The second half of the MLB season is well underway and there are several developing stories that are creating fan excitement for many teams.
My MLB picks went 4-5 losing 0.59 units per
one unit wagered. For the entire length of this column spanning eight weeks the
overall record now stands at 23-21 and has lost just 0.04 units per one unit
wagered. Break-even is not acceptable and I will always look to do better with
each passing week.
The National League currently has
three closely contest division races under way. In the East, the Nationals
continue to lead, but the surging Braves have now cut their lead in the
division to just 4 ½ games. The Braves are tied with the Nationals for most
road wins with 28 and I believe that Atlanta is going to make a run and win the
The Braves looked to have been
the leaders for the services of the Chicago Cubs Ryan Dempster, who leads in
the NL in ERA. However, breaking news has suggested that he will decline the
trade to the Braves. I have to admit, I am very puzzled why Dempster would not
want to go to the pitcher friendly confines at Fulton County Stadium and be
part of a contender. I know we will learn more about this situation as the July
31 trading deadline approaches.
In the National League Central,
the Cincinnati Reds have taken control of the division and have passed the
Pittsburgh Pirates. The Reds lead the Pirates by 1 ½ games and the Cardinals by
six games. The other three teams in the division, Milwaukee, Chicago, and
Houston are out of the playoff race. It will be very interesting to see if the
Brewers work a deal to trade Zack Greinke over the next eight days.
Greinke is not the type of
starter who will be able to handle the big media market pressure, but he may be
a great fit in Atlanta or St. Louis. However, would Milwaukee move him to a
division rival remains to be seen. Milwaukee can command a lot in return for
any trade for Greinke, especially if talks in Philadelphia to sign Cole Hamels
break down. Having both Greinke and Hamels in the open market between now and
the deadline would force teams to pay up immediately for either starter.
In the National League West,
there is essentially a two-team race with the San Francisco Giants clinging to
a 1 ½ game lead over the Giants. The Dodgers have won five straight and Matt
Kemp is beginning to find his ‘MVP’ stroke and the Dodgers are a very strong
team given their strong starting rotation. The same can be said for the Giants
and these two ‘identical twins’ will battle to the final week of the season for
the division crown.
The National League Wild Cards
For the first time in MLB
history, there will be two wild card berths, which is serving to keep even more
teams in contention longer into the season. Entering action Tuesday, July 24,
the Pirates lead the standings by ½ game over the Dodgers and 2 ½ games over
the Braves. Arizona is 4 ½ games out and the fledgling Mets are 5 ½ games. So,
logically, this race looks to be a three-team affair for the two playoff spots.
The Cardinals have the best scoring offense in the NL and have the potential to
make a run for the one of the National League playoff spots. Arizona and the Mets just don’t have the depth to
compete down the stretch even if they do make trading deadline moves.
Net Money Won Leaders
I have used net money won as one
of dozens of technical readings to evaluate a team’s relative performance to
their norm. When a team gets hot and, for example, rips off seven runs, they
become ‘overbought’ and the public will start backing them always at the tail
end of winning streaks. These overbought conditions create play against
opportunities, which has been the focus of this weekly column.
Pittsburgh remains on top having
made 20.96 units per one unit wagered in all games, 16.55 units per one unit
wagered in home games, and 4.41 units per one unit wagered in road games.
Pittsburgh is 32-15 in home games this season. They are currently playing the
Cubs in a three-game home series. The Pirates lost the first game 2-0 Monday and
I do not see the Pirates as fades given the weakness of the Cubs.
The Pirates then hit the road for
four games at Houston, then three games at Chicago, and then three games at the
division leading Reds. This is an easy stretch for them and will certainly keep
them in contention. They will return home for an 11-game home stand with four
games against Arizona, three against San Diego, and then the real test against
the Dodgers. It is just too far into the future to make a call for any play
right now, but as that home stand approaches, i do believe there will be some
excellent money making opportunities to be had.
The plays that I really like this week will be to take the Dodgers when
they visit the Giants in a huge three-game weekend series beginning this
Friday. In the first game the Giants will be significant favorites with Matt
Cain on the hill. Cain is not pitching nearly as well as his flash stats
indicate and there is tremendous value in taking the Dodgers in this game. In
games two and three, the Dodgers will have advantages with Billingsley and Kershaw
on the bump and I fully expect the Dodgers to win both of these games.