The trade deadline has come and gone, and there are a number of teams that are really going to be under the gun in the last two months of the season. Join us today at Bang the Book, as we look at some of the best teams that have been protecting their home turf this season.
(Home record and amount of profit based upon a $100 bet listed in parentheses)
Pittsburgh Pirates (36-18, +$1,572) - Damned be all those championships on the other side of the field and damned be our last two decades of losing history! The Pirates are legit this year, and they have proven it by taking four straight games in a matter of just three days against the Cardinals here at PNC Park. Even if this last game is lost on Thursday, the damage has been done, and Pittsburgh will be in first place in the NL Central going into the weekend. The Bucs have been dominating at home all season long, and now, they have won their biggest home series since the early 1990s. There is a buzz right now around the Steel City, and the argument could be made that this year's Pirates are a heck of a lot like the 2008 Rays, which made it all the way to the World Series.
Cleveland Indians (36-19, +$1,540) - Manager Terry Francona won't win Manager of the Year this year, but he probably should be in consideration for it. He has taken a team that has been mediocre at best over the course of the last few seasons and made it a legitimate contender. Not only is Cleveland right on the back of the Tigers in the AL Central, but there is a legitimate chance that this could be a Wild Card team as well this year, a la the Orioles of last season. The Tribe have 36 wins at home this year, tied for the second best mark in baseball, and they have blown through these six home games this week with ease, taking three from the Rangers and the first three of a four-game set against the White Sox. The last home loss for the Indians came way back on July 10th, and since then, they have run off 10 straight 'W's at Progressive Field.
Atlanta Braves (37-15, +$1,365) - The Tomahawk Chop is back, and Braves fans at Turner Field are doing it a lot at this point. Atlanta has the best home record in baseball at 37-15, and there is a good opportunity that it is going to have that crucial home field advantage in the second season as well. At the outset of the season, the Braves were really just tearing teams apart at Turner Field, but they slowed down just a bit through May and June. To end July though, Atlanta was on fire, winning its last six games and outscoring clubs by a combined score of 40-14 in the process. It's not like these were chump teams that were coming to the Peach State either. The Cardinals were whipped 11-3 in three games, and the Rockies were destroyed by allowing 29 runs in three days.
Oakland Athletics (34-18, +$1,119) - Fortunately for the A's, they have been playing in a division that has been self-destructing. The Rangers were trying to blow themselves apart at the trade deadline, and they just haven't been able to keep it together in the second half of the year. Oakland hasn't played well either, but it has at least been maintaining its own. These last two home games against the Blue Jays have turned out disastrous losses, and that could prove to be harmful going into a home series against the Rangers, a series that could ultimately be the one that hands the AL West over to the A's once and for all if it goes well.
Boston Red Sox (36-20, +$719) - The Red Sox are back in control of the AL East after Wednesday night's results, but in the end, they are in a lot of trouble with the Rays right on their backsides. Boston knows that it is going to have to hold serve at Fenway Park, something that it wasn't able to do when the hot Rays came to town. Still, there is no denying the fact that this is a team that has scored 36 victories at home this season, and the offense has been remarkable over the course of the majority of season here as well. The trick is going be figuring out how to keep this going over the course of the rest of the season if the Sox are going to ultimately figure out how to win the AL East and perhaps get the No. 1 overall seed in the American League and the home field advantage throughout the playoffs.