MLB Betting and Handicapping: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 8/5/2013
The winners in the fallout of the Biogenesis suspensions appear to clearly be the Cleveland Indians and Oakland A's. To a lesser extent, you can probably put the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles in there.
I believe Oakland is a huge winner because the A's lead Texas by 2.5 games in the AL West, and the Rangers just lost slugging outfielder Nelson Cruz for the rest of the regular season. He accepted his 50-game ban -- so theoretically he could return for the playoffs -- rather than appeal like Alex Rodriguez is doing; A-Rod, who was suspended through next season, is appealing and will play during the appeal. Cruz led the Rangers with 27 homers and 76 RBI. He just committed another incredibly selfish act because Cruz could have also appealed, and it likely wouldn't have been decided until after the season. Instead, Cruz didn't want to go into free agency next year with a 50-game ban hanging over his head to start next year. I'm sure he will get a big deal even though he's an admitted cheat.
I think the Rangers absolutely have to make a trade now, perhaps revisiting talks for the White Sox's Alex Rios, presuming he clears waivers or at least makes it to Texas' chance to claim him. The price on Rios probably just went up for Texas considering the White Sox now hold all the leverage.
Oakland got a double victory because ace Bartolo Colon wasn't suspended. He was on that list but got a pass because he essentially served his punishment last season. Colon (14-3, 2.50) has been nothing short of brilliant and next starts Wednesday at Cincinnati. The books have taken down the AL West odds because of the Cruz suspension; obviously the A's will be bigger favorites now. It might be good value to jump on Texas, however, if you think Rangers GM Jon Daniels will make a move. I think he will. Apparently calling up Manny Ramirez isn't in the plans.
Here is what Atlantis Reno oddsmaker Steve Mikkelson told Covers.com: "I think that without question, the Rangers are impacted the most. That's a big bat in the middle of that Ranger lineup that is worth about three or four cents to the moneyline. You'll also see totals come down a little bit as well."
The Tribe get a boost in their attempt to catch Detroit in the AL Central because Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta took his 50-game suspension. He is one of the best-hitting shortstops in the majors this year, batting.305 with 11 home runs and 54 RBI. Yes, the Tigers acquired shortstop Jose Iglesias in that three-way Jake Peavy trade. Iglesias is a way better defensive player but nowhere close to Peralta at the plate. That .323 average is a mirage; Iglesias is batting just .152 since the break. The Red Sox smartly sold him high. Maybe the Tigers have enough offense to withstand Peralta's loss, but the Indians have to be thrilled privately. Those two started a four-game set on Monday night in Cleveland with Detroit a -140 series favorite (first three games only). Detroit is -600 to win the Central with the Indians at +300.
Cleveland enters this week holding down the second wild-card spot by a half-game over the Rangers. I mentioned the Red Sox, Rays and Orioles because should Texas fall back that only helps those three land a wild-card spot of whichever one doesn't win the AL East.
The Rays are even-money favorites with Boston at -120 and Baltimore at -1000. I like Boston there now that it has Jake Peavy, and the Rays' Matt Moore has a sore elbow. Boston, entering Monday, is just one win from matching last season's total. That's amazing. I'm not including the Yankees because I frankly don't think A-Rod helps much at all and now Derek Jeter his hurt again and could be headed back to the DL.
Keep An Eye On Ramirez
Yasiel Puig is getting all the attention with the Dodgers, and he's been terrific. Perhaps overlooked is how good shortstop Hanley Ramirez has been. Ramirez is batting .361 -- which would lead the majors if he had enough at-bats -- with 11 homers in 54 games.
Thus, keep an eye on the results of an MRI that Ramirez is to undergo Monday. He left Sunday's game against the Cubs, the Dodgers' 14th straight road win, with a shoulder injury. He chased down a popup by the Cubs' David DeJesus near the Cubs' bullpen mound in foul territory, with Ramirez hitting the low brick retaining wall and flipping into the stands. Ramirez already has had two trips to the DL this year. Yes, the Dodgers have been fine without Matt Kemp much of this year, but that's because they have a ton of outfield depth. That's definitely not the case at short. Nick Punto would likely start in Ramirez's spot, and he's batting just .244.
The scorching-hot Dodgers have taken command of the NL West and are now the NL pennant favorites at +180 on Sportsbook.ag.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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