Two NL clubs climbing up the standings will be tested in the coming days. Can the Cardinals and Dodgers maintain their recent runs and produce more winners on MLB betting boards?
It's difficult to find a closer race than the NL Central. Hanging on to a very tenuous lead is St. Louis, the Cardinals a half-game in front of Cincinnati with Milwaukee and Chicago within 2½ games entering the weekend. Pittsburgh, in last place only six games behind, is still in the mix.
Helping tighten things up is the current slump the Cubs find themselves in. The Cardinals picked a great time to heat up, pulling off a perfect 6-0 road trip through Atlanta and Miami, where the bats were a big story as St. Louis, a +450 choice on MLB futures odds to take the division title from the Cubs (-600), plated 43 runs vs. the Braves and Marlins after beginning the trek averaging just a hair over 4.0 PRG.
Mike Matheny's men are no doubt glad to be home, but their rise to the top of the division ranks will be tested on a homestand against three teams that have combined to win five of the last seven World Series. It all begins Friday against the rival Cubs and continues next week when the Red Sox and Giants arrive.
Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter have been the catalysts behind the recent offensive surge, but the top 4 in the rotation -- Mike Leake, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez -- have been pulling their weight all season with 19 quality efforts in 26 assignments. Trevor Rosenthal, an early candidate for NL Comeback Player of the Year, has been all but unhittable (21K, 12.1 IP) with Seung-Hwan Oh handling the bulk of closing chores.
Can Dodgers Stay Hot & Tighten NL West?
Another team on the rise in the National League has been the Los Angeles Dodgers, heavy favorites to take another NL West flag. Instead, the Dodgers have been chasing Colorado and, until recently, Arizona. The Rockies hold a 2½-game lead on LA after winning Game 1 of their long 4-game set on Thursday.
Pitching has been the club's strength so far, the Dodgers leading the majors with a 3.20 ERA. The rotation, anchored by Clayton Kershaw, has been picked up by Julio Urias and Alex Wood after injuries to Rish Hill and Brandon McCarthy. And it's tough to mount a comeback on this bullpen where Kenley Jansen has Josh Fields, Pedro Baez and Luis Avilan bridging the games to the ninth. Wood is slated for Saturday, part of our free baseball pick schedule, and he has been lit up in the past at Coors Field.
Recent WS Rematch Highlights Week 7 Schedule
As luck would have it, both the Cardinals and Dodgers have some key series coming up after their crucial matchups this weekend, and topping next week's marquee is a rematch of the 2013 World Series as Boston travels to St. Louis for a quick 2-game set starting Tuesday. The series begins with Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, who was solid Thursday at the Brewers, taking on Cardinals veteran Lance Lynn. Totals trends clash in that one with Boston 0-5-1 O/U/P in Rodriguez's starts while the Cards run 5-2 O/U in Lynn's assignments.
Monday finds the Dodgers moving from Colorado to San Francisco to face the rival Giants for a third time this season. If current rotations hold, we could see Kershaw and Johnny Cueto collide in the series finale. A 4-game series at AT&T Park earlier this season resulted in three 'under' winners.