Everybody in Major League Baseball will reach the 40-game mark this week. Not only does that mean that a quarter of the MLB season is over already, but it’s the widely-accepted time to determine whether a team is “for real” or not. There are always exceptions to this, like the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers, who were 17-23 after 40 games last season and they won 92 games.

Last week, some teams that got off to a decent start really fell off the pace. The New York Mets are 2-8 in their last 10 games after starting 15-11. The Cubs and Astros are as bad or worse than people thought they would be. The Cubs have lost seven of their last 10 and are now 12 games under .500. The Astros started the year 4-6 after 10 games. They are now 12-26 after an 8-20 stretch.

On the flip side, the Indians entered last weekend’s series against Chicago at 11-17 after an 0-6 California road trip. They open up a series with Toronto on Tuesday night at 18-20 and are a John Axford blown save away from .500. Axford lost his closer’s role this past week. The San Francisco Giants are for real with a 24-14 record following a 7-3 road trip to Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Dodger Stadium.

As always, there are some pitchers worth watching right now. AJ Burnett tops the list. Burnett revealed on April 14 that he would pitch through a hernia through the season. His velocity has decreased along with his control. For several starts, it was not a major issue. But, Burnett was blasted by the Blue Jays in his last start and the longer he goes without getting it fixed, the more likely it is to affect his performance. It’s hard to make money going against the Phillies and their terrible bullpen, but going against Burnett could be a way to do so.

Wandy Rodriguez, who has been discussed several times in MLB articles here at BangTheBook so far this season, is scheduled to return from a disabled list stint on Thursday. Rodriguez made two Double-A rehab starts and walked six in 8.2 innings of work. He was placed on the disabled list with a knee injury, but there are much bigger concerns at play. His velocity remains down after choosing not to have major elbow surgery last season and his control is also declining. There may not be many more chances to go against Rodriguez because the Pirates are already 7.5 games back and will start looking at internal options for the future, but keep fading while the iron is hot.

Alfredo Simon was blasted in his last start against the Rockies, but the regression still isn’t done. Simon has a 2.89 ERA, but a 5.13 FIP. In the same boat is Shelby Miller, who has the league’s largest discrepancy between ERA and FIP at 2.66. His strikeout total is way down and the walks are way up. It will catch up with him soon.

Here are some things to keep in mind from last week:

What We Learned

1. Fade the Orioles soon

The Orioles rattled off a 5-1 week with a sweep over Tampa Bay and a series win over Houston. The Orioles are 8-3 in May, but are only +4 in run differential. By Pythagorean Win-Loss record, the Orioles are three games better than they should be. With much stiffer competition in Detroit, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Milwaukee on the horizon, they are going to regress back towards the middle or lower in the division.

What To Look For

Look for the Orioles to be overpriced for the next week or so. Ubaldo Jimenez gained favor with oddsmakers late last season and has put together two consecutive strong outings. Leopards don’t change their spots. Jimenez isn’t magically fixed. The Orioles rotation has the fifth-highest FIP and fifth-highest SIERA. Not only will they get worse as it warms up in Baltimore and the ball starts carrying more, but they will get worse as they face better lineups.

 

What We Learned

2. The Colorado Rockies may not be for real

One of my biggest missteps to date with my Season Win Total series has been the Colorado Rockies. Their offense is putting up video game numbers and their elite defense has helped what should be a below average pitching staff. The Rockies rotation has the second-highest FIP but ranks 19th in ERA. The defense isn’t going to magically get worse, so that’s a concern, but the offense is posting a .302/.350/.505 slash line and a .370 wOBA. That seems unsustainable, as one team in the last five years has put up a season-long wOBA above .360.

Of course, the Rockies could be 100 percent for real. The pitching could improve, especially with Jhoulys Chacin back in the rotation.

What To Look For

This is going to be an overpriced team for the foreseeable future. As hard as it may be to step in front of them, there will be some value on the opposition. Their next 11 games are against Kansas City, San Diego, San Francisco, and Atlanta. Those are some teams with very good pitching. It’s hard to stand in front of an oncoming train, but being a long-term winner in sports betting requires doing that from time to time.

 

What We Learned

3. The Indians are on the verge of getting hot

BABIP can tell you a lot of things. What it tells you about the Indians is that they’ve gotten extremely unlucky so far this season. And it works both ways, although their defense is terrible. The Indians are 29th in offensive BABIP at .274. Keep in mind that home runs are not counted, but the Indians are in the middle of the pack in that category.

The pitching staff’s BABIP against is the second-highest at .315. The Indians rank second in FIP, trailing only the Braves. They also lead the American League in strikeouts by 20. Both the offensive and defensive BABIPs should even out throughout the course of the season. The Indians have quietly won seven of 10 and have gotten outstanding starting pitching in that span.

What To Look For

The Indians should start playing to their potential as a team very shortly. They take on Toronto, Oakland, and Detroit in their next three series, which will provide a big litmus test. The schedule doesn’t open up for them for a while, so you should get good prices on a team that is trending upwards.