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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 7:00 AM

The extreme level of parity in the American League this year is likely to create an amazing Wildcard race where several teams within arm’s reach of 85-win potential jockey throughout the season to sneak into the play-in game. Two of those teams square off Wednesday Night on ESPN2 when the Los Angeles Angels visit the Cleveland Indians.

*Los Angeles is going to have a tough time chasing down the Oakland A’s in the AL West. Oakland has one of the best offenses and best pitching staff’s in all of baseball, making them close to slump proof. The Halos are clearly talented enough to win a Wildcard…and are arguably the team most likely to get one given their offense and their play so far this season. But, the margin for error is so tight that we may be thinking differently about that come July 4.

*Cleveland won the first game of this series Monday Night to push themselves back over the .500 mark. This year, that’s in the race! And, given the stunning slide of the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers in recent days, the Indians are suddenly in the discussion to win their division. We’ll save that for another time because Detroit just looks to have too much talent to be a total washout. For now, Cleveland’s in the thick of the Wildcard discussion along with several other .500 type teams.

 

CURRENT WILDCARD PICTURE

Los Angeles Angels (strong prospects)

Kansas City (on the move)

Baltimore (can they be trusted?

NY Yankees (where’s the offense?)

Seattle (sleeper in Seattle!)

Cleveland (in the hunt)

Texas (already wilting in the heat)

All of those teams were .500 or better through Monday Night’s action. Only two Wildcard spots will be available come October for a dramatic play-in game. (Current divisional leaders are Toronto, Detroit, and Oakland…divisional leaders are locked into playing a full opening round series)

If you’re a baseball fan, you’re going to be watching this Angels/Indians game tonight on ESPN2. So let’s crunch some numbers!

 

OFFENSE

LA Angels: 4.68 runs per game, .326 on-base, .413 slugging

Cleveland: 4.45 runs per game, .329 on-base, .396 slugging

Two elite offenses. The Angels have been right up there with Toronto and Oakland all season with the best “park-adjusted” scoring units. Cleveland isn’t far behind them, as you can see above. Cleveland is a little better at getting guys on base than the Halos, but doesn’t have quite the same power. It hasn’t been a great year overall for offenses in Major League Baseball, but these two are getting the job done.

 

WEDNESDAY’S PITCHERS

C.J. Wilson: 3.50 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8.4 K-Rate

Justin Masterson: 5.05 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 8.1 K-Rate

Wilson has been inconsistent ever since joining the Angels. Even this year, he rarely throws like a “3.50 ERA” pitcher. It’s either much better than that, or he gets rocked. Cleveland may have the quality of offense that can rock him. Everybody but the worst offenses have been lighting up Masterson. He’s having a Justin Verlander type meltdown, though he’s still get strikeouts at least. Definitely a game to consider the Over given the high offensive quality and the potential vulnerability with the pitchers.

The side or total here may or may not be part of the final Wednesday package here at NETWORK. We can tell you that it’s important you take care of business EARLY! There are EIGHT day games Wednesday, including important matchups like Kansas City/Detroit (a series we previewed back on Monday), San Francisco/Chicago White Sox (a series we previewed back on Tuesday), and Texas/Oakland. Everything else is under the lights, giving Las Vegas bettors a great opportunity to magnify their one-day profits with split sessions.

You can always purchase game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. We have packages that take you through the All-Star Break, or all the way through the season.

Here’s the rest of this week’s baseball preview schedule here in the NOTEBOOK…

Thursday: MLB Series Preview…Atlanta at Washington

Friday: MLB Series Preview…Seattle at Kansas City

Saturday: MLB TV Preview…Detroit at Cleveland (prime time on FOX)

Sunday: MLB TV Preview…Texas at LA Angels (prime time on ESPN)

July will bring our first college football conference previews. Then, in August, we’ll have eight separate divisional previews for the NFL. Baseball will mix in with football during those busy months. NETWORK is at your service 365 days a year…making sure you always GET THE MONEY!

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