Pretty soon we’ll have our eyes on the NFL come Sunday mornings.
The regular season is getting close, and with the way sports have taken an odd turn in 2020 with the possibility of absolutely no college football, it seems safe to assume this is one of the most anticipated NFL seasons in recent history, if not all time.
But I implore you not to be so quick to turn away from baseball — especially on the day which weekends end. Sunday can be an important day on the diamond for bettors.
Most times it’s marking the end of a series. It also can bring an end to a road trip or is the finale of a homestand — both big for the teams in those roles. If a home team has lost the first two or three games of a series, it’s a chance to end the skid with a win and head into the new week on a positive note. If a road team has been struggling after stops in multiple cities, it may have the bags packed and have one foot out of the clubhouse, ready to board a plane and get home.
Believe me, I consider playing on Sunday a huge intangible when handicapping games. It’s usually about this time of the season (30 games in) I begin tracking teams and how they play on Sundays. Of course I’m generally a month and a half in, not halfway through the season.
But COVID-19 season and all, I still want to know how home teams have fared this year. I want to know how each team did on the road and I want to know how each team has been doing in their own stadium.
And right on schedule, the home team has improved dramatically after the first five Sundays of this abbreviated season.
After a 4-11 showing on July 26, and 6-7 mark on Aug. 2, the home teams are a combined 28-15 over the last three Sundays. This past week was the best showing, as hosts went 11-3 against their guests.
Five teams have yet to lose at home on Sundays: Tampa Bay (3-0), Oakland (3-0), the New York Yankees (2-0), Colorado (2-0) and Milwaukee (1-0). On the other hand, there are five that haven’t won at home on Sunday this season: Detroit (0-3), the Los Angeles Angels (0-2), Florida (0-1), Cincinnati (0-1) and Toronto, which is playing its home games in Buffalo (0-1).
Teams that have proven to be dangerous on the road on Sunday are the Braves (4-0) and Tigers (3-0). Five other teams are either 1-0 or 2-0.
Overall, Oakland (5-0) is the only team that hasn’t lost on Sunday. Other teams that have done well to close out the weekend are Tampa Bay (4-1), Atlanta (5-1), the L.A. Dodgers (4-1), Minnesota (4-1), Baltimore (4-1), Cubs (3-1) and the Yankees (3-1). The Angels (0-5) and Blue Jays (0-4) are the only teams without a win on Sunday.
Keep an eye on the teams I’ve mentioned, and factor them into your handicapping as the season progresses.
Now 8-5 with my complimentary winners after going 1-2 last week, my first sub-.500 showing since the start of the campaign.
Phillies at Nationals: The Nationals are sure to lay a hefty price with Max Scherzer scheduled to oppose Spencer Howard. But since Scherzer was 2-1 in three starts vs. Philly with a 2.50 ERA last season, I have no problem laying the spread in this game. NATIONALS RUN LINE
Dodgers at Giants: It’s the series finale for these N.L. West rivals. And though it’s likely the Giants could be staving off a three-game sweep, the Dodgers are off to visit the Rangers afterward. L.A. is closing this three-game set looking for momentum. DODGERS
Athletics at Astros: I’m going to challenge my column’s theory and put it to the test this week as all good things must come to an end. Oakland brings that overall 5-0 mark to Houston, which is 2-3 on Sundays. The Astros are 1-1 at home on Sundays, and this is a revenge series for the ‘Stros, who were swept in Oaktown earlier this month. ASTROS
Last week: 1-2