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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, June 4, 2018 at 4:00 PM

You students here in my Advanced College of Sports Betting and Handicapping have surely noticed that the Seattle Mariners have been on a tear lately. The mainstream media has mostly been oblivious to this run. As we speak, Seattle leads defending World Champion Houston in the AL West. I would guess that it was a 100% consensus that there was NO WAY something like this would happen 60 games into the 2018 season.

It’s not like Houston has fallen apart! The Astros are still a popular choice to defend their title. Justin Verlander is having a historic season. Yet, somehow, SEATTLE is ahead of them in the standings, as the two teams prepare to start a short series Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

Your assignment today is to figure out what’s happening with the 2018 Mariners. I’m about to do some of that work for you. But, you need to do the rest. I’ll give you this hint. Seattle’s strong recent run has come mostly against a VERY weak schedule. Since starting the season 9-8…

Seattle won 2 of 3 at Texas

Seattle won 2 of 3 at the Chicago White Sox

Seattle won 3 of 4 vs. Cleveland (impressive, though CLE has been disappointing)

Seattle won 2 of 3 vs. Oakland

Seattle LOST 2 of 3 to the Los Angeles Angels

Seattle won 2 of 3 at Toronto

Seattle LOST 2 of 3 at Detroit

Seattle won a one-game makeup at Minnesota

Seattle went 1-1 at home vs. Texas

Seattle won 3 of 4 vs. Detroit

Seattle won 2 of 3 at Oakland

Seattle swept Minnesota 3-0

Seattle went 2-2 at home vs. Texas

Seattle swept Tampa Bay 3-0

That’s 28-14 baseball (67%) since the 9-8 start, creating a current a record of 37-22.

While that kind of stretch is impressive no matter who you’re playing, what you DON’T see on that list is teams like Houston, Boston, the New York Yankees, or any tough opponents in Interleague. In pure Power Ratings, Seattle’s toughest opponent there was Cleveland. But, the Indians have been performing well below expectations so far this season.

The opponent on that list with the best current won-lost record is the Los Angeles Angels. Seattle LOST that series. Against teams who currently have losing records listed in that stretch, Seattle went 22-9.

At the very least, we know that Seattle has improved to a level where they’ve been offering real value against inferior opposition. That doesn’t make them a real contender. It’s possible to be a .500 caliber team that beats the teams below them but loses to the teams above them. Still, you can make good money with that kind of team as long as the market doesn’t pay them the appropriate amount of respect.

So…now YOU know that much. Your homework is to figure out what’s been working, and decide if it can keep working against better opposition.

STARTING PITCHING

Do a complete diagnostic on the rotation, focusing on innings-pitched-per-start, strikeout rate, earned run average, WHIP, and performances vs. different caliber opposition.

RELIEF PITCHING

Study how the manager uses his staff from the sixth inning on. This is one of the big hidden keys to handicapping success in the current game. If “unheralded” teams can get outs before the closer comes in…they’re going to cash tickets for you. (If big-name teams DON’T have this skill set, you’re going to make a lot of money fading them.) Is Seattle’s staff ready to beat some real contenders? Or, are they just better than the likes of Minnesota and Oakland?

OFFENSE

It can be hard to properly evaluate the offenses of the West Coast teams because many of you see them less often on TV (at least the games are prime time here in Las Vegas). Those parks up and down the Pacific Coast are all pitchers’ parks…meaning hitting stats are deflated. Focus particularly on Seattle’s road offense, or any park-adjusted stats you can find. Seattle enters the week 17-10 on the road, which is impressive no matter who you’re playing.

I want to express a sense of urgency here. We’re talking about this TODAY because THIS is what’s coming up for Seattle the next few weeks:

Two games at Houston

Four games at Tampa Bay

Three games vs. the LA Angels

Four games vs. Boston

Three games at the NY Yankees

Three games at Boston

Brutal! Houston just went through a very difficult schedule stretch. Seattle is just about to start its death march. As we speak, we’re likely looking at the high-water mark for the Mariners in terms of games over .500. It’s going to be tough to break even vs. that stretch. Recognizing whether or Seattle can hold its own will help you make smart picks over the next few weeks. 

If you’d like additional assistance, KELSO STURGEON’S BEST BETS can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters office by calling office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. I do have great rates for extended packages that go through the NBA Finals, the MLB all-star break, or the full baseball season.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your class attendance and diligent homework effort. I’ll see you again at the end of the week. With basketball winding down, we’ll spend a lot more time on baseball in the coming weeks, as well as early preparation for college and pro football. The work you do on football in June, July, and August will help you make the most of September through January on the gridiron.

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