1. The Juggernaut Is Struggling & Seattle Is Surging
The biggest and most important series over the weekend you may not have watched took place between Seattle and Houston, and Seattle past the test with flying colors. Seattle rallied for four straight wins (all as underdogs) as Edwin Diaz saved four straight games to continue his record-setting save pace. Seattle also moved from eight games back all the way up to four. What this also did is help Oakland out, vaulting Oakland to just 2.5 games back from Houston, who at one time this season was lined as far as -1600 to win the AL West.
Houston has been bitten by the injury bug worse than any other team this season and even with Carlos Correa coming back, it wasn’t enough. As I touched on in the previous edition of First To Third, I think this can be a good and even great thing for bettors if you are able to shelf your recency bias. Houston odds have plummeted to win their division, however, bookmakers are not going to leave themselves open to a Houston run yet by still holding their odds at +250 for The American League pennant and only +500 for the World Series. I think 5/1 is worthy of an investment due to the fact that they will be healthy for the playoff run with Altuve, Springer, Correa, and co coming back.
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) August 13, 2018
2. Sale Day Is Alive And Well
After being shelved on the 10-day disabled list seemingly out of nowhere, Chris Sale returned this weekend to take on the lowly Orioles, and some may not have known quite what to expect from Boston’s ace, but he showed no ill signs and frankly looked better than ever. Sale struck out 12 Orioles in five innings in a 4-1 win. Sale became the first Red Sox player to post an ERA under .2 in seven consecutive starts since 1913 when ERA became an official stat. Chris Sale and Luis Severino are making the Cy-Young debate just a two horse race.
3. The National League Is Wide Open
…The American League is not. With Boston and Cleveland running away with two out of three divisions and Houston looking to hold on in the West, The American League picture is somewhat clear. In the National League, however, the case could not be more opposite. In the East, Atlanta and Philadelphia are tied for the division lead which not many people saw coming as far as this year is concerned and look destined to fight until the very last weekend of the season. In the central, Chicago has a three-game lead over Milwaukee, and even at 5.5 games back St. Louis is possibly the hottest team in baseball having won eight out of their last ten games.
In the NL West, Arizona has retaken the NL West crown from The Dodgers with Colorado hot on their tail as well at only just 1.5 games back. Arizona was lined at +300 just a week ago, and LA has fluctuated from -400, to +400, and most recently settled around -160. Colorado can still be had for a very nice price, it just depends on your takeaways. If you’ve been reading the first to third series all season, I’ve advocated a day trading approach, taking one of the two teams every time they flip to an underdog, and that same philosophy can be applied here, although at the end of the day I do think LA gets healthy enough to get the job done, with Arizona the winner of the wild card.