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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, June 14, 2015 at 7:00 PM

If you haven’t been paying much attention to Major League Baseball, it’s time to start! The pennant races are heating up…in part because some slow starters are putting together some very good recent results.

There’s no better example of that than the resurgent Texas Rangers…

*After the action of Sunday May 3, the Rangers were 8-16, and looked to all the world like a doormat. Their state rivals down in Houston were developing into a surprise contender, while the Rangers were becoming “the new Astros.” Locals were assuming the worst because there hadn’t been much enthusiasm to start the season anyway (Vegas had projected a 76-86 record this year).

*After the action of Tuesday May 19, the Texas Rangers were 16-23. That’s seven games under .500…which is better than eight games under .500. But, still, nothing about the first 40 games of the season suggested that Texas was going to become a team that mattered in the American League West. In a league of parity, a record like that puts you behind almost everyone else. They were still more likely to win around 65-70 games rather than make a meaningful run.

Then…TEXAS CAUGHT FIRE!

Two wins in Boston

A three-game road sweep of the New York Yankees

Two out of three in Cleveland

Three out of four at home against Boston in a return engagement

Two out of three at home against the Chicago White Sox

Two out of three at home against the Kansas City Royals

After losing a home series to Oakland, they came right back and won one against Minnesota

Note that this wasn’t a hot streak against creampuffs. The Rangers swept the Yankees in New York, and took two-of-three from current AL betting favorite Kansas City. Entering what is now an extremely exciting four-game showdown with the Los Angeles Dodgers (the first two in Texas, the last two at Chavez Ravine), the Rangers are now very much part of the pennant race.

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about the marquee series if this week’s Interleague free-for-all…

 

OFFENSE

LA Dodgers: 4.42 runs per game, .335 on-base, .437 slugging

Texas: 4.61 runs per game, .323 on-base, .402 slugging

Two excellent offenses. Remember that the Dodgers don’t get to use a Designated Hitter (except when visiting AL teams), and have to play at home in a pitcher’s park. So, on a neutral field…the Dodgers have the better offense. Give them that nod as you handicap these games. Both teams can score….but the Dodgers are slightly better in a head-to-head matchup once you de-pollute the data. Hey…check out those edges in on-base and slugging for the NL team! Scary to think what the Dodgers would do if they got to play 81 games this year in Arlington.

 

MONDAY’S PITCHERS

Carlos Frias: 3.86 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 5.2 K-Rate, 5.8 IP-per-Start

Yovani Gallardo: 3.45 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 7.0 K-Rate 5.8 IP-per-Start

Frias had one horrible start this season (10 earned runs allowed vs. SD in 4 innings), but has otherwise been pretty effective. That poor WHIP is obviously a concern. Four straight quality starts for Gallardo. Unfortunately for these pitchers the game is in Arlington, where June and July scoring can soar through the roof. The nod should probably go to Gallardo off the WHIP and K-rate data. This might be a game that’s decided by the bullpens if weather conditions favor the bats.

 

TUESDAY’S PITCHERS

Brett Anderson: 3.57 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 6.2 K-Rate 5.7 IP-per-Start

Chi Chi Gonzalez: 0.42 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 3.3 K-Rate 7.2 IP-per-Start

Chi Chi Gonzalez has been a great story so far. But, guys with K-Rates below 4.00 usually don’t stay great stories for long. He’ll be pitching to contact against the potent Dodgers bats in a great hitter’s park. Unless a change in prevailing weather conditions throws a monkey wrench into the mix, he’s likely to fall back to earth here. Can Anderson get the job done?

 

WEDNESDAY’S PITCHERS

Wandy Rodriguez: 3.03 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 7.4 K-Rate 5.9 IP-per-Start

Clayton Kershaw: 3.21 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 11.6 K-Rate 6.7 IP-per-Start

We move to Los Angeles for the last two games…which represents one of the most stark situational changes you can have in this sport. Would you have guessed that Rodriguez had the better ERA of these two pitchers? Kershaw continues to get sloppy a bit too often even while compiling stellar strikeout numbers. Kershaw will be a pricey market favorite, which might offer some value on the road underdog. Obviously, if either team won the first two games of the series, look for the bounce-back team here.

 

THURSDAY’S PITCHERS

Colby Lewis: 4.37 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 6.8 K-Rate 6.2 IP-per-Start

Zack Greinke: 1.95 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 7.7 K-Rate 6.7 IP-per-Start

Lewis is coming off three quality starts, which followed three poor ones. So, his numbers don’t really paint the right picture. He’s either awful or solid…and that averages out to what you see above. He’d better bring all of “solid” he can muster against Greinke, who’s putting up Cy Young caliber numbers so far this season. Big edge on the mound to Greinke, who the market better start treating like Kershaw.

JIM HURLEY is likely to have at least one big play in this series. But, the busy Interleague card is going to offer up multiple great options every night. You can purchase each night’s BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours.

Back to basketball tomorrow here in the NOTEBOOK. Here’s what’s ahead this week…

Tuesday: NBA Game Six Championship Preview (will this be the end?!)

Wednesday: MLB Big Game Preview…either Tampa Bay at Washington, St. Louis at Minnesota or San Francisco at Seattle

Thursday: Either NBA Game Seven Championship Preview (for a Friday finale if it goes the distance) or MLB Notes as we transition to baseball only until our college football summer previews begin.

Just when you think you have baseball figured out, a new surprise jumps up and makes everything interesting. Oddsmakers are constantly surprised in this sport…JIM HURLEY constantly cashes tickets. Make your move NOW to get some BIG, JUICY WINNERS!

 

Be sure to follow:

Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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