Clash of the Titans
Two of the three American League division leaders square off as the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles duel in a three-game set at Camden Yards beginning Tuesday night.
Both teams have provided significant value to bettors this season; the Rangers (62-44) have won the most money of any team in the majors (+2,378), while the Orioles (59-45) rank third in units won at +1,338. They’re also a combined 71-33 at home this season – providing a distinct advantage to the Orioles, who are coming off losing two of three in Toronto.
The Rangers took three of four the last time these teams met, with 11 of their 23 runs in the series coming in just two innings – a five-run sixth on April 14, and a six-run seventh on April 16. Relievers earned all three wins for Texas.
Fresh off making a significant trade for the majors’ best reliever – and stunningly missing out on an upgrade at catcher – the Cleveland Indians look to extend their AL Central Division lead with a four-game series against the visiting Minnesota Twins.
The Indians swept the Oakland Athletics out of town to remain 4 1/2 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers, who have won six straight but didn’t gain a stitch of ground over the weekend. And that may not happen for a while if the Indians continue their divisional dominance (30-13 vs. Central foes) against a Twins team that is just 11-25 against divisional opponents.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, consider the teams’ respective run differentials: The Indians rank first in the American League at +97, while the Twins are second last (-79), ahead of only the Athletics (-82).
Big Game Fishing
The Miami Marlins were big players ahead of Monday’s trade deadline – and they’ll put their new lineup to the test this week as they play a three-game set against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
The Marlins acquired starters Andrew Cashner and Collin Rea in a seven-player blockbuster with the San Diego Padres as they look to close the gap between themselves and the NL East-leading Washington Nationals. And while this may seem crazy, the Marlins’ record since May 1 (45-37) is nearly identical to that of the Cubs (46-36), considered by many to be the World Series favorite.
WAG of the Week
Los Angeles Angels starter C.J. Wilson won’t throw a pitch this season, but he’s still doing just fine – thanks in no small part to wife Lisalla Montenegro Wilson.
* Lance McCullers has been baseball’s top Under option over the past two months, going 0-9 against the total over that stretch. That has been mostly his doing; the 22-year-old has allowed two runs or fewer seven times over that span, and is coming off three straight starts of one run against. With 100 strikeouts over 76 innings, he should be a solid Under bet the rest of the way.
* One of the top pitching matchups of the week goes Wednesday evening at Comerica Park, as Detroit’s Michael Fulmer takes on Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale – provided that Sale doesn’t end up on another team at Monday’s deadline. Sale is looking for his first victory since July 2, while Detroit has won six straight with Fulmer – the prohibitive favorite for AL Rookie of the Year – on the hill.
* One of the leaders in the NL Rookie of the Year race is having a sensational stretch himself. Colorado Rockies SS Trevor Story has been on a tear, belting six home runs and driving in 15 over his previous 13 games. The majority of that damage came at Coors Field (surprise, surprise), and he’ll have a great opportunity to add to those totals with the Rockies kicking off an eight-game homestead Tuesday against the Dodgers.
* Much has been made of the Washington Nationals’ bullpen issues, but perhaps more attention should be focused on the struggles of right fielder Bryce Harper. The defending National League MVP has a positively putrid .170/.295/.318 slash line in July, and has only six hits – including four singles – since the All-Star break. He’ll look to get going this week with three games in Arizona and another three at home against San Francisco.
Over is 3-0 in Jose Berrios’ three career big-league starts. Berrios is expected to return to major-league action Monday against host Cleveland.