Here’s the Latest on the Races in Major League Baseball



Buck Showalter has his Orioles just days away from an East Division title.

With about 14-15 games to go in the regular season of Major League Baseball, there are races that are just about to end and some that are about as close as they can get. Here’s a look at where we stand and who I like for the MVPs as well.


The surprising Baltimore Orioles have their magic number down to just three games as I write this and will clinch their first division championship since 1997 and have not won a pennant since 1983.

Toronto and New York are four and five games respectively out of a wild-card berth and unless something drastic happens neither will make the postseason. An unfortunate end to a great career for the Yankees’ Derek Jeter.


The Tigers swept the Cleveland Indians over the weekend to essentially knock them out of it. Detroit now has a 1.5 games lead over Kansas City who currently has a wild-card struggle with the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners.

The Royals and Tigers will meet for three more games later this week in Kansas City and each still have series’ left with Cleveland and the White Sox.


The LA Angels had their ten-game winning streak snapped Sunday but they lead the division by an amazing 10 games over Oakland. The A’s and Mariners are both still well alive for wild-card berths with only the Detroit/KC loser perhaps being a factor. Whether the Mariners make the postseason or not, Manager Lloyd McClendon should garner serious consideration for Manager of the Year honors. 

AL Picks: Orioles, Tigers, Angels. WCs Royals and A’s.

AL Pennant: Angels


I'm not at all surprised that Williams has the Nationals on the verge of a division title.


The Washington Nationals ran away and hid with this division in the second half of the season and currently lead the Atlanta Braves by 10.5 games. The Braves are currently four games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates for the final wild-card spot.

NL Central

Milwaukee has had a rough second half of the season and has dropped to third in the division. St. Louis currently leads the Pirates by 3.5 games for the division lead. Pittsburgh and St. Louis will not see each other anymore down the stretch.

The Brewers can control their own destiny with series against both St. Louis and Pittsburgh in the final 15 games.


The San Francisco Giants have hung tougher than I thought they would with their rivals to the south. The LA Dodgers have a three game lead over the Giants and will entertain them for three more games next week.

At this time, San Francisco would need a major collapse to miss out on the playoffs altogether.

NL Picks: Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers. WCs Pirates and Giants.

NL Pennant: Nationals


I’ll start in the National League where there shouldn’t even be a vote. Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw will run away with the Cy Young Award and should also take the MVP prize as well.

On Sunday, he picked up his 19th win and gave up just two runs. Amazingly, his ERA actually went up to 1.70 for the season. Others in the discussion would include Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, Giancarlo Stanton of Miami and Jonathan Lucroy of the Brewers.

This is Kershaw’s year though.

In the junior circuit, the competition might be just as poor with Mike Trout on the cusp of finally getting the MVP Award after finishing twice behind Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera.

There are cases to be made for Oakland’s Josh Donaldson or Kansas City’s Alex Gordon but I don’t know how anyone catches Trout who deserves the award as much as anyone in recent memory.

Richard Sherman Speaks the Truth and the MLB Races Have About a Month to Go

Even if you don't like Richard Sherman you have to appreciate his honesty.

Seattle Seahawks’ cornerback Richard Sherman is a lightning rod plain and simple. If you took  a survey of 100 football fans you’d probably get half that love him and half that hate him but I like Sherman for one reason; he speaks his mind.

Sherman did just that when he basically became the first active player to say what I’ve been saying for years now about the direction of the National Football League. In a Sunday Night Football interview with NBC’s Josh Elliott Sherman was asked about all the penalties on defensive backs this preseason. His response:

all the illegal contact calls this preseason were due to the NFL feeling the pressure from advertisers and sponsors. “When the fantasy football numbers need to be what they need to be, then the league needs to do what it needs to do to get it done,” Sherman said. “This is a money-driven league, so whatever sells the tickets is gonna sell the tickets.”

There it is. Finally a player has said what all of us have pretty much known for years. The whole ‘player safety’ issue was actually just an attempt to limit the defense so offenses could score more points. The NFL masked it with the whole concussion lawsuit. I’m all for making the game safer but let’s be real too.

More offense means more fantasy points which means more fantasy players which means more people watching the NFL. Fantasy football owners don’t want to see 10-7 games. The horror!!!!

I appreciate Sherman being himself and supporting what we all know to be true. Unfortunately it won’t do anything to slow down this machine that Roger Goodell has created. Get ready to see more scoring and more offensive numbers skyrocketing out of sight.

Manager Buck Showalter has the Orioles firmly in first place in the AL East.

Baseball Has About a Month to Go

Most  Major League Baseball teams have about 30 games to go and some of the races are fulfilling the promise I have had all season long.

Starting in the American League, the East Division has seen Baltimore quietly take a six-game lead over the New York Yankees. Toronto is eight back and Tampa Bay is 10 games back.

In the Central, the incredibly hot Kansas City Royals lead the injury-riddled Detroit Tigers by two games. Hovering in the distance are the Cleveland Indians who are six games back. The Royals have won seven of ten and continue to be among the best teams in baseball since the All-Star Break.

In the AL West, the LA Angels have a one game lead over the Oakland A’s after beating the A’s last night. Seattle is lurking at six games back but their eyes on the wild-card. Currently, the wild-cards are Oakland and the Mariners with the Tigers just a game back. New York is three and a half back.

In the senior circuit, the NL East has seen a once close race fall apart. The Washington Nationals have won nine of ten and have a commanding eight game lead over the Atlanta Braves.

The NL Central has seen some separation with the Milwaukee Brewers hanging on to a 1.5 game lead over St. Louis. Pittsburgh has fallen off the pace however and is now five full games behind the Brewers following a streak where the Pirates have won just three of ten.

The NL West is a two-team race. The LA Dodgers have a 4.5 game lead of rival San Francisco. San Diego has dropped to 12.5 games back. The Giants and Dodgers have six games remaining against each other with three each at home.

The National League Wild-Card is much more exciting. The Cards and Giants hold the two spots right now but Atlanta (1GB), Pittsburgh (1.5GB) and the Marlins (4GB) are within shouting distance.

Odds for National League Division Winners

Bryce Harper has returned just in time because the Braves have caught the Nationals in the East.

A few days back I gave you the latest odds on American League Division Winners from our friends at Bovada. Today I’m providing you the latest odds for the senior circuit, known to you youngsters as the National League.

NL East

Washington -180 – Despite a four-game winning streak, the Nationals have been caught by nemesis Atlanta who is streaking themselves right now. The Nationals have a little more staying power because of their overall balance between hitting and pitching. The return of Bryce Harper will help as well.

Atlanta +150 – At the start of the play today, the Braves are a half game up on the Nationals and that’s been due in large part to a six-game winning streak and 8-2 stretch over their last ten. The pitching is just fine as they rank third in the NL, but they need to get the batting going more consistently. I expect the Braves and Nationals to take this down to the wire.

Miami +2,000 – The Marlins continue to be a surprising story in 2014 because most thought they’d be bringing up the rear in the East. They’re just 5.5 games back right now even though they’ve gone just 3-7 in their last ten. The question will be whether they will make moves towards the end of July to better themselves for a wild-card run or will they dump players to get more talent for the future?

NY Mets +3,300 – The Mets have lost three-straight and are nine games back of the Braves. Not an impossible task, but a highly unlikely one to be sure.

Philadelphia +3,300 – The Phillies are only a half-game worse than the Mets but I don’t see any way you’d lay money on this team as they are currently constructed.

Can Ryan Braun and the Brewers hang on in the NL Central?

NL Central

Milwaukee -130 – The best record in the NL continues to reside in Milwaukee where the Brew Crew have a 6.5 game lead over St. Louis in the Central. The Brewers continue to ride great hitting which is over-coming fairly sub-par pitching. I think they’ll have enough to get into the playoffs but whether that’s as a division champ or not is uncertain.

St. Louis +160 – The Cardinals are almost dead-last in the NL in batting which just isn’t going to get things down if they plan to catch the Brewers. The pitching is fifth in the National League but cannot get worse if they plan to get into the playoffs.

Cincinnati +650 – The Reds have gone 7-3 in their last ten games but they remain seven games back in the Central. They are middle of the road in both batting and pitching and they just don’t seem to be able to gain ground on the Brewers.

Pittsburgh +1,200 – The Pirates have gone 8-2 in their last ten to tie the Reds for third-place in the Central. They recently sent closer Jason Grilli to the Angels in an effort to shake things up and it seems to be working. Will the frugal spending Pirates make a move though to improve?

Chicago Cubs +20,000 – Ummm, moving on.

NL West

LA Dodgers -180 – The Dodgers have closed to within a half-game of the division leading Giants and I think that is a trend that will continue for the rest of the season. LA is third in batting and second in pitching and I have a hard time seeing them finishing anywhere but first.

San Francisco +110 – The Giants have gone 4-6 in their last ten and will likely see their division lead gone as the Dodgers keep piling on wins.

Colorado +6,600 – No

Arizona +25,000 – No

San Diego +25,000 – And no.

If you want a sure winner, take the West and the Dodgers. If you are looking for a long-shot, take the Pirates or Marlins.

MLB Predictions for 2014

Max Scherzer has put his contract talks on the back burner as he looks to defend is Cy Young title.

I guess the 2014 Major League Baseball season actually started last week wen the Dodgers took two from the Diamondbacks down in Australia but I certainly don’t recognize that and I’m guessing you don’t either. If Major League Baseball wants to really get the fans involved then they’d do more to make Opening Day a bigger deal.

Last night was technically opening day in the US and the game again featured the Dodgers. Today, is the real Opening Day as it always should have been. Here is my take on the upcoming season.

American League

The Boston Red Sox are your defending World Series Champions and their defense will be anything but easy. Within their own division, the rival Yankees have restocked by pilfering Jacoby Ellsbury from them. The Tampa Bay Rays will be just as much of a threat in the East and I believe this is your division winner with one exception.

If the injury bug hits Evan Longoria and others again then the Rays will suffer. Otherwise, I like them to win the division. Both Boston and New York will vie for the wild-card spots and very likely could grab both but New York has health issues too that could cost them.

In the Central, the Detroit Tigers should again win the division yet I expect it to be another struggle to put away both Cleveland and rising Kansas City. Although the Tigers said goodbye to Prince Fielder, the line-up should remain strong and so too should the pitching staff. Kansas City will again be better and I believe will be a threat to both the Tigers and the AL wild-card race.

Cleveland has been able to hang around a bit in recent years and should do so again but I still anticipate a two, if not one, team race in the American League Central Division.

The West should be better overall with the additions that have happened in Seattle, but I still expect the Oakland A’s to take the division behind really good hitting and perhaps even better pitching. Texas will be a threat as they welcome Fielder to the line-up but how far can the pitching take them?

The Angels will have to be better in the pitching department in order to be a factor in the West. The offense will ride with Mike Trout but will Albert Puljos and Josh Hamilton be able to stay healthy for a full season?

AL Predictions: East – Rays, Central – Tigers, West – A’s, Wild-Cards Red Sox, Royals, AL Champs – A’s

National League

The NL East still runs through Atlanta until the Washington Nationals can prove that they can knock the Braves from their perch. I expect that this division will be a dogfight all season long and I expect that it goes down to the wire between these two. Philadelphia is a potential threat but a lot as to go right.

The Central Division gave us a wonderful race last year with the Cardinals edging out the Pirates for the division title. The two teams then gave us a great five-game series before the Cards eventually advanced. I expect St. Louis to do well again and because the Prates did little in the offseason, I see a step back for them. Cincinnati could be a threat here too.

The West is going to be the Dodgers and everyone else. This doesn’t mean the Giants and D-Backs can’t be threats but I just don’t see how anyone will be able to hang with LA for 162 games with the pitching and hitting they currently have.

NL Predictions: East – Washington, Central – St. Louis, West – LA Dodgers, Wild-Cards – Atlanta, San Francsico

Monday Offers All Four Divisional Series in Action

Buchholz takes the hill looking to sweep Boston into the ALCS.

All four of Major League Baseball’s Divisional Series are on tap for today and in the National League, Pittsburgh and ________ have a chance to close out their respective series. To this point the action has been very good with pitching being dominant in some cases and offense rising to the forefront in others.

Regardless of the outcomes, the championship series’ in both leagues should bring some really good baseball among some of the game’s best franchises and fan bases.

Oakland at Detroit (series tied 1-1) – What a series this is turning out to be. After a sparkling performance by Max Scherzer in a 3-2 game one win, Justin Verlander and Sonny Gray matched zero for zero in game two before Oakland broke through in the bottom of the ninth for the 1-0 win.

Now the scene shifts to Detroit where Anabel Sanchez takes the hill for the Tigers. Since mid-July, he is 10-3 and has been arguably the team’s best pitcher. For the A’s, Jarrod Parker gets the call. He has lost three of his last five starts and in his most recent outing he gave up three home runs.

Everything points to Detroit in this one.

Boston at Tampa Bay (Sox lead 2-0) – The Red Sox have been nothing short of dominant as the scene shifts to Tampa where the crowd will be filled with as many Boston fans as Rays’ fans. Tampa Bay turns to Alex Cobb who was so good in knocking the Cleveland Indians out of the playoffs. He had a rough patch in late August and early September bu has things going in recent weeks.

The Red Sox will hand the ball to Clay Buchholz who enters with a 12-1 record and has been really good in his last few starts. Knowing he has a comfortable lead behind him as well as an offense that’s raking the ball I expect Buchholz to pitch well.

Cobb will pitch well too. He was in a similar spot less than a week ago but can the Rays score enough to keep in the game and series? I say no. Look for Buchholz to finsh the sweep.

Can Morton deliver and help the Pirates get to the NLCS?

St. Louis at Pittsburgh (Pirates lead 2-1) – Charlie Morton hasn’t factored in a decision since September eighth but has pitched fairly well and now gets the ball with a chacne to send to the Pirates to the National Championship Series. The problem for the Buccos who are somewhat offensively challenged is that they draw St. Louis starter Michael Wacha.

The 22-year old was last seen on the hill just one out away from a no-hitter in his final regualr season appearance. At 4-1 the youngster has shown he can pitch. The question of course now is can he do it with his team’s season in the balance and in front of a raucaos crowd in Pittsburgh?

I think Wacha will pitch well but this Pirates team just seems destined for something greater. Take the Bucs.

Atlanta at Los Angeles (LA leads 2-1) – The Dodgers scored 10 runs last night over the second, third and fourth innings to breeze to a 13-6 win. They now move to a game from advancing to the NLCS.

37-year old Freddy Garcia takes the mound for the Braves in Los Angeles while Ricky Nolasco takes the bump for the Dodgers. Both guys were brought in from other teams during the season for this exact purpose. Nolasco has been sharper during his time with his current team than has Garcia but the elder Garcia has more playoff seasoning. I like the Dodgers to close things out tonight.



Braves Are Dinged Up; Games to Wager Tonight

How will the loss of Hudson affect the Braves for the rest of the season?

If you haven’t yet heard the news from last night’s game between the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves then let me fill you in. The Braves won 8-2 behind another excellent performance by Tim Hudson who won his fourth straight start. The bad news for Hudson is that in eighth inning he suffered a broken ankle on a really flukey play at first.

Hudson is expected to undergo surgery once the swelling goes down and his return is uncertain at this time.

The injury occurred when the Mets’ Eric Young Jr. hit a grounder that bounced off the chest of first baseman Freddie Freeman. Hudson bolted to cover first and had his foot on the bag when Young, hustling down the line, stepped on his foot turning in a direction it really isn’t supposed to go.

Hudson will become the second Braves’ starting pitcher this week to go on the Disabled List this week. Paul Maholm has a bruised wrist and was put on the 15-Day DL on Monday.

The question now is, can the Braves survive? These aren’t just two average starters either. Hudson is 8-7 with an ERA of 3.97 and a WHIP of 1.19. Maholm is 9-9 with an ERA above four and a WHIP of 1.39. Both guys are important cogs in an Atlanta pitching rotation that ranks second in the National League in pitching.

In terms of who fills these two roles, that’s up in the air at the time of this writing. Right-hander Brandon Beachy continues to make progress from Tommy John surgery with starts in the minors. He pitched well in his most recent outing at Triple-A Gwinnett. I would expect him to be up with the Braves sooner rather than later.

The Braves lead the NL East by eight games over Philadelphia and nine over Washington. Atlanta will survive the injuries to make the playoffs because of their lead and because the Phillies may very well have a huge fire sale to dump salary. The Nationals don’t appear to be ready to right the ship so Atlanta will enter the playoffs, but if Hudson isn’t available, that will be a huge blow to their chances in those playoffs.

Gonzalez takes the hill tonight trying to keep the Nats alive in the NL East.

Coming Up Tonight in the Big Leagues

Pittsburgh Pirates (A.J. Burnett) at Washington Nationals (Gio Gonzalez) – Burnett is 1-5 in his last six starts dating back to early May. Not great at all, but his ERA and WHIP are both respectable at 3.07 and 1.22 respectively. Gonzalez has been a nice bright spot for the Nats. He hasn’t lost a decision since May 7th and stands at 7-3 on the year with an ERA of 2.89. The number tonight is 7 (over -120/under -110).

With both guys having solid ERAs, I like the under tonight. The Nats get the ‘W’ and avoid the sweep.

New York Yankees (Hiroki Kuroda) at Texas Rangers (Derek Holland) – Kuroda has been very solid for the Yanks going 9-6 with an excellent ERA of 2.65 and a really good WHIP of 1.04. Holland has been no slouch either for the Rangers. He sits at 8-5 with an ERA of 3.10 and a WHIP of 1.26.

Both teams are below .500 over their last ten games and both are in danger of slipping out of their respective races. The Yankees are seven games back of the Red Sox and the Rangers have dipped to three behind the Athletics. Neither team can afford to fall further back even with the Wild-Card possibilities.

The over/under tonight is -115/-115 with the number at eight. Much like the Pirates/Nats game above, both guys have very good ERAs which leans me toward the under here and a win for the Yanks behind Kuroda.

My Crystal Ball for Baseball’s Second Half

Ortiz and the Red Sox have the AL's best offense. Will it propel them to a division title?

Ahhh yes. The All-Star break in Major League Baseball is you can take upon us. That annual rite of passage where kids see their baseball heroes all in one place and where Chris Berman annoys the hell out of all us with his Home Run Derby call. What would summer be like without it?

I’m certain tonight’s Home Run Derby will be just fine. I know it will be in my house as the mute signal glares from the bottom right of the TV screen. I won’t be thinking about whether Prince Fielder can win the Derby because I’m looking ahead to the second half of the season and I’ve got some predictions you can take to the bank.

American League Projections

AL East – The Boston Red Sox hold a 2.5 games lead over a very hot Tampa Rays team. Baltimore is 4.5 back and the Bronx Bombers are six back. I don’t know how long the Yanks can hang in there because the offense is lacking and A-Rod’s return will help but it won’t be enough. I like the Sox to hang on with a combination of pitching and offense.

AL Central – The Tigers have just a 1.5 game lead over Cleveland who will be their only competition down the stretch. Kansas City is out by eight and the White Sox and Twins are expected to hold fire sales at the end of the month. Detroit will make a deal to get a more stable closer and eventually will pull away behind the offense and great starting pitching.

AL West – Much like the Central, this is a two-team race. Oakland leads Texas by two games. Both teams are in the middle of the pack offensively, but Oakland owns the best pitching in the American League and that’s why they’ll hang on to win the West.

Freeman will miss the All-Star game with an injury but is needed for the Braves in the second half.

NL East – Atlanta leads Washington and Philadelphia by six and 6.5 games respectively but has injury issues with the Upton brothers and Freddie Freeman. The question for the Phillies is whether they feel they have a shot at the post-season because otherwise, they have lots of guys available for trade talks. The Braves win the East.

NL Central – This is a three-team race with St. Louis in front of the Pirates by a game and a half and ahead of the Reds by four games. In order for the Pirates to avoid a third-straight second half collapse they’ll need to add some offense to go with great pitching. The Reds lack consistency which is why I like the Cards to hang on and the Pirates to grab the wild-card.

NL West – Arizona leads LA by 2.5 games. Colorado and San Francisco are 4.5 and 6.5 games out respectively. This is the one division I struggle to call. Yasiel Puig has given the Dodgers a nice life to get back in the race but I don’t think it will last. Colorado is near the bottom in pitching which will doom them and the Giants aren’t significantly better. I think Arizona hangs on in the West but its’ going to be close.

Other Predictions – Miguel Cabrera is on a pace better than his Triple Crown season of last year but I don’t know that he’ll catch Chris Davis for home runs. Davis leads him by seven. I will take Cabrera to win a second-straight MVP award though…. If the Nationals don’t show some life in the first three weeks after the break then I’m predicting Davey Johnson becomes the first managerial casualty…. Player suspensions will be the talk of the second half as I expect them to be handed down in the next week or two…. If the Pirates win the NL Central, reliever Jason Grilli could be an MVP candidate. He’s been that good for the Buccos…. My World Series pick of Washington and Detroit looks much less likely today.