units), the Mets (down 13.7 units), Milwaukee (down 15.1 units) and the Dodgers (down 16.4 units). The other two “extreme” profits belong to backers of Pittsburgh (up 14.2 units) and St. Louis (up 12.4 units). Atlanta just misses this list with its 9.8 net units of profit.
Here’s a look at four series to be played this weekend.
Dodgers at Pirates: In their only prior meeting this season the Dodgers swept the Pirates in a three game series at home in early April, outscoring the Bucs 10-2 with two of the three games staying UNDER the Total. The Pirates have been a pleasant surprise as they seek their first winning record since 1992.
Relying on solid pitching and a rather mediocre offense, the Pirates started the week tied with Cincinnati for the third best record in the NL. The Dodgers have been a major disappointment although the call up last week of Yasiel Puig has infused the Dodgers with some much needed energy.
Puig went 13 for 28 (.464) in his first week in the majors with 4 home runs and 10 RBI in addition to several outstanding defensive plays. Part of the explanation for the Dodgers’ poor play can be attributed to an above average number of injuries to key players, including several of their starting pitchers.
This has the makings of a low scoring series with Pittsburgh having played 22 UNDERs and just 10 OVERs at home this season.
Plays: UNDER 7.5 or higher in any match-up; Pirates + 140 or more against Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke or HJ Ryu; Dodgers -125 or less in starts by any of those 3; Pirates -125 or less in starts by Francisco Liriano or AJ Burnett not facing Kershaw, Greinke or Ryu.
Giants at Braves: The Giants took three of four games from Atlanta when hosing the Braves in mid May. San Francisco out-scored the Braves 26 to 10 as three of the four games went OVER the Total. Atlanta has baseball’s best home record, 21-7, and has been the most profitable home team this season at plus 10.6 net units.
The Braves have used only 5 starters all season and in 32 of their 63 games their starter has gone at least 6 innings while allowing 2 earned runs or less. None is putting up “lights out” stats and only Kris Medlen is showing a net loss for the season.
The Giants’ starting pitching has been below expectations with both Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner performing below established levels. No team is allowing more than the 5.4 runs per game allowed by the Giants on the road.
Plays: Braves -140 or less in any match-up; Giants +150 or more in starts by Cain or Bumgarner against any Atlanta starter; OVER 7 or lower in any match-up.
Red Sox at Orioles: This four game series starts on Thursday. In their only earlier meeting this season Baltimore won two of three games in Boston with two of the three staying UNDER the Total. These are two of baseball’s most potent offenses as each is averaging 5 runs per game both at home and on the road.
Boston has a decided edge in starting pitching with Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and John Lackey enjoying strong first halves of the season. In part that can be attributed to new manager John Farrell and his excellent work as pitching coach under Terry Francona.
Injuries and ineffectiveness have resulted in Baltimore using 11 different starters thus far. Chris Tillman and the injured W Y Chen have performed best but both have been barely average.
Plays: Red Sox as underdogs or at -125 or less in starts by Buchholz. Lackey or Lester against any Baltimore starter; Orioles +125 or more against Buchholz, Lackey or Lester or as underdogs of any price against other Boston starters; OVER 8 or less in any match-up.
Yanks at Angels: The teams are meeting for the first time. The Yankees have been one of the most overachieving teams in all of baseball this season considering the injuries that have sidelined many of their expected key contributors.
The Angels have been one of the most disappointing teams to date and failed to capitalize on a recent 8 game winning streak that seemed to turn their season around. After splitting four games with the Dodgers, the Angels have dropped 7 of 9 to stand 27-36, 10½ games out of first place in the AL West.
By contrast, the Yankees are 37-26 and just a game and a half behind Boston in the AL East. Both offenses have been at or below average for much of the season. The Yankees have actually been more productive on the road (4.3 runs per game) than at home (3.7).
The Angels are more balanced and slightly better at home (4.5) than on the road (4.3). The Yankees have gotten the better overall pitching and are third best in the majors in allowing just 3.4 runs per game on the road.
Plays: Yankees -125 or less in starts by CC Sabathia or Hiroki Kuroda against any Angels starter. Yankees +110 or more underdogs in starts not by Sabathia or Kuroda and not facing Jered Weaver or Jason Vargas; Angels -140 or less in a start by Weaver or Vargas not facing Sabathia or Kuroda; UNDER 7 or less if Sabathia or Kuroda opposes Weaver or Vargas; OVER 8 or less if none of those four starters is involved.
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]