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

Showalter

 

Showalter
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.

AL EAST

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.

AL CENTRAL

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.

AL WEST

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

 

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

NL EAST

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.

NL WEST

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

THE MVP RACE

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.

Odds for National League Division Winners

Harper
Harper
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.

Braun
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.

Rangers at Angels is My Main Focus Tonight

Darvish
Darvish
The Texas Rangers need a strong outing from Yu Darvish tonight in Anaheim.

I told you early last week that the Texas Rangers were in dire need of a hot streak in order to stay relevant in the American League West. The complete opposite has happened. The Rangers have dropped four straight and now head into the ESPN Sunday Night Game looking to salvage the final game of a three-game set in Anaheim.

Also on my agenda tonight are games in Colorado and Arizona. Let’s get to the MLB action.

Texas Rangers (-125) at LA Angels (+105), O/U 8Yu Darvish 7-3 vs. Matt Shoemaker 4-1 If the Texas Rangers had a guy to put a stop to their four-game slide then Yu Darvish would be that guy. He takes the hill tonight looking to keep the Rangers’ heads above water. Texas is now 11.5 games out of first place and with the Angels in second 5.5 games ahead of them, time is of the essence.

Darvish was beaten by the Oakland A’s in a five inning stint in his last outing but he is 2-1 in his last three with an ERA of 3.43. His opponent on the hill is Shoemaker who is 4-1 in his six starts this season. His most recent start was very impressive as he went eight innings giving up just two runs in a win over Cleveland.

While the focus of this game appears to be on the Rangers, we can’t lose sight of what the Angels are attempting to do either. Were the playoffs to begin today, the Angels would be one of the Wild-Cards but they aren’t focused on that. Although they have won two straight, the Athletics have won five straight and are threatening to run away with the AL West.

Yes, it’s just June but the Angels have to careful here. While they cannot win the division or a Wild-Card this month they sure can lose it. I like the Angels tonight behind the solid pitching of Shoemaker and I like the UNDER as well.

Lohse
Kyle Lohse is one of the reasons why Milwaukee remains in first place in the NL Central.

Milwaukee (-130) at Colorado (+110), O/U NLKyle Lohse 8-2 vs. Tyler Matzek 1-1 The Brewers have won three-straight and have gone 7-3 over their last ten games. They hold a 5.5 game lead over the second place St Louis Cardinals and are looking for the sweep in Denver today. Conversely, the Rockies have dropped five in a row and are now trailing the NL West Leading San Francisco Giants by 10 full games.

Colorado has Matzek on the hill and he has gone 1-1 in just two starts this season. His season ERA of 3.75 isn’t horrible especially for a guy pitching in Coors Field but he’ll need to be very good to beat Lohse. Lohse has had a very solid season but his last three starts have seen his ERA at 5.21.

Call me crazy here but I like the Rockies today.

San Francisco (-150) at Arizona (+130), O/U 8.5Madison Bumgarner 8-4 vs. Michael Bolsinger 1-2 The National League West leaders have struggled recently going just 2-8 over their last ten ballgames. Their lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers has shrunk to four games.

The Diamondbacks meanwhile haven’t fared much better going 3-7 in their last ten outings. Arizona has been a huge disappointment in 2014 and they find themselves 14 games out of first place out West.

Bumgarner takes the hill today having gone 1-1 with a very good ERA of 2.86 and that just builds on what has already been an impressive season. His opponent Bolsinger has made just five starts in 2014 and is 0-1 with an ERA of 6.06 in his last three starts.

Arizona is the type of opponent that San Francisco needs to beat and they’ll do that today in Phoenix. Take the OVER as well.

 

Is Braun the First Domino?

Braun
Braun
Ryan Braun was suspended by MLB yesterday for the remainder of the season for PED use.

I wrote a few weeks ago that Major League Baseball was reportedly getting ready to suspend Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez among others in the on-going investigation into the South Florida Biogenesis Clinic. I wrote specifically on the affect that the potential suspensions would have on your wagering going forward.

I’ll get back to the affect below, but first let’s cover the situation as it is this morning.

Yesterday, MLB suspended Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers for the remainder of the seaosn which amounts to 65 games. This suspension will also be without pay. Braun will lose roughly about $3.25 million dollars of a guaranteed contract worth well over $100 million. He’ll get the rest of his money so don’t exactly feel bad for him.

Braun immediately issued an apology which went over about as well a band-aid to cover a gunshot wound. He admited he lied and admitted he used and off he went.

More than likely A-Rod is next on the MLB suspension list. Make no mistake about it that his ‘quad injury’ is an excuse to keep him away from the Yankees’ clubhouse. They know he’s going to be gone in the very near future so why bring him in for a game or two? The evidence against Rodriguez is reportedly much more substantial than the evidence against Braun was. That’s no good for A-Rod and he knows it. There are reports he is trying to cut a deal with MLB on the suspension length.

Colon
Colon could be suspended as the dominos start to fall in the PED investigation.

This isn’t just about Braun and Rodriguez though. The reports have stated more than once that this could include guys like Bartolo Colon who is having an outstanding season for Oakland. Another Melky Cabrera of the Giants. Both Colon and Cabrera have been suspended for 50 games already for PED use and that was before the Biogenesis Clinic was on MLB’s radar.

Both of those guys being suspended would have major ramifications for the futures of their respective teams but it could be the Dtroit Tigers who get hurt the most. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta is also heavily mentioned in the report. The Tigers are trying to hold off the Cleveland Indians in the Central and Miguel Cabrera left last night’s game with a minor injury.

Detroit has just the elderly Ramon Santiago to fill in for Peralta should he been suspended. The only minor league talent that is MLB-ready is out due to injury or just lack of true experience. Peralta is a major cog in the Detroit offense and defense. Make no mistake about it.

Another playoff contender that could be adversely affected is Texas. Nelson Cruz is also in the report and could be suspended sooner rather than later. His absence would be a significant blow to the Rangers’ offense as he has 23 homers and 70 RBIs.

There are some other players likely to be involved but they don’t carry the significance of the above-mentioned guys. So back to what this means to you from a wagering perspective…

Braun’s absence makes an already bad Milwaukee team worse. If you’re betting in games featuring the Brewers, pay close attention to the pitching match-ups. Milwaukee is sixth in the National League in hitting so look for that to drop with Braun out of the lineup.

A-Rod’s absence doesn’t mean as much because he hasn’t been with the parent club all year. I would continue wagering on or against the Yanks as you have all season. Keep a particular eye on the A’s and Rangers out West if Colon and Cruz are both suspended. That will significantly alter you should approach games with these teams involved. Pay close attention to over/under numbers especially with the Rangers who lose an everyday player and offensive powerhouse in Cruz.

The Tigers have been tough to wager all year and it will only get more difficult with Peralta potentially out. Santiago is solid defensively, but he lacks the pop Peralta has in his bat. Pay close attention to how the Tigers trend in the week or so after any potential Peralta suspension.

This could be the beginning of major changes coming to the way baseball and professional sports deal with PEDs. You’ll need to be on top of the news prior to wagering.