2015 National League Pennant Odds

Harper
Harper
Bryce Harper and the Nationals are favorites to win the 2015 NL Pennant.

Washington Nationals 13/4 – The addition of Max Scherzer rocketed the Nationals to the top contenders in the National League and rightfully so. He will eat innings which will help the bullpen. The offense is solid, but not spectacular in my opinion but I do like skipper Matt Williams a lot because he knows how to generate some runs.

Los Angeles Dodgers 19/4 – Brandon McCarthy makes the starting rotation deeper but did the bullpen and offense get any better? I think the Dodgers challenge but any dropoff could result in Don Mattingly going bye-bye.

Chicago Cubs 6/1 – Joe Maddon instantly adds wins to this team and adding some more talent to the already talented youth doesn’t hurt either. Can they live up to higher expectations? Time will tell.

San Diego Padres 13/2 – The addition of James Shields will give the pitching staff a much needed boost and the offense will be better as well. The problem is the division where the Giants and Dodgers aren’t going to go away anytime soon.

St. Louis Cardinals 13/2 – Although some extra pitching would have been nice in the offseason, the Cardinals did add Jason Heyward to the outfield and the line-up. I see no reason why the Cards aren’t right where they usually are in the end.

Bumgarner
Madison Bumgarner will need a repeat performance if the Giants are to repeat as the champs.

San Francisco Giants 17/2 – The defending champs aren’t fond of odd-numbered years and their pitching staff, outside of Madison Bumgarner is a little questionable. Plus, who replaces Pablo Sandoval?

New York Mets 14/1 – Michael Cuddyer comes over from Colorado so while we can expect his numbers to drop a bit he is still a solid upgrade. There are capable players on this team so if the pitching can come through the Mets could be a challenge in the East.

Pittsburgh Pirates 14/1 – The Battling Buccos have to replace Russell Martin behind the dish and that won’t be easy. He was a great leader and was well-liked by the fans. A.J. Burnett returns to the rotation but will they get enough out of the starters this year?

Miami Marlins 16/1 – This team will have a very exciting outfield which should put butts in seats. The questions will be mostly about pitching and whether the Marlins will have enough of it to stay with the Nationals.

Cincinnati Reds 28/1 – After competing in recent years the Reds will take a significant step back. They lack any real depth and should they stay healthy could be a factor but they dumped too many guys to consider them.

Atlanta Braves 33/1 – The Braves unloaded a lot of players recently and seem to be throwing in the towel for this season and maybe next year as well.

Milwaukee Brewers 33/1 – The Brewmasters started so hot last season but then the roof collapsed and they were caught by St. Louis and Pittsburgh. I don’t see any type of start this year resembling what they did in 2014.

Arizona Diamondbacks 50/1 – This team is destined for the basement in the National League West unless they can best the Rockies which is debatable. The Padres got better and there’s no way they are in the same league as the Dodgers and Giants.

Colorado Rockies 75/1 – The Rockies have very little pitching and the offense is going to rely too heavily on just a couple of guys for them to be taken seriously in 2015.

Philadelphia Phillies 75/1 – It’s a fantastic baseball city that probably deserves better but I don’t see much hope in sight. This is going to be another long year especially in a division with three top, improved teams.

Who I like… As much as I hate going with the favorite, I think Washington gets over the hump behind a monster pitching staff and wins the pennant.

MLB Futures Update

The new-look Toronto Blue Jays remain the bookies' favorite to win the 2013 World Series.

In 47 days’ time, the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers will take to the baseball diamond at Minute Maid Park, raising the curtain on the 2013 Major League Baseball Season.

With pitchers and catchers arriving in Arizona and Florida this week for Spring Training, there’s still plenty of deals to be done before that first pitch is thrown – not to mention a cavalcade of storylines that still need to fully unravel – but Casino Review is going to take this time to look at the updated MLB futures, and how they could still be impacted six weeks or so before the season proper gets underway.

Currently No. 1 on the MLB futures list is Toronto. Since November’s mega-trade with the Miami Marlins, the Blue Jays have held firm at the top of bookmakers list.

The retooled Blue Jays will welcome the likes of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Melky Cabrera, and 2012 Cy Young award-winner, R.A. Dickey to the fold when the team takes to the Rogers Centre field for its first game on Apr. 2.

Whilst the collection of talent – the likes of which the Blue Jays have never seen before, even during its World Series winning season of 1992 and 1993 – has wowed bookmakers to the tune of 7/1 odds to win the World Series, bettors need only take a look at this season’s Los Angeles Lakers, or last year’s Miami Marlins for that matter, to see how this could blow up in their face.

Toronto is 7/2 to win the AL pennant at this time.

No. 2 on the MLB futures list is Washington. The Nationals are considered 8/1 to win the World Series next season, and 15/4 to win the NL pennant.

After enjoying the franchise’s best season since moving to D.C., Washington had the luxury this winter of sticking with what brought it to the dance. Aside from the usual tinkering and sorting that goes along with the offseason, the team did add closer Rafael Soriano to the bullpen, at the cost of a two-year, $28 million contract. That instantly makes the Nationals a better side.

At 8/1 to win the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers sit level with Washington on the World Series futures list, but the Southern California side narrowly trails the Nationals in terms of the NL pennant. The Dodgers are considered 4/1 to win the National League.

Like the Blue Jays, the Dodgers were involved in a blockbuster trade last year, only in this case it happened during the season. The arrival of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford might not have come in time for the Dodgers to catch San Francisco in the NL West, but odds makers like the side’s chances from the off this season.

The MLB futures’ top five is rounded out by Detroit and the Los Angeles Angels, both of whom are considered 9/1 to win the World Series, and 9/2 to win the AL pennant.

After winning the AL pennant in 2012, the Tigers haven’t made a huge splash in the market this offseason, but with it expected that Victor Martinez should return from injury (ACL) this season in the DH spot, odds makers like the Motor City side to contend again. It doesn’t harm that AL MVP and Triple Crown-winner Miguel Cabrera will be back at third base.

The Angels did make a splash this winter, signing free agent Josh Hamilton from under the noses of the Texas Rangers. Hamilton – who has suffered alcohol dependency issues – is a risk but one the Angels and bookmakers like, especially when the long ball hitter is next to Albert Pujols.

We’ve included a breakdown of all odds pertaining to the World Series, American League and National League below, but here are a few more noteworthy observations.

World Series champion San Francisco finds itself in joint sixth spot on the World Series futures (14/1) alongside Atlanta, Cincinnati, the New York Yankees and Texas. The Giants are tied with Atlanta in fourth place on the NL futures (7/1) behind Washington, the Dodgers, and Cincinnati (6/1).

The Yankees and Rangers (both 13/2) are tied for fourth spot in the AL with plenty of questions surrounding the organizations, not least in New York’s case the uncertainty surrounding the health and possible PED usage of Alex Rodriguez.

At the other end of the futures list, Houston is the least favored team in terms of the World Series (200/1) and, in its first season in the league, the AL pennant (75/1).

After shipping the majority of its high-priced talent north to Toronto, Miami finds itself at the bottom of the NL list, alongside the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies at 50/1. Each of those sides, as well as Minnesota and the New York Mets, is considered 100/1 to win the World Series.

 

Odds to Win 2013 World Series

Toronto Blue Jays 7/1

Los Angeles Dodgers 8/1

Washington Nationals 8/1

Detroit Tigers 9/1

Los Angeles Angels 9/1

Atlanta Braves 14/1

Cincinnati Reds 14/1

New York Yankees 14/1

San Francisco Giants 14/1

Texas Rangers 14/1

Philadelphia Phillies 18/1

St. Louis Cardinals 20/1

Tampa Bay Rays 25/1

Boston Red Sox 30/1

Oakland Athletics 33/1

Baltimore Orioles 40/1

Chicago White Sox 40/1

Milwaukee Brewers 40/1

Arizona Diamondbacks 50/1

Kansas City Royals 50/1

Pittsburgh Pirates 50/1

Cleveland Indians 75/1

San Diego Padres 75/1

Seattle Mariners 75/1

Chicago Cubs 100/1

Colorado Rockies 100/1

Miami Marlins 100/1

Minnesota Twins 100/1

New York Mets 100/1

Houston Astros 200/1

 

Odds to Win 2013 AL Pennant

Toronto Blue Jays 7/2

Detroit Tigers 9/2

Los Angeles Angels 9/2

New York Yankees 13/2

Texas Rangers 13/2

Tampa Bay Rays 12/1

Boston Red Sox 14/1

Oakland Athletics 16/1

Baltimore Orioles 20/1

Chicago White Sox 20/1

Kansas City Royals 25/1

Cleveland Indians 40/1

Seattle Mariners 40/1

Minnesota Twins 50/1

Houston Astros 75/1

 

Odds to Win 2013 NL Pennant

Washington Nationals 15/4

Los Angeles Dodgers 4/1

Cincinnati Reds 6/1

Atlanta Braves 7/1

San Francisco Giants 7/1

Philadelphia Phillies 17/2

St. Louis Cardinals 9/1

Milwaukee Brewers 18/1

Arizona Diamondbacks 25/1

Pittsburgh Pirates 25/1

New York Mets 40/1

San Diego Padres 40/1

Chicago Cubs 50/1

Colorado Rockies 50/1

Miami Marlins 50/1

All odds supplied by Bovada.

Final Day of MLB Regular Season?

The surprising Baltimore Orioles (above) and Oakland Athletics will both look to take division titles away from their heavily-favored opponents, New York and Texas.

 

In this rollercoaster ride of a season, is it any surprise that we arrive at the final day of the season with as many questions as answers?

After 161 games, we’ve seen Baltimore, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Washington surprise everybody. We’ve seen Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Arizona – all making the postseason last year – underachieve while Boston straight up bottomed out. We’ve seen Detroit falter, yet somehow manage to curb the White Sox and make the postseason.

With unsuspecting storylines aplenty, we really shouldn’t be surprised that only after Wednesday’s slate of games will many of our remaining questions be answered. And it could take even longer than that.

 

National League All But Sorted

San Francisco’s win over the Dodgers on Tuesday night eliminated the Los Angeles (85-76) side from postseason contention, handing St. Louis (87-74) – who fell to Cincinnati earlier in the evening – the second and final Wild Card berth.

Following Wednesday’s wrap-up with the Reds, the Cardinals will travel to Atlanta (93-68) for a Wild Card showdown with the Braves. It’s a matchup that’s been on the cards [no pun intended] for the better part of a month now, but it took until game 161 to confirm it.

Bettors looking for an edge should consider this: Atlanta is 5-1 against St. Louis this season, with a 2-1 record at Turner Field.

The only other question left in the National League is who will finish with the number one seed. Washington (97-64) and Cincinnati (97-64) remained tied for best record in the NL and the Majors with wins on Tuesday night. Washington holds the tiebreaker by way of a 5-2 head-to-head record.

A Washington win or a Cincinnati loss will give the Nationals homefield advantage throughout the postseason, as well as setting up a Divisional Series against the winner of the Wild Card game.

A Cincinnati win coupled with a Washington loss gives Cincinnati the homefield advantage, while sending Washington to San Francisco for the opening Divisional Series.

 

AL West Crown To Be Decided Wednesday Afternoon

Having essentially shocked the world, Oakland (93-68) took a 3-1 win over Texas (93-68) on Tuesday night to put the two sides neck and neck with one game to play.

Having been a season-high 13 games behind on June 30, Oakland has rallied and astonishingly caught up with the Rangers, who have led the division since game 3 of the season.

Wednesday’s game (3:35 PM ET) will decide the division winner, with the loser heading to the Wild Card game on Friday.

Of course, trying to separate these two is tough enough, but determining who ends up going where later this week is all but impossible. Here’s what we can deduce at this time.

If Oakland loses on Wednesday, the team will be hitting the road for the Wild Card round. The A’s will take on the AL East division runner up (either the Orioles or Yankees).

If Texas loses, their destination will depend on how the AL East plays out. Texas currently holds the tiebreaker over Baltimore, but an Orioles win on Wednesday erases that advantage. New York holds the tiebreaker over Texas regardless. So, Texas could be headed to Baltimore or The Bronx, or could host the Orioles at Rangers Ballpark.

 

AL East Could Go Beyond 162

Despite expectations, having started hot, Baltimore (93-68) has never fallen away and now the Orioles are heading to the postseason for the first time since 1997. Keeping with the theme of hanging in there, the Maryland side could still win the AL East outright.

For the New York Yankees (94-67) it’s simple: win on Wednesday and take the division title. But things haven’t exactly gone according to plan for the Bronx Bombers this season, and with a seething Boston side visiting Yankee Stadium one last time this season, you wouldn’t be laughed at for putting your money on the Red Sox being spoilers on Wednesday night.

It’s fairly simple for Baltimore too. While the O’s no longer have their fate in their own hands, a win in Tampa Bay is a necessity on Wednesday. Why?

A win coupled with a Yankees loss forces game 163. The AL East decider would be played at Camden Yards – the two sides have split 18 games evenly, but Baltimore has a better record against the AL East, which is the second tiebreaker.

Even if the Yankees win and take the title on Wednesday, a win for Baltimore over the Rays guarantees homefield advantage in the Wild Card round. As it stands, Baltimore owns the tiebreaker against Oakland but not Texas, both of whom currently hold an identical record to the Orioles. With the two deciding the AL West title on Wednesday, Baltimore would do well to ensure that whoever loses has to make the long trip east.

 

But what does all this mean to the betting odds?

Well, with the way the season’s played out so far, would you bet against Oakland shocking Texas and taking the title? Would you bet against game 163 being won by Baltimore, leaving the Yankees to face Texas – the two teams with shortest odds of winning the World Series – in a one-game playoff? That would certainly cost a lot of people a lot of money.

Whichever way you look at it, with one day left of the regular season it would be tough for Major League Baseball to be any more exciting.

Penultimate Day of MLB Regular Season

For the Baltimore Orioles to win the AL East, Jon Lester and the Red Sox will need to pick off the Yankees today and tomorrow. That's a tough ask.

Just four days ago no American League team had booked its place in the postseason. Now we know all five competitors. We just don’t know who enters as division winners and who enters as Wild Cards.

Meanwhile, with much of the National League postseason having been booked for nearly two weeks, there’s still one place to play for with just two games left to play. It’s down to the Cardinals to hold off the Dodgers in this one.

When you wake tomorrow (Wednesday), all of this could be sorted. That means tonight could be your last chance for meaningful MLB betting. Well, until the postseason begins on Friday with the inaugural second Wild Card round.

 

Boston Red Sox @ New York Yankees

(7:05 PM ET)

Pitching matchup: Jon Lester (9-14, 4.94 ERA) Vs. David Phelps (4-4, 3.34 ERA)

Following Monday night’s win, New York (93-67, 49-30 home) needs just one win to secure the AL East title. The Yankees have two tries against the Red Sox to record that win.

Whilst Boston (69-91, 34-47 road) has little to play for – finishing above Toronto?­ ­– spoiling the Yankees’ division hopes would be just fine by the Bean Town faithful.

Lester will be grateful for the end of the season, along with a lot of Red Sox players, although a win tonight would at least give him a winning record (2-1) against the Yankees this season.

Phelps will also be looking for a 2-1 record over the Sox as he replaces the struggling Ivan Nova – not what the Yankees need heading into play this weekend.

Over the next two games, Curtis Granderson (40) needs one homerun to tie last season’s output and two for a career best.

Take: NEW YORK — everybody wants the race with Baltimore to go down to game 162 but the Yankees will spoil with a win tonight, before reorganizing the rotation.

 

Baltimore Orioles @ Tampa Bay Rays

(7:10 PM ET)

Pitching matchup: Miguel Gonzalez (8-4, 3.45 ERA) Vs. James Shields (15-9, 3.62 ERA)

With Tampa Bay (89-71, 45-34 home) eliminated from the postseason race on Sunday, last night’s 5-3 win over Baltimore (92-68, 45-34 road) did nothing but hand the Yankees a lead in the AL East.

Baltimore now needs to win to avoid playing the one-game playoff against Oakland/Texas on Friday. With ‘Big Game James’ on the mound it doesn’t look good for the Orioles, who counter with Miguel Gonzalez.

That being said, Baltimore has made a habit of winning in the unlikeliest of circumstances this season and Tuesday looks like another chance for fans to ‘Buck-le Up’.

Take: BALTIMORE — the Yankees may well take the AL East but a win is important if the Orioles are to host the Wild Card game on Friday. A loss would mean a long trip out west.

 

Texas Rangers @ Oakland Athletics

(10:05 PM ET)

Pitching matchup: Matt Harrison (18-10, 3.26 ERA) Vs. Travis Blackley (5-4, 4.25 ERA)

They’ve threatened it for months but it now looks like Oakland (92-68, 48-31 home) could actually snatch the AL West crown from Texas (93-67, 43-36 road).

Last night’s 4-3 win over the Rangers put the A’s just one game back with two to play. Texas didn’t expect to be playing back-against-the-wall baseball this late in the season but it’s been a funny old year.

Matt Harrison’s uneven season has still spawned an impressive 18 wins, but the A’s will know that they can get at him. Blackley got beat up last time out against the Yankees so he has the potential to either lockdown and take charge, or mentally slip a step and blow this one. Trying to pick between these two is an absolute crap shoot.

Take: OAKLAND –This one deserves to go down to the last day of the season, not least because seeing two competitors face each other on the final day is about as perfect as it gets. Texas, by the skin of their teeth, will get out with the division though.

 

Cincinnati Reds @ St. Louis Cardinals

(8:15 PM ET)

Pitching matchup: Mat Latos (13-4, 3.52 ERA) Vs. Chris Carpenter (0-1, 3.27 ERA)

St. Louis (87-73, 49-30 home) has had command of the second Wild Card spot since mid-August. Just one win puts the Cardinals back in the postseason with a chance to repeat.

You’d forgive Cincinnati (96-64, 46-33 road) for resting up and getting ready for Sunday’s NLDS opener with San Francisco. That’s not going to happen though. The Reds want homefield advantage throughout and to do so they must better Washington’s record over two games.

Chris Carpenter will take the mound in his third start, having been injured most of the season. It’s a bold move putting a ‘cold’ pitcher out there, and it will be a decision that could decide the Cards’ fate.

Take: CINCINNATI — Mat Latos and Co. will want to finish strong and will be too much for St. Louis tonight. St. Louis needn’t worry though…

 

San Francisco Giants @ Los Angeles Dodgers

(10:10 PM ET)

Pitching matchup: Barry Zito (14-8, 4.19 ERA) Vs. Chris Capuano (12-11, 3.69 ERA)

By hook or by crook, the Dodgers (85-75, 44-35 home) have somehow managed to stay in the postseason hunt until the very end. Granted, there was a time where it looked like this series would decide the division, but L.A. will take an in any way they can get it.

San Francisco (93-67 45-34 road) meanwhile has nothing to play for. The Giants know they’ll be visiting Washington or Cincinnati on Saturday, and that’s all they need to know. However…

You don’t think the Giants would revel in eliminating the Dodgers from contention? Of course they would. That’s what rivalries are all about. And with Barry Zito on the mound, that’s what’s likely to happen.

Take:  SAN FRANCISCO — Los Angeles’ six-game win streak comes to an end with bitter consequences, made worse that the Giants are postseason bound.

St. Louis Close in NL; Still Everything To Play For In AL

Eight days will decide it all.

There are only eight days left in the Major League Baseball regular season calendar and there’s still a whole heap of questions to be answered. The National League is all but set, but the American League is still as competitive as it comes.

In eight days’ time, all will be decided. Well, it might take a ninth day; who’d bet against a playoff game to get into the Wild Card playoff game? Chicago; Detroit: we’re all looking at you.

 

National League Wrap Up Close

Wednesday has a schedule chock full of important games.

In the National League, Atlanta wrapped up a postseason berth with a win over Miami on Tuesday. The Braves can finally exorcise the demons of last September and prepare themselves for that one game playoff, unless they can make up four games on the Nationals that is.

Atlanta’s success – alongside Washington, Cincinnati and San Francisco already qualifying – leaves just one NL postseason berth up for grabs. That spot looks every bit like it’s going to go to St. Louis (84-71, 38-42 road), who plays in Houston (50-105, 34-46 home) tonight. The Cardinals have gone about it quietly as well. The focus has been on the Dodgers and their megabucks spending, leaving St. Louis to get the job done. Expect the Red Birds to do likewise in tonight’s game.

The Los Angeles Dodgers (79-75, 39-40 road) meanwhile have made the trip south down Interstate 5 to San Diego (74-80, 41-35 home). The Padres – who are no slouches at home – took Tuesday’s series opener and enters the second as favorites. Los Angeles needs a win or else they can wave goodbye to any postseason hopes. Actually, at four games back of the Cardinals, they need a miracle. Take them to win this game though.

Milwaukee (79-75, 33-46 road) visits Cincinnati (93-61, 49-30 home). The Reds may have locked up their postseason berth last week, but the team is still looking to finish with the best record in the National League. Don’t expect them to roll over in this one. Like Los Angeles, the Brewers are four games back of the Cards so anything less than a win is postseason suicide. The Reds will take this one behind Bronson Arroyo (12-8, 3.63 ERA) though, effectively eliminating Milwaukee from contention.

 

AL Central Race Couldn’t Be Closer

Tuesday saw Detroit win and Chicago lose. The result? A tie at the top of the AL Central.

Detroit (82-72, 48-31 home) hosts Kansas City (70-84, 36-42) in the third of four meetings this week. The Tigers have taken the first two. With Rick Porcello (9-12, 4.57 ERA) going up against Jeremy Guthrie (7-12, 4.80 ERA) this will hardly be a pitching duel. Take the Tigers to win a high-scoring affair.

Chicago White Sox (82-72, 44-32 home) plays Cleveland (64-91, 30-50 road) in the rubber game of the set. The White Sox have managed to stave off Detroit’s surges over the past two months, but they may not do so tonight. Hector Santiago (3-1, 3.45 ERA) has barely pitched over the past two weeks. His rustiness could cost the White Sox in this one.

 

AL East To Go Down to the Wire

The race between the Yankees and Orioles has swung in New York’s favor over the past week or so, but the Birds are hanging in there.

The New York Yankees (89-65, 41-35 road) play Minnesota (65-90, 30-47 home) this afternoon (1:10 PM ET) in the third of four, with the set having been split at one-apiece already. This one looks like a no-brainer betting-wise. C.C. Sabathia (13-6, 3.47 ERA) will take the mound and the Yankees will ultimate come out with a win that will equate to a two-game lead by the time Baltimore takes the field.

Baltimore (88-67, 43-34 home) hosts Toronto (68-86, 32-48 road) in the final game of a series that has seen the Jays take two out of three from the O’s. Expect a bounce-back performance after two straight losses and that gap closing to 1.5 games again. This race could go down to early next week.

 

AL Wild Card Looking Clearer

It’s looking less likely that the loser of the Detroit/Chicago race will make the playoffs. It’s also looking more and more like the loser of the Yankees/Orioles race will. That leaves one spot to play for.

That spot currently belongs to Oakland (87-67, 43-36 road) who looks to beat Texas (91-63, 48-28 home) tonight. The hometown Rangers are favorites despite losing Tuesday night’s encounter. With four head-to-head games left between the two after tonight, an Oakland loss effectively hands the AL West title to Texas, and leaves Oakland trying to hang on to the Wild Card place. Take a Texas win tonight.

Los Angeles Angels (85-69, 45-34) will need to beat Seattle (72-82, 34-42 road) to stay in the race, although it’s looking more and more unlikely we’ll be seeing the Halos after next Wednesday. Felix Hernandez (13-8, 2.85 ERA) goes for the Mariners, and could be a thorn in the L.A. side. He won for the first time in September last time out. Take the Mariners for the upset win.

Tampa Bay (84-70, 40-36 road) has compiled a six-game winning streak and will need to beat Boston (69-86, 34-46 home) if their very slim chances of making the postseason are to remain intact. The Red Sox have managed to put dents in both New York and Baltimore’s run to the postseason so expect them to do the same to the Rays tonight. The fate of Joe Maddon and Co. lies in Texas beating up on Oakland this week and next.

Thursday Has Betting Action Whatever Your Sporting Preference

 

The weekend’s getting closer and that means a triple dose of sporting action Thursday night. A full slate of baseball action is scheduled whilst Thursday Night Football kick starts the NFL’s Week 3. Then it’s a time for some Top 25 NCAA football as #24 Boise State hosts Brigham Young, a team on the fringe of the polls. That’s plenty of betting action making its way to you.

 

MLB: Oakland Athletics @ Detroit Tigers

(1:05 PM ET)

Tommy Millone and the Oakland A's are underdogs but look good to get out of Detroit with a win Thursday afternoon.

Baseball gets an early start – and a rare 13-game Thursday schedule – with no fewer than seven games starting before 4:05 PM ET. The pick of the early games is Oakland (64-64, 40-33 road) at Detroit (79-69, 45-28 home).

Detroit has taken the first two games of the series, leaving Oakland on a three-game losing streak, and having won only two of the past six. The mini-slump has seen the A’s overtaken by the Orioles for the first Wild Card place. Oakland remains 3.5 games up on Los Angeles.

Detroit lost a golden opportunity to put the pressure on Chicago (White Sox) when the two met in a game rescheduled earlier this week. Detroit’s wins over Oakland has the Tigers two games behind the South Siders in the race for the AL Central.

The Tigers are favorites. Detroit’s moneyline is -140, while Oakland is +120. The over/under is 8.5. With Tom Millone (OAK) and Anibal Sanchez (DET) on the mound, take the over. Take Oakland to avoid the sweep.

 

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Washington Nationals

(7:05 PM ET)

The pick of the evening games sees Los Angeles (77-72, 37-37 road) try to prize another win from the NL East-leading Washington Nationals (90-58, 45-28 home).

The two teams split a day/night doubleheader on Wednesday, making up for Tuesday’s rained off fixture. Washington is one game from securing a postseason berth, while Los Angeles is desperately looking to pass St. Louis – currently two games to the good – in the race for the final Wild Card position.

Washington is the bookie’s pick with the moneyline set at -140, and will rely on Ross Detwiler to see them into the postseason for the first time since the franchise exited Montreal. Chris Capuano goes for the Dodgers, and gives the team a good chance of winning. The over/under is set at 8.

Take Los Angeles to spoil the party tonight, before Washington secures postseason play against Milwaukee on Friday.

 

NFL: New York Giants @ Carolina Panthers

(8:20 PM ET)

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are favorites at home to the New York Giants.

Week 3 in the NFL kicks off with the New York Giants (1-1, 0-0 road) heading to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers (1-1, 1-0 home).

The Giants beat the Buccaneers in a shootout on Sunday, making up for an opening day loss to Dallas. Carolina upset New Orleans over the weekend after losing to Tampa Bay in Week 1.

This has the potential to be another high-scoring affair. Eli Manning has averaged 361.5 yards through the air in his two previous starts while Can Newton is a threat both through the air and on the ground. The second-year QB leads the Panthers in rushing. Expect this one to go over the 50 points set in the over/under.

New York has won three of the last four encounters, including a 31-18 win last time around (2010). The Giants have not played in Charlotte since 2006.

Oddsmakers have Carolina as three-point favorites. That’s a little surprising, although a win over New Orleans probably does grant some favoritism. Take New York though, both straight up and to beat the spread. Tom Coughlin is a wily vet and will have the answer for Cam Newton’s athleticism.

 

NCAAF: Brigham Young @ #24 Boise State

(9:00 PM ET)

To close out the night, we get our second helping of Week 4 NCAA action. Kent State took down Buffalo last night in a MAC showdown. Tonight, #24 Boise State (1-1, 1-0 home) looks to do the same to Brigham Young (2-1, 0-1 road).

Brigham Young’s loss to Utah last weekend say the IA independent drop out of the polls, while the Broncos’ win over Miami (OH) elevated them back into the rankings after dropping out after Week 1 for the first time in four years.

Boise State, playing at home, is one-touchdown favorites over the Cougars. The Broncos haven’t lost a home game in September since a 41-20 loss to Washington State in 2001. That’s 18 games ago!

BYU is no slouch though. Bar last week’s missed field goals at the end of the game, the Cougars would have been entering this game 3-0 and ranked.

Still, Boise State edges out BYU in this one. Take the Broncos to win outright and to beat the spread.

Then, get ready for football action all weekend.

MLB Postseason Odds Offer Up Some Surprises

A late season surge by Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies all of a sudden has the team making a push for the postseason.

With just two weeks left in the season, the race for Major League Baseball’s postseason is as hot as it could possibly be.

Not a single division has been decided, although you can put a marker beside Cincinnati (89-59) and San Francisco (85-63) who have all but insurmountable leads heading down the stretch. The NL East tandem of Washington (89-57) and Atlanta (85-64) both look postseason bound. The only question there remains whether the Braves can catch the Strasburg-less Nationals?

In the American League, Texas (87-60) looks good for a postseason berth but a resilient Oakland (84-63) side is still making a bid for the division title whilst leading all in the Wild Card race. New York (83-63) and Baltimore (84-63) are knotted up at the top of the AL East. Chicago (81-66) has regained a three-game lead on Detroit (78-69) and will hope to ride out the last season storm.

But odds released by Bovada have offered up an interesting look at Baseball Futures.

Unraveling the American League

Bovada currently ranks Texas as 9/4 favorites to win the American League outright and 9/2 favorites to win the World Series. From this point forward you should consider the Rangers in the postseason.

Of the remaining teams, the New York Yankees are favorite to make the postseason (-800 Yes, +500 No) alongside Oakland (-800 Yes, +500 No). No surprise there, except New York is currently embroiled in an all-out war with Baltimore for the division crown, and both are just three games ahead of the trailing Wild Card pack.

The Yankees are actually 7/2 to take the AL outright and 7/1 to take the World Series. This is the sort of respect a 27-time World Champion is bound to get.

Baltimore meanwhile is expected to make the postseason (-115 Yes, -115 No) for the first time since 1997 via the final Wild Card spot.

The White Sox are favored to make the postseason (-150 Yes, +120 No) from the AL Central over Detroit (+110 Yes, -150 No).

This leaves the Angels (81-67) and Tampa Bay (78-70). The Angels are a stretch (+250 Yes, -325 No) to make the postseason, whilst Tampa’s poor play of late has them out of the running in the eyes of the oddsmakers. At six games back in the Wild Card race it might be time to write off the Rays.

Despite all of this, Detroit (14/1) and the Angels (15/1) have shorter odds of winning the World Series than Oakland (16/1), Chicago (16/1) and Baltimore (18/1). Tampa Bay (18/1) even has the same odds of taking the trophy. These are anomalies that suggest a bet on the Orioles makes sense.

Deciphering the National League

Although the National League may be a little clearer at the top, the Wild Card picture is particularly murky.

Cincinnati (13/2) and Washington (7/1) are favorites to take the World Series. San Francisco (9/1) follows close behind. The three, alongside Atlanta, look to have done enough to secure four of the five postseason berths.

That leaves six teams (Los Angeles, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Milwaukee Pittsburgh and Arizona) battling for one vacant spot. Take a look at that list again. That is not an arbitrary order; it’s how the teams rank in terms of World Series odds, from shortest to longest.

That’s right; the Dodgers have the best World Series odds (20/1) of any of the teams in the hunt for that one last berth. Well, at least they share the best odds. Philadelphia (20/1) has pricked the attention of oddsmakers with a late season charge. The big difference is the Phillies (74-74) currently sit four games back of the St. Louis Cardinals (78-70) while the Dodgers (78-70) are 1.5 games back. It would take some charge to live up to those expectations.

But what of those Cardinals? This is where these odds take another unexpected twist. Despite being considered less of a World Series threat than the Dodgers and Phillies, the defending champions are actually considered more likely to make the postseason (-150 Yes, +120 No). To compare: Philadelphia (+350 Yes, -500 No), Los Angeles (+400 Yes, -600 No). If we use the same logic as we used for Baltimore in the AL, this makes St. Louis a worthy bet, doesn’t it?

Oddsmakers still give Milwaukee (75-72) a slim chance of making the postseason (+600 Yes, -1,000 No) but any patience with Pittsburgh (74-73) and Arizona (73-74), who both remain on the fringe of the hunt, has long gone due to both trailing off in the last third of the season.

 

So, if we pay heed to the oddsmakers, the postseason will be made up of the following:

American League: Texas, NY Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Oakland, Baltimore

National League: Cincinnati, Washington, San Francisco, Atlanta, St. Louis

Accordingly, the World Series will be contested between Texas and Cincinnati.

The only thing with that is, there’re still two weeks to play and 18 teams will have something to say about it. And that’s not counting those eliminated teams looking to play spoiler.

Busy Day in Baseball Has Postseason Contenders On Show

 

If anybody had any lingering doubts about whether the additional Wild Card place this year was a good thing, they need only look at the standings as we head into the final two weeks of the regular season.

No fewer than 10 teams in the National League have a valid shot at making the postseason, while eight teams in the American League are in with a chance. Everything really is still to play for.

Here’s a look at some of the important games on tap Tuesday night. If you’re thinking of placing a wager or two, you’ve got plenty to contemplate first; no fewer than 14 of the 15 games feature teams still in the postseason hunt.

Los Angeles Dodgers @ Washington Nationals

Jordan Zimmerman takes the mound for Washington against Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

Los Angeles (76-71, 36-36 road) visits Washington (89-57, 44-27 home) on the back of a 4-game split with St. Louis. The Cardinals remain one game up in the race for the final Wild Card place – Atlanta has all but wrapped up the first Wild Card. Winning in Washington is essential, especially with a tough trip to Cincinnati following.

The Dodgers may have a chance on Tuesday night as Washington pitcher Jordan Zimmerman (10-8, 3.01 ERA) looked tired last time out. Aaron Harang (9-9, 3.79 ERA) takes the mound for L.A. and has been consistent at keeping his team in the game if not winning.

Los Angeles swept Washington in a 3-game set at the end of April. The Nationals are sitting on three straight losses to the Braves, who are closing the gap in the NL East. Take Los Angeles to upset the Nationals in this one. Take the under on 8 runs.

Milwaukee Brewers @ Pittsburgh Pirates

After a late surge, Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers (74-72, 28-43 road) are somehow back in the mix for a postseason berth. They head into Tuesday’s game tied with Pittsburgh (74-72, 42-30 home) at 2.5 games out of the final Wild Card place.

Pittsburgh has gone into free fall over the last month and now looks unlikely to be play on in October. However, with their ace A.J. Burnett (15-7, 3.66) taking the mound on Tuesday they look a good bet to squeeze past the Brewers. Take the underdog Pirates at +105 in this one. Take the over on 7.5 runs.

National League Round Up: Atlanta (85-63, 42-31 road) is favored over Miami (65-83, 34-39 home) and looks a safe bet. Ian Kennedy pitches for Arizona (72-74, 36-36 home) giving the D’Backs a decided advantage over San Diego (71-76, 31-41 road). St. Louis (77-70, 43-29 home) hosts Houston (48-99, 16-56 road) and should win in what will be the Astros’ 100th loss of the year. Philadelphia (74-74, 37-37 road) will be underdog in New York but Monday night’s win will spur the Phillies on to victory.

 

Oakland Athletics @ Detroit Tigers

Detroit will look to Max Scherzer to lead the team to a much-needed victory over Oakland.

Detroit (77-69, 43-28 home) lost in Monday night’s rescheduled game in Chicago, dropping the Tigers to three games back of the AL Central-leading White Sox. It’s now looking increasingly unlikely Detroit will be playing come October.

Oakland (84-62, 40-31 road) on the other hand continues to hold tight to its postseason hopes. A series win over Baltimore, and an 8-2 record over the last 10 has the A’s headed for Detroit on a roll. Expect a slight bump in the road as Max Scherzer (16-6, 3.77 ERA) takes the mound on Tuesday night. Go with the favorite Tigers in this one.

Texas Rangers @ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Texas (87-59, 40-32 road) has been quiet of late. That’s what happens when you consistently go about your business. The Rangers have led the AL West since April 9, and rarely looked like relinquishing that lead. Oakland currently sits three games back, and has seven still to play against the Texas side, so it’s not quite a done deal yet.

Tuesday sees the Rangers enter a game as a rare underdog, something that can be attributed to Jered Weaver (17-4, 2.74 ERA) taking the mound for the Angels (80-67, 40-32 home). Without Weaver, the Angels would have been long-gone in the hunt for the postseason. As it stands, the Orange County side is just three games back of the final Wild Card berth. Despite the pitcher’s record, take Texas in this one. This is a team looking to close out.

American League Round Up: Andy Pettitte (3-3, 3.22 ERA) returns from injury to start for the Yankees (83-63, 43-29 home). The Bombers are favored over Toronto (66-79, 30-41 road) and there’s very little to suggest going against the odds. Tampa Bay (78-69, 39-33 home) has fallen behind the pace and will need to beat Boston (67-81, 34-38 road) to stay in the hunt. Monday night’s loss was a reminder that the Red Sox can still play spoiler. Take the favored Rays in this one though. Meanwhile, expect Baltimore and the White Sox to win respectively.

Baseball and College Football Kick Start Exciting Weekend

 

Ahead of the weekend’s busy NCAA and NFL football schedules, Friday night provides bettors with some captivating matchups. We start with the race for the American League Wild Card, a contest that continues to get closer by the day, before heading to Vegas for a college football teaser.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays @ New York Yankees

Tampa Bay's trip to New York this weekend could have huge implications in the races for both the AL East title and the vacant Wild Card places.

Tampa Bay (77-66, 39-32 road) arrives in New York on the back of Thursday afternoon’s 14-inning epic against Baltimore. The Rays came out on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline, losing a third-straight against the Orioles. They now sit four games out of the second Wild Card place, behind Oakland, New York, Baltimore and Los Angeles Angels.

The Yankees (81-62, 40-34 home) arrive home from a 5-5 road trip that concluded with a 2-0 win in Boston last night. It was the first time in close to a month that the Yankees had recorded back-to-back wins. The win was enough to keep pace with the Orioles at the top of the AL East, after the Birds’ win earlier in the day.

Tampa has had New York’s number this season, winning 9 of 15. New York though has gone 4-2 against the Rays at the Stadium. Home advantage could well play a part not just tonight but throughout the weekend.

Both teams send their aces to the mound on Friday as David Price (17-5, 2.54 ERA) faces C.C. Sabathia (13-5, 3.56). Sabathia took the win when he faced Price in New York on May 10. Price beat Sabathia, again in New York, on June 7.

Sabathia and New York start as favorites with the moneyline reading -130 (New York) and +110 (Tampa Bay). The over/under is set at 8 runs. Take New York, both to beat the spread and win straight up, whilst going with the under.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles @ Oakland Athletics

Baltimore's epic win over Tampa on Thursday could hinder any chances of defeating Oakland on Friday night.

Baltimore (81-62, 39-30 road) makes the long trip to the West Coast after Thursday afternoon’s marathon victory over the Rays. Oakland (82-61, 45-26 home) fell to the Angels Thursday and will be looking to bounce back from the rare defeat.

Baltimore has held its own in the race for the AL East and a Wild Card berth but Oakland has been otherworldly. The team is 56-26 (.683) since June 10, and has only lost 15 games since the All-Star break.

Both teams send LHPs to the mound. For Baltimore, former-D’Back Joe Saunders (8-11, 4.22) will start. He’s 2-1 since joining the Orioles with a 4.24 ERA. Tom milone (12-10, 3.90) goes for the A’s. He’s limited opponents to two runs or less in three of his last four starts.

The A’s are -1.5 favorites with a +145 to beat the spread and +145 to win straight up. It’s hard to see a tired Baltimore team that has traveled 3,000 miles with a beat-up bullpen getting much out of this one. Put your money on Oakland. The 7.5-point over/under could really go either way. If it goes over, it’ll be because of Oakland’s bats, not Baltimore’s. Let’s say a tentative over.

NCAAF: Washington State @ UNLV

Washington State QB Jeff Tuel is unlikely to start, but the Cougars are still 8-point favorites as they visit UNLV.

Away from baseball, get ready for NCAA football on Saturday by taking a look at this Friday night (9 PM ET) fixture.

Washington State (1-1, 0-1 road) heads to Sam Boyd Stadium to take on UNLV (0-2, 0-2 home). UNLV has had a disappointing start to the season and will be looking for a home win at the third time of asking. For the record, the Rebels open the season with four straight at home.

After being dismissed by a Brigham Young side on its way to the AP rankings, the Cougars notched a victory over Eastern Washington last weekend. The Pac-12 side enters the game as 8-point favorites. Take the road team to beat the spread and win outright, while taking the under at 55.5 points.

 

That’s it. You’re all set. Friday’s night’s action should get you well and truly in the mood for Saturday’s full slate of college football and Sunday’s NFL action. Of course, Major League Baseball continues all weekend with some vital matchups.

If you’re looking for something interesting in each, go ahead and give these a try:

NCAAF:  (Saturday, 8 PM ET) #20 Notre Dame (2-0, 1-0 road) @ #10 Michigan State (2-0, 1-0 home)

NFL: (Sunday, 1 PM ET) Baltimore Ravens (1-0, 0-0 road) @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-0, 0-0 home)

MLB: (Friday – Sunday) St. Louis Cardinals (76-68, 33-39 road) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (74-70, 38-34 home)

Each of these fixtures is rife with importance and promises to be a close encounter worth testing oddsmakers’ lines over the weekend.

AL Wild Card Race Getting Tighter

Tuesday night is all about baseball. The new college football season enjoys a few days rest before returning on Thursday (Pittsburgh at Cincinnati) while the NFL kicks off tomorrow with the Cowboys at Giants. That leaves bettors starting the new post-Labor Day week with baseball, baseball, baseball.

With the end of season less than a month from now, the Wild Card picture in the American League is getting fuzzier and fuzzier. Tonight sees a six card slate of teams involved in the postseason hunt, plenty for you to wager on.

New York Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays

Alex Cobb and the Tampa Bay Rays will look to gain ground with a win over the Yankees.

New York (76-58, 35-30 road) dropped last night’s opener to Tampa Bay (74-61, 36-30 home) 4-3 despite the return of Alex Rodriguez. The defeat, combined with a Baltimore victory, now has the Yankees just one game ahead of the Orioles for the lead in the AL East. Meanwhile, Tampa is just 2 ½ games back. A victory for the Rays here will be a bonus for both trailing teams, and will put the Yanks seriously on the rocks.

Freddy Garcia (7-5, 4.90 ERA) pitches for the Yankees – who have lost 10 of the last 16 – after two disappointing outings against the White Sox and Indians that saw him pitch less than five innings both games. Alex Cobb (8-8, 4.39 ERA) goes for the Rays. He’s 4-0 in his last six starts and is a threat to win any game.

New York is +1 ½ point underdogs at -180 odds, but it looks safer to take the Rays in this one. The over/under is set at 8 ½ runs. Take the over; New York is averaging nearly eight runs over the past 10 games while Tampa is averaging nearly seven in that same period.

Baltimore Orioles @ Toronto Blue Jays

Baltimore (75-59, 38-29) will look to strengthen its current position as second Wild Card with a second successive victory over Toronto (60-74, 33-33 home).

Baltimore lefty Zach Britton (4-1, 4.80 ERA) lost last time out against the Yankees but he’ll be marginal favorite over Carlos Villanueva (7-4, 3.10) on the grounds that Toronto’s offense has been spluttering since Jose Bautista returned to IR list. Take the -105 moneyline in favor of the Orioles, alongside the under (at -120) for 8 ½ runs; these teams aren’t likely to light the scoreboard up, as seen by Monday night’s 4-0 scoreline.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ Oakland Athletics

Jarrod Parker will look to guide the Wild Card-leading A's over the Angels.

Good play of late has the Angels (72-63, 36-34 road) back in discussions for the Wild Card. Oakland (76-58, 42-28) currently leads the race and is 3 ½ games up on Los Angeles.

The Angels took Monday night’s game 8-3 with Vernon Wells and Chris Ianetta – the bottom of the lineup – combining for five RBIs. Zack Greinke (12-5, 3.82 ERA) will pitch for the Angels. He’s 3-2 with a 4.82 ERA since joining the Halos from Milwaukee. He’ll be up against Jarrod Parker (9-7, 3.72 ERA) who has pitched three solid games on the bounce.

Los Angeles is favorite (-1 ½ at +135 odds) but Oakland’s -155 moneyline could be worth a bet; the A’s have been playing tough and will be looking to put distance between themselves and their California rivals.

Elsewhere: Detroit hosts Cleveland looking to once again to go into a tie with Chicago on top of the AL Central. It will take a Tigers win and a White Sox loss at home to Minnesota. Both open as favorites and it’s hard to see past two wins here. Texas, meanwhile, continues its charge to the AL West title with the second of four in Kansas City, a game in which the Rangers are evens to win.

Meanwhile: On the other side of the AL/NL divide, things are equally as tough. Cincinnati is all but assured of the NL Central but everything else is up for grabs. St. Louis (73-62, 41-26 home) is ½ game ahead of Los Angeles for the final Wild Card slot so tonight’s game against the Mets (64-71, 34-36 road) is a must-win. St. Louis is favorite (-1 ½ at +135) and looks like the better bet. The Dodgers (73-63, 38-31 home) meanwhile host San Diego (62-74, 29-41 road) and look set to cash in on their favored status (-1 ½ at -110). Tuesday looks like it’s worth sticking with expectations in the National League.