The last week before the All-Star Break can be a very tricky time to bet on baseball. Teams are looking forward to their brief respite to take mini vacations with the family, heal some nagging injuries, and just escape the daily grind for a few days. Motivation is definitely a question mark, especially once it gets to the weekend. Players ticketed for a trip to Minneapolis for the All-Star festivities are busy getting family and friends together for the event and the ones making their first appearance at an All-Star Game are definitely looking forward to the honor.
Teams that had long and difficult first halves of the season, like those that struggled or those that went through a lot of ups and downs, can be extremely tough to get a read on this week, so it’s important for bettors to keep that in mind. It also makes the market a little bit tougher to price, so there could be value on teams that you think are still adequately motivated to play out the first half.
In case you missed it last weekend, I took a look at the Jeff Samardzija trade and what it means for the Athletics, Cubs, and took a passing glance at what it meant for the rest of the league. Samardzija shined in his Oakland debut and it looks like two of the five playoff spots in the American League will go to the Athletics and the Angels, who both enter play on Tuesday riding five-game winning streaks. The Angels would lead the AL East by 3.5 games and the AL Central by two games.
Let’s take a look on the injury front as some teams hope to use the All-Star Break to get healthy. If you ever needed proof that no pitcher is immune to injury, look no further than Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo, who made 29 or more starts for 10 consecutive seasons, is slated for Tommy John surgery with a UCL that is reportedly torn completely off the bone. Arroyo hadn’t pitched that badly this season, but a drop in velocity and a drop in throwing strikes had him in a precarious position and the pain became too much. At 37, it’s hard to see Arroyo coming back from this operation.
A couple of big injuries might impact the NL Central race as Joey Votto has been placed back on the disabled list with a quad injury. The Pirates also lost Gerrit Cole to a lat strain that will likely carry into mid-August. Votto is eligible to come off the DL on July 21. The Indians will be without Michael Bourn for the rest of July after the former speedster strained a hamstring over the weekend. This is the third hamstring problem for Bourn over the last calendar year and the Indians have to be concerned since his value comes solely from his legs. The Marlins bullpen, which has thrown the fourth-most innings in the league, lost A.J. Ramos to shoulder inflammation. Ricky Nolasco of the Twins will be sent for a MRI with elbow soreness in his pitching arm. Jon Niese, who dealt with shoulder fatigue in Spring Training for the Mets, is on the DL with AC joint inflammation and his 2014 season may be over. The Padres continue to suffer injuries as Everth Cabrera is back on the DL with a bad hamstring. The Blue Jays were dealt the biggest blow this week as Edwin Encarnacion suffered a quad injury that may carry over into August. CC Sabathia is expected to miss the rest of the season with a myriad of problems.
When looking at futures or midseason win totals after the All-Star Break, keep in mind that a large percentage of the remaining games will be played within the division. Every team plays 76 division games, 19 against each team, and a team’s proficiency, or lack thereof, in the division is going to play a major role.
Here’s what each team has done against the division to date:
Baltimore: 24-17 (5-5 v TOR, 4-2 v NYY, 8-4 v TB, 7-6 v BOS)
Toronto: 17-15 (5-5 v BAL, 3-6 v NYY, 5-2 v TB, 4-2 v BOS)
New York: 17-18 (2-4 v BAL, 6-3 v TOR, 3-7 v TB, 6-4 v BOS)
Tampa Bay: 18-20 (4-8 v BAL, 2-5 v TOR, 7-3 v NYY, 5-4 v BOS)
Boston: 16-22 (6-7 v BAL, 2-4 v TOR, 4-6 v NYY, 4-5 v TB)
Detroit: 19-15 (6-3 v KC, 4-4 v CLE, 5-4 v CWS, 4-4 v MIN)
Kansas City: 17-19 (3-6 v DET, 4-5 v CLE, 6-3 v CWS, 4-5 v MIN)
Cleveland: 16-18 (4-4 v DET, 5-4 v KC, 3-7 v CWS, 4-3 v MIN)
Chicago: 16-19 (4-5 v DET, 3-6 v KC, 7-3 v CLE, 2-5 v MIN)
Minnesota: 17-14 (4-4 v DET, 5-4 v KC, 3-4 v CLE, 5-2 v CWS)
Oakland: 21-14 (6-3 v LAA, 5-5 v SEA, 5-4 v TEX, 5-2 v HOU)
LA Anaheim: 20-18 (3-6 v OAK, 3-6 v SEA, 4-2 v TEX, 10-4 v HOU)
Seattle: 24-20 (5-5 v OAK, 6-3 v LAA, 5-7 v TEX, 8-5 v HOU)
Texas: 16-18 (4-5 v OAK, 2-4 v LAA, 7-5 v SEA, 3-4 v HOU)
Houston: 15-26 (2-5 v OAK, 4-10 v LAA, 5-8 v SEA, 4-3 v TEX)
One of the first things to note out of the AL standings is that the Angels have already played Houston 14 times and Seattle has played them 13 times. With 12 meetings left against the lowly Astros, the Athletics have a great chance to not only widen the gap in the AL West, but tighten their grip on home-field advantage. That’s something to keep in mind when looking at Oakland futures.
The Indians were 17-2 against the White Sox last season and are just 3-7 against them this season. That, as much as anything, is why the Indians are toiling in the middle of the pack. They have 11 games left with Detroit, whom they were 4-15 against last season. Kansas City also has 10 games left with Detroit and that could be what ultimately decides the division if the Tigers keep letting the Royals hang around.
Baltimore is atop the AL East because of what they’ve done against division competition. They were +225 last week to win the division and now hold a three-game lead. Hopefully you jumped on board before the odds changed.
Atlanta: 24-15 (7-3 v WSH, 5-4 v MIA, 6-4 v NYM, 6-4 v PHI)
Washington: 17-13 (3-7 v ATL, 5-3 v MIA, 5-1 v NYM, 4-2 v PHI)
Miami: 18-22 (4-5 v ATL, 3-5 v WSH, 5-5 v NYM, 6-7 v PHI)
New York: 16-19 (4-6 v ATL, 1-5 v WSH, 5-5 v MIA, 6-3 v PHI)
Philadelphia: 16-22 (4-6 v ATL, 2-4 v PHI, 7-6 v MIA, 3-6 v NYM)
Milwaukee: 21-17 (3-3 v STL, 10-3 v PIT, 3-7 v CIN, 5-4 v CHC)
St. Louis: 19-15 (3-3 v MIL, 5-5 v PIT, 6-3 v CIN, 5-4 v CHC)
Pittsburgh: 20-26 (3-10 v MIL, 5-5 v STL, 3-7 v CIN, 9-4 v CHC)
Cincinnati: 23-15 (7-3 v MIL, 3-6 v STL, 7-3 v PIT, 6-3 v CHC)
Chicago: 15-25 (4-5 v MIL, 4-5 v STL, 4-9 v PIT, 3-6 v CIN)
Los Angeles: 26-17 (3-7 v SF, 4-2 v SD, 10-4 v ARI, 9-4 v COL)
San Francisco: 23-20 (7-3 v LA, 6-6 v SD, 6-4 v ARI, 4-7 v COL)
San Diego: 15-20 (2-4 v LA, 6-6 v SF, 3-6 v ARI, 4-4 v COL)
Arizona: 19-23 (4-10 v LA, 4-6 v SF, 6-3 v SD, 5-4 v COL)
Colorado: 19-22 (4-9 v LA, 7-4 v SF, 4-4 v SD, 4-5 v COL)
The Dodgers are going to see a lot of the San Diego Padres the rest of the way with 13 games against them. That also means that they have played 27 of their 38 games against the lowly Diamondbacks and Rockies, so the Giants could have some hope of catching them, especially with nine more head-to-head meetings in a season series dominated by the Giants thus far. For those with San Diego over win totals, which was one of my strongest plays in the preseason (naturally derailed by injuries again), the Padres have 11 left with Colorado and 10 left with Arizona to provide some hope.
In the NL Central, the 13 remaining meetings between the Brewers and Cardinals could decide each of their fates. The Pirates only have two series left with the Brewers, which is definitely beneficial for them given how things have gone this season. The Reds could be in a position to make a run, as they’ve played well against both Milwaukee and Pittsburgh.
In the East, the Braves are four games better than the Nats in the season series and that’s why the Braves hold the slimmest of leads at 0.5 games. Washington has eight more games left against the Phillies and Mets than the Braves do and that could be a deciding factor in that division race, as the Phillies will be awful for the duration of the season and the Mets may be looking at some prospects after the break.
There are three components to winning a division: Play well within the division, win at home, and play .500 on the road. The teams that are able to do this are the teams that you’ll want to look to back with adjusted futures odds and also in the second half of the season.