Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, August 26, 2013 at 7:00 AM
We have a brief window of time to update Major League Baseball today in the NOTEBOOK. The NFL dress rehearsals are over…and what looks to be an exciting college football season starts on Thursday. Football is KING in the world of Las Vegas betting…so we’ll be heavily focused on football for the next several months. Let’s take advantage of a non-football day to get caught up on the pennant races.
With a little over 30 games to go for everyone, it’s still Boston and Tampa Bay who are neck-and-neck atop this killer division. You usually have to be at least 20 games over the .500 mark to reach the postseason. Both teams are there already…meaning they will be in pretty good shape as long as they can just break even the rest of the way. Of course, winning the division is MUCH better than settling for a Wildcard…so it’s likely both teams will play better than .500 the rest of the way in an effort to dodge the coin flip play-in game.
Baltimore hasn’t been able to keep pace. You just can’t settle for break-even weeks when the teams you’re chasing are winning! The Orioles now have to play .667 ball to have a chance to catch the teams at the top. And, even that might not be enough. Math hasn’t eliminated them. But…the O’s better catch fire quick or they’re going to be on the outside looking in.
The New York Yankees have been in the news a lot lately. It’s now more about 95% likely that they won’t be making baseball news in October! Boston and Tampa Bay are about 90% likely to make the playoffs…and will probably be the only representatives from this division.
Detroit lifted its game recently to become the best team in the American League in most sharp Power Ratings. Cleveland is within theoretical striking distance if the Tigers fall apart. But, Detroit’s starting rotation has been so consistent, it’s hard to see a team-wide collapse. No way the whole rotation is going to slump at once!
Can Cleveland sneak into a Wildcard? Some methodologies have that as a 30% likelihood, others have it down closer to 20%. The key team in that discussion is probably Oakland. The Indians need to keep winning and hope the A’s slump in September.
Texas picked up its pace recently, and is now better than 90% to reach the postseason. They will still have a battle with Oakland on its hands to avoid the play-in game. Obviously the A’s are in a precarious postion…looking up at Texas but keeping Cleveland and Baltimore in the rear-view mirror in the Wildcard discussion.
BIG AL MATCHUPS COMING UP
Oakland at Detroit (starts Monday)
Baltimore at Boston (starts Tuesday)
Cleveland at Atlanta (starts Tuesday)
Cleveland at Detroit (starts Friday)
Tampa Bay at Oakland (starts Friday)
Detroit at Boston (starts Monday 9/2)
Baltimore at Cleveland (starts Monday 9/2)
Texas at Oakland (starts Monday 9/2)
Despite suffering key injuries, the Braves are still a virtual lock to win the division. If they plummeted to 10-20 over their last 30 games, the second place Nats would still probably have to win about 70% over the last month to catch them.
The exciting three-team race fans have been watching all years continues. Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Cincinnati are all capable of closing strong to win the division. Barring a miracle, the other two will be Wildcards who have to face each other in a play-in game.
Stunning statheads and math geeks who have been calling for “regression” for weeks, the Los Angeles Dodgers have continued to play at a very high level with a mostly healthy lineup. They have all but wrapped up the division barring a string of injuries to their stars. Arizona may not be capable of catching them from behind even if the Dodgers slump.
Arguably, the only important NL games left are the ones the NL Central contenders play against each other. There will be drama this week as Cincinnati visits St. Louis starting Monday, followed by St. Louis visiting Pittsburgh starting Friday. On Labor Day September 2, the Cards and Reds begin a rematch in Cincinnati. And, yes, that’s followed by the Pirates and Cards in a rematch that begins September 6. Big couple of weeks in the NL Central!
JIM HURLEY loves handicapping late season baseball because he knows the lines are very soft. Las Vegas oddsmakers are worried about football because that’s where all their exposure is. They accept baseball losses on the ledger. Hey, if sportsbooks are handing away money, you should be there to grab it!
Purchase game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you’d like to talk to a representative about full season baseball and football, call us in the office Monday at 1-800-323-4453.
Back Tuesday with some early college football prep work. A quick review of this week’s preview schedule for the colleges:
Thursday: North Carolina at South Carolina on ESPN
Friday: Texas Tech at SMU on ESPN
Saturday: Georgia at Clemson on ABC
Sunday: Ohio at Louisville on ESPN
Monday: Florida State at Pittsburgh on ESPN
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