Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 1:26 PM
THE MLB REPORT: WHAT TEAMS TO WATCH IN THE SEASON'S SECOND HALF
MORE NFL TEAM UPDATES: WE CHECK OUT THE 'SKINS, CHIEFS AND RAIDERS
Okay, so everyone's taken a deep breath and, come Friday, Major-League Baseball will be back on course for the "second half" of this here-and-now 2017 campaign.
But you want to know what teams will rise and which ones will fade from playoff contention and here's some quick-hitter thoughts as we delve into a division-by-division look:
East - The Washington Nationals (52-36, .591) would love to be the top-seeded team in this year's NL playoffs but getting their hands on a high-quality closer (of course) will be the key. Tell us right now that the Nats will acquire San Diego's Brad Hand and we say Dusty Baker's club will play .650 ball the rest of the way. Meanwhile, don't expect a heckuva lot of up-or-down movement from the other palookas in this sad-sack division.
Central - Maybe we'll be kidding ourselves but something tells us the Pittsburgh Pirates (42-47, .472) have a major run in 'em between these potent outfield bats and a rotation that could get stabilized if RHP Gerrit Cole can just stay healthy.
West - Amazing the Los Angeles Dodgers (61-29, .678) continue to play at an all-world pace but better believe there will be an "adjustment" and so folks should be wary about laying big prices with LA in the coming weeks. Plus, when the dust settles Colorado (52-39, .571) will be closer to an 81-81 team than a 90-win squad because that young starting pitching is gonna wilt in the summer heat.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and they will get you plenty of winners in the days/weeks ahead. All you really need to do is check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 and cash in big. Plus, the Football Season isn't far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear on Thursday, August 3rd with the NFL Hall of Fame Game between the Dallas Cowboys versus the Arizona Cardinals.
East - Everyone wants to know what direction the New York Yankees (45-41, .523) will be heading in this second half of the year following that horrid last three weeks of play and we say Joe Girardi's club probably plays no better than .500 ball, thanks to a wobbly starting rotation and those major questions at first base. If Yanks deal off a prospect or two and land someone such as - say, 1B Justin Bour (Miami) - than maybe we'll change our current opinion.
Central - Okay, so we believe there's gonna be some second-half life from the Pirates in the NL Central and now mark us down for a pro-Detroit Tigers vote here. It's true that Detroit (39-48, .448) has staggered badly with a 16-28 road record and a minus 31 runs differential but there's veteran bats that could heat up and we're simply not buying the RHP Justin Verlander trade rumors. "Buy" Detroit.
West - Will there be any life in the Texas Rangers (43-45, .489) the second half of this '17 season? The recent return of LHP Cole Hamels is encouraging and don't forget that RHP Yu Darvish is an All-Star but unless the Rangers - like the Nationals - can get their mitts on a top-shelf closer than don't expect 'em playing .600-plus ball anytime soon.
NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM GLANCES
It is summertime and that means the annual Jim Sez report on all 32 NFL teams with our quick-hitter looks continuing today with the Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders ... and check out our quickie pointspread ditties too. Note that last year's SU (straight-up) records appear right next to the team name below:
WASHINGTON (8-7-1) - From the not-quite-breaking-news department: The QB Kirk Cousins long-term contract situation remains unresolved although the 'Skins slinger will be playing a second straight year under the franchise tag (that's $23.9 million this season) but if you're looking for other news fronts than consider slot receiver Jamison Crowder could get time out wide whenever Washington's not in a three-receiver set.
Pointspread Notes - Last year's 'Skins cranked out a 10-6 ATS (against the spread) that featured a spiffy 6-2 away spread mark. Overall, Washington finished 4-2 ATS in divisional games and 6-4 ATS outside the NFC East en route to the team's best spread record since the 2012 campaign (11-6 ATS).
KANSAS CITY (12-5) - The Chiefs were busy making news this week when it was announced that Brett Veach - formerly the team's co-director of player personnel - would be the new general manager replacing the recently released John Dorsey. Now, Veach has some high standards when you consider the Chiefs went 43-21 in Dorsey's four years on the GM job.
Pointspread Notes - KayCee's 6-2 ATS away mark last year improved the Chiefs to a sterling 24-12 road spread mark the past four years. Overall, Kansas City registered a 9-7-1 ATS record last year and that made it six times in the last seven years that KC played .500-or-better spread football.
OAKLAND (12-5) - One year after the 2016-ending injury to QB Derek Carr, folks want to know what's the backup plan in the event Carr gets hurt again in '17? The recent rumblings out of Raiders-land is that former Buffalo Bills bust EJ Manuel is getting a long look at #2 over second-year pro Connor Cook but don't be surprised if this AFC West crew brings aboard a veteran slinger off another roster sometime next month.
Pointspread Notes - Last year's Raiders started off 7-3 versus the vig but the silver-and-black registered just a 3-4 spread mark from late November on to finish up at 10-7 ATS and that came on the heels of back-to-back 8-8 ATS seasons. Note that the Raiders finished 7-3 ATS away last year and that includes the 27-14 wild card playoff loss at 4-point favorite Houston.
NOTE: Baseball's top weekend series plus lots more NFL goodies in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.