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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 3:00 PM

The media is starting to play up the potentially exciting pennant race in the NL West. All five teams are within a stone’s throw of each other. Any of Arizona, Colorado, San Diego, San Francisco, or the Los Angeles Dodgers could get things going in the second half of the season and win the division.

The problem is, all five of these teams right now are BAD!

They all have records near .500. But, that’s partly because they play so many games against each other, and partly because there are many other bad teams in the National League. Let me give you some examples of how poor this group is once you adjust for context. One of the hallmarks of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping is knowing how to see reality when others around you are losing their heads.

*The NL West can’t hide their weaknesses when they face the American League. You can go 50/50 against each other…and you can get some wins against the likes of Miami, Milwaukee, the Mets and the Cubs in the other NL divisions. Against the superior league, you’d better step up and be ready to play. Heading into Tuesday action, nobody in the NL West had a winning record in Interleague action. The five-team composite was 18-32.

*Arizona is currently in first place largely because of good fortune in close games. The D-backs are 42-40 for the season, with a 18-12 record in one-run games. That kind of luck usually doesn’t last. And, the fact that Arizona is 24-28 in games decided by more than one-run is likely to matter very soon. Without luck, Arizona probably isn’t a .500 caliber team.

*Colorado and the LA Dodgers have both had home heavy schedules. Colorado was below .500 for the season despite playing 44 home games and 39 road games. What’s going to happen when the schedule finally evens out? The Dodgers were five games under .500 despite playing 46 home games and only 35 games! Maybe they really are about to put things together. They’ll have to do that on the ROAD if they’re going to be a rags-to-riches story.

*San Francisco has plenty of proven experience given their two recent World Championships. But, things really seem to have fallen apart in recent weeks. They’re in the hunt because of earlier results…and because nobody in this division can get anything going. Believe it not, the Giants have been the worst team in the National League over the last month.

*San Diego is the only team we haven’t talked about yet. They had a nice run there for a few games. Then they couldn’t impress this past weekend against horrible Miami! You know, the Marlins have a better record over their last 30 games than anyone in the NL West!

Here’s my handicapping advice for this division in the coming days:

*Go against any of these five teams when their least effective starting pitchers are on the mound. And, look for spots to take Overs because the worst pitchers on these teams have been really bad.

*Go against any of these five teams when they’re facing the ace of the opposing staff.

*Don’t be afraid to lay -1.5 runs against any of these teams when they’re playing in clear road blowout situations.

*Only take these teams in value spots when their best starting pitcher is on the mound. You CAN make money backing teams in the NL West. You just have to be very careful about picking your spots.

*Be on the lookout for a breakout…because I do believe that ONE of the five will put the pieces together soon and start to get some distance. That team will have a hot few weeks…and you’ll want to be riding that streak.

*In the same vein, be on the lookout for a collapse. I think at least one, and maybe TWO of these teams are ready to crumble for a disastrous second half to the season. Maybe San Francisco’s already crumbled. Maybe Arizona’s about to.

If you’re having trouble riding the ebb and flow of the Major League season, additional guidance is always available here at the website. You can purchase my top plays nightly with your major credit card.

Back again this weekend with either a football or baseball report. I’ll spend time on both sports through the summer as we gear up for the new college and pro seasons. Thanks again for all of your hard work here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. I hope you’re printing out every discussion so you can build a textbook you can refer to for years to come.

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