A pair of clubs with Wild Card aspirations lost critical ground in the MLB playoff chase last week while costing bettors a bundle. The Cardinals and Astros combined for 8.1 units worth of losses while going a combined 4-9 since Aug. 1. On the flip side, Minnesota emerged as one of the hottest bets in MLB for the first time this season. The young Twins have been much-improved in all areas and could be a live underdog moving forward.
Hottest Bets in MLB (8/1 thru 8/7)
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Chicago Cubs (6-0, +6.1 Units)
After a bit of a rough patch in mid-summer, manager Joe Maddon and the Cubs have righted the ship in a big way. The North Siders are 16-5 since the All-Star break and riding a seven-game winning streak entering Monday's action.
Last week, the Cubs swept the Marlins three games at home and took three more in Oakland. The return of Dexter Fowler from the DL in late July has Chicago back at virtually full strength and firing on all cylinders. And it would also be remiss not to mention the overlooked domination of SP Kyle Hendricks, who in two starts last week gave up 1 ER in 16 1/3 IP to lower his ERA to 2.17. That trails only Clayton Kershaw in the NL.
Next up for the Cubs is two games at home versus the Angels followed by a four-game set against the struggling Cardinals at Wrigley.
Minnesota Twins (5-2, +5.8 Units)
The Twins took three of four from the Indians and two of three from the Rays last week, all as an underdog and all on the road. After being absolutely dreadful the first three months of the season, the Twins have gone 20-13 since July 1. Sparking the surge has been a vastly-improved offense. Minnesota leads the AL in scoring since the All-Star break and trails only the Rockies in all of baseball. Right fielder Miguel Sano, who was close to being demoted a couple weeks ago, has been the catalyst. The 23-year-old has responded by hitting .348 (8-for-23) with three HRs and seven RBIs in August.
The Twins are the kind of club that can give playoff contenders fits down the stretch. Young talent, of which Minnesota has its share, often thrives once the pressure of contending is off.
The Twins are home all this week with four against the Astros followed by three against the Royals.
Washington Nationals (5-1, +3.2 Units)
The Nationals (66-45) have finally gained some separation atop the NL East with this nice stretch as they are now seven games ahead of the Marlins and nine games in front of the Mets. Last week, Washington swept three games in Arizona then took two of three at home against the first-place Giants.
The big news for the Nats has been the emergence of Tanner Roark in the starting rotation. On Sunday, Roark threw seven shutout innings as a +125 underdog in a Washington win. He now leads the majors in starts of seven or more scoreless innings with seven.
This week the Nats host the Indians for two games and the Braves for a three-game weekend set.
Other hot MLB bets: Detroit Tigers (4-2, +1.8 Units)
Coldest Bets in MLB (8/1 thru 8/7)
St. Louis Cardinals (2-4, -4.1 Units)
The Cardinals (58-53) are now trailing in the Wild Card chase after an ugly week that saw them drop two of three games to both the Reds and Braves. It's simply unacceptable for a club with playoff hopes to drop consecutive series to last-place clubs.
St. Louis has gone just 12-11 since the All-Star break while posting an ERA of 4.52, which is the fifth-worst in MLB during that span.
Next up for the Cardinals is three games at home against the Reds followed by a critical four-game set against the Cubs at Wrigley.
Houston Astros (2-5, -4.0 Units)
The Astros (57-54) have fallen to 7.5 games back of the Rangers in AL West and are four games off the pace in the Wild-Card race. It was just two weeks ago that Houston looked poised to overtake the Texas for the division lead, but since then the Astros are 2-10. Last week, Houston lost three of four to Toronto then dropped two of three to the Rangers all at Minute Maid Park
The Astros were bound to cool off at some point after what had been about two months of big-time success. This week Houston travels to play the surging Twins for a four-game set followed by a trip to Toronto for three games.
San Francisco Giants (2-4, -3.8 Units)
The Giants run of futility since the All-Star break continued last week by dropping two of three games in both Philadelphia and Washington. San Francisco is just 6-15 since the Midsummer Classic, which has left them with a precarious one-game lead on the Dodgers in the NL West.
The Giants have scored the second-fewest runs in the NL in the second-half and rank ninth in team ERA (4.19). Those certainly aren't the numbers of a division champion. One keeps waiting for this club to get it going, but it could prove difficult this week. The Giants play three games in Miami followed by a three-game series at home against the AL East-leading Orioles.
Other cold MLB bets: Oakland A's (1-5, -3.9 Units), Arizona Diamondbacks (2-4, -2.4 Units), Los Angeles Angels (2-4, -2.4 Units), Miami Marlins (2-4, -1.9 Units), Chicago White Sox (2-4, -1.6 Units)
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