I'll admit that when the Texas Rangers acquired Cole Hamels from the Phillies at last Friday's trade deadline that I expected the Rangers were doing so for 2016 and beyond. But GM Jon Daniels told anyone who would listen that he thought his team was still capable of winning the AL West or taking a wild-card spot. And Daniels might be right as the Rangers are playing good baseball and still very much alive in both races (+1600 to win the AL West -- I don't see that happening, however). What Texas needs to start doing is beating the bad teams. The Rangers are a crazy 36-22 against teams above .500 but way below .500 against lousy clubs.
Rangers at Mariners (-170, 7)
Don't like Texas' chances in Sunday's series finale at Safeco Field as it's Felix Hernandez (13-6, 3.13) for the home side. Although King Felix hasn't looked like himself the past two starts in allowing 11 runs and 23 hits over 13.1 innings. Ah, it's the dog days of summer, and that happens to even the best of them (look at Chicago's Chris Sale of late). Hernandez has had no trouble with Texas this year, going 2-0 with a 1,98 ERA in two starts. Elvis Andrus is a career .300 hitter off him in 80 at-bats. Josh Hamilton can't hit Hernandez much, going 11-for-65 with 21 strikeouts. The Rangers counter with Colby Lewis (12-4, 4.68), who as you can see by his ERA and wins gets plenty of run support. That showed last time out as Lewis gave up seven runs and 10 hits over six innings but still got the win against Houston. He pitched in Seattle on April 18 and allowed three runs over 5.2 innings in a loss. Red-hot Robinson Cano is 7-for-15 with two RBIs off him. Austin Jackson hits .419 in 31 at-bats off Lewis.
Key trends: The Rangers are 4-0 in Lewis' past four on the road. The Mariners are 1-5 in Hernandez's past six against Texas at home. The "over/under" is 7-3 in Lewis past 10 in Seattle. The Mariners are 1-5 in Hernandez's past six at home vs. Texas.
Early lean: Sometimes trends don't matter. Mariners and under.
Mets at Rays (-160, 6.5)
If I'm living in the Tampa Bay area and planning on attending this game, it's a bummer that the Mets have the DH because that means no at-bat for Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon, and there are few more entertaining things than watching that chubby guy hit or run. The Mets had lost seven straight starts by Colon (10-10, 4.72) until last time out when he was great in Miami, allowing a run over eight innings. He hasn't faced Tampa in three years. Evan Longoria is 4-for-11 with two doubles off him. Asdrubal Cabrera is 1-for-14 with five strikeouts. Rays All-Star Chris Archer (10-8, 2.54) beat the White Sox (and Sale) last time out, allowing two runs over seven innings. He is 3-6 with a 2.74 ERA in 13 home starts. Only a few Mets have ever seen him. Yoenis Cespedes is 2-for-6 with two RBIs.
Key trends: The Mets are 0-7 in Colon's past seven as a dog. The Rays are 1-4 in Archer's past seven as home favorite. The over is 8-2 in Colon's past 10 on the road against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Rays and under.
Giants at Cubs (-165, TBA)
This game is nationally televised on TBS and will have live betting at sportsbooks. Also features a pair of Jakes on the mound. For the Giants, it's Jake Peavy (2-4, 3.77). San Francisco has won his past four starts, and last time out he held the Braves to a run over six innings. Peavy's eight strikeouts were a season high. Chicago's Chris Coghlan is 4-for-10 off him. Miguel Montero, who just came off the disabled list, is 6-for-23 with a homer. With Montero back and mostly behind the plate, that means rookie masher Kyle Schwarber will play more in left field now. For the Cubs, it's Jake Arrieta (12-6, 2.50), who deserves some Cy Young votes. He shut out the Pirates on two hits over seven innings on Tuesday. He is 6-1 with a 1.37 ERA over his last nine outings. Hunter Pence is 2-for-4 off him. Buster Posey is 0-for-4.
Key trends: The Giants are 0-5 in Peavy's past five against teams with a winning record. The Cubs are 6-1 in Arrieta's past seven vs. team with a winning record. The under has hit in eight of Arrieta's past 11 at home.
Early lean: Cubs.
Astros at A's (-101, 7.5)
When Houston acquired Carlos Gomez from Milwaukee at the trade deadline, Mike Fiers (5-9, 4.17) was more than a throw in. He was expected to stabilize the back end of the Houston rotation. However, Fiers' Houston debut wasn't a good one as he allowed six runs over five innings in a loss at Texas. That was in relief. So this will be his Astros starting debut and his first career look at Oakland. For the A's, it's Chris Bassitt (1-4, 2.64). He comes off easily his best outing of the season, shutting out the Orioles over seven innings on Tuesday. He has allowed three runs in 4.1 innings this season vs. Houston.
Key trends: The Astros are 2-10 in their past 12 against right-handers. The under is 6-2-1 in Houston' past nine as a road favorite. The under is 4-0 in Bassitt's past four at home.
Early lean: Oakland and under.
Dodgers at Pirates (+107, 8)
This is the Sunday night ESPN game and thus will have live betting at sportsbooks -- although it's opposite the NFL Hall of Fame Game exhibition opener in Canton between the Steelers and Vikings. Sadly, even a meaningless NFL game will dwarf the MLB game in ratings and betting take at books. But that's America. It's lefty Alex Wood (7-7, 3.65) for the Dodgers. In his L.A. debut on Tuesday in Philadelphia, Wood allowed four runs and eight hits over 6.1 innings in a loss. Wood pitched in Pittsburgh on June 28 while with Atlanta and blanked the Pirates on five hits over 7.1 innings. Starling Marte is 4-for-12 with three RBIs off Wood. Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton (7-4, 4.19) shut out the Reds over seven innings in his last start. This will be his first start against the Dodgers since 2010. Jimmy Rollins is 7-for-11 with two doubles off Morton in his career, but that all came with the Phillies.
Key trends: The Pirates are 8-2 in their past 10 at home vs. a lefty. They are 1-4 in Morton's last five against teams with a winning record. The over is 5-1 in Morton's past six against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Pirates and under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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