by Josh Nagel - 06/18/2008
If you enjoy baseball, and betting on it is part of your gambling repertoire, then you had to love the interleague play over the weekend. Whether it was shoddy line making, coincidence, or a little of both, the money started to fly when teams from the separate leagues collided.
Saturday was the day of the dog so far this season in Major League Baseball, as those glorious plus-money outfits started hitting like a rigged slot machine. The problem was, it was hard to find a matchup that looked like good value on paper. But, boy did they come in for their backers.
Just a few examples: Boston was +140 against the Reds (Tim Wakefield against Edison Volquez), the Chicago Cubs were +170 against Toronto (Jason Marquis vs. Roy Halladay), San Diego got +175 against Cleveland (Cha Seung Baek vs. Cliff Lee), the Rockies garnered +170 against the White Sox (Jorge De La Rosa vs. John Danks) … and so on.
There were more where those came from as well. So with a tip of the cap to the erstwhile interleague underdogs, and hopefully a nod to a bloated wallet, here is a look at some MLB trends through June 17:
American League East
New York Yankees - The Yankees have picked up a bit of steam; they were dominant in sweeping the Astros over the weekend, a series book-ended by wins over the A's and Padres. They have won eight of their last 10 and climbed into contention at five games over .500, but the series against Houston came with a serious price. Chien Ming-Wang, their most reliable starter over the past two seasons who is off to a terrific 8-2 start, was injured running the bases in Houston and is out indefinitely. With Mike Mussina the only other starter who has provided any consistency, the loss of Wang is sure to slow New York's momentum in its pursuit of contention in the AL East.
Toronto Blue Jays - The Blue Jays have scored four runs or fewer in their past seven games, and have not notched more than five in their past 10. These numbers underscore Toronto's dilemma of having one of the stingiest pitching staffs in the majors with a third-best team ERA of 3.53, but it hasn't been enough to overcome its 26th-ranked offense at 3.97 runs per game. Accordingly, the Blue Jays are 43-25-4 against the under for the season.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox - Chicago's post Ozzie Guillen-tirade winning streak came to a halt when the White Sox were swept by the Tigers last week, then dropped two of three at home to the Rockies over the weekend. While they are still comfortably ahead in this division - and currently the only team above .500 - it seems their play is as erratic as their manager's mood, which is a good reason to stay away.
Detroit Tigers - It's probably a little too early for Tigers fans to get excited, but their backers had to pleased that Detroit finally has crawled out of its season-long abyss and is at least making a push toward respectability. One of the worst pitching staffs in the majors yielded just 17 total runs in six games as they swept the White Sox and Dodgers. They have won eight of 10 overall, and red-hot Marcus Thames has ignited the lineup to complement the improved pitching.
American League West
Oakland A's - The A's have the best team ERA in MLB at 3.31, which explains how they have been able to stay competitive at 39-31 despite offering a milquetoast and rather inconsistent lineup. Turns out a couple of runs were all they needed against a light-hitting Giants squad, sweeping the three-game series by a combined score of 14-4. Despite facing low totals almost every game, the A's are 27-37-6 against the under for the season.
Seattle Mariners - They fired their general manager and others can't be far behind, including manager John McLaren. This team is down a woeful 2,394 units on the season and its recent "efforts" have included getting swept at home by the Nationals, who gave fine value to their backers at +120 or better every game. Ouch.
National League East
Florida Marlins - Florida took a bit of a slide last week, with a three-game skid during which they were outscored 14-4 by the Rays and the Phillies. The Marlins have slipped to 20th in team ERA (4.44) and 29th in quality starts (26), which isn't likely to be good enough to overtake the hot-hitting Phillies, whom they will battle for the division title.
Atlanta Braves - Injuries to Tom Glavine, John Smotlz and the never-ending ailments for Mike Hampton are a huge blow to this team, which has heavily relied on its starting rotation, along with the bat of Chipper Jones, to stay competitive. But the Braves got quality starts out of Jo-Jo Reyes and Charlie Morton in taking two of three from the Angels, so they might be worth keeping an eye on.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs - The loss of Alfonso Soriano to injury is a concern, but the Cubs should have more than enough firepower to compensate in his absence. Don't let Soriano's absence scare you off; the Cubs have an MLB-best profit of 1,412 units for their bettors, and a plus-1,408 unit uptick against the run line.
Houston Astros - Just when it seemed the Astros might be coming around, they get thumped in five-straight at home to the Brewers and Yankees, outscored 42-17 in that span. They have lost six in a row and eight of 10, and the over has taken the money in eight of those due to Houston's inability to a find a starter who can give a quality outing.
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks - The Diamondbacks lead the National League Worst by default, and it's a sign of just how weak the division really is that the 32-38 mark of the Dodgers is "good" enough for second place. Losses in six of their last 10, including two at home to Kansas City and two at Pittsburgh, has dropped Arizona's cash flow to -512 for its backers.
San Diego Padres - As bad as the Padres have been, they wake up just six games out of first place in this division. Although they haven't been kind to their supporters - a -1,178 unit mark speaks to this - they have turned it around of late with the return of Jake Peavy to the rotation and a little surge from their anemic lineup. San Diego has won six of 10, and cashed as a considerable dog in four of those.