While the American League Central should belong to Detroit, the rest of the division is not deplorable, as Chicago and Minnesota have better records than the other fourth and fifth place teams.
For those checking out the betting odds at sportsbooks and making MLB picks, the teams in this division have not made a lot of money, but they have not hurt anyone badly either.
The Tigers have roared to a commanding position in the AL Central, thanks to a 17-6 spurt (+10.45 units) and will seek to widen the gap. The Detroit offense is back to its usual standard in averaging 4.8 runs per game and the starting pitching except for Justin Verlander and Drew Smyly has been very reliable.
If Verlander in particular can find a groove and bullpen help is added, this will be a rugged club to keep out of the World Series and you can bet it will be reflected in the MLB odds.
Because of rainouts, Detroit has played the fewest times in the majors at 91. This leads to them playing most often after the break and smart baseball handicappers realize they will be 54 games over the next 55 days, a mentally and physically draining period. This will test the Tigers mettle.
Kansas City Royals
Kansas City lost important series to Detroit and Minnesota before taking a few days off, which had to leave a bad taste in their mouths. In studying the stats, the Royals have enough pitching to move up in wild card standings, but really need another hitter via trade to juice the batting order.
K.C. is plating a hair over four times a game, which in the American League keeps you around .500, where they reside at 48-46 (-5.1). More scoring would seemingly help the Royals in one-run games where they are 10-18 and presumably help them in the division where they are 18-22 (-7.3).
The Royals hold the future in their own hands, with the second half opening against four opponents who are .500 or less as of today and they only face 20 foes who have a .500 or better record the rest of the way.
Are the Indians about to become a team to follow for sports picks? Quite possibly with an 8-4 start to July and a 3-0-1 mark in series outcomes.
How Cleveland has been able to improve and beat the MLB odds is run prevention. Terry Francona’s squad has only permitted four teams to tally five or more runs in 17 recent tries, leading to the turnaround.
The Indians are the third-worst bet on the road at -9.1, thanks to an 18-28 record. They begin the rest of the season facing division foes Detroit, Minnesota and Kansas City in away outings, which will likely tell their story the rest of the way. Cleveland controls its fate with 20 games versus the Tigers and Royals.
Chicago White Sox
It’s a given Chicago will not lose 99 games again like 2013. Yet despite not having Chris Sale in the first part of the season and many other starting hurlers scuffling, you have to wonder how much better the White Sox would be with a reliable bullpen.
The Pale Hose pensters are tied with the most bullpen losses in the AL (17) and their save percentage of 59% is only above Houston in the junior circuit.
The South Siders have a chance to move up in the standings playing Houston at home, followed by 13 AL Central affairs. If they hit and hold leads, Chicago could move up.
Have to admit, I have been waiting for Minnesota to crumble for a month and they just wrapped up an impressive 5-2 road excursion, being an underdog in each contest. In the AL, only Houston has been favored less often than the Twins (15 games out of 94) and statistically, other than having a solid bullpen, there is no rationale to support them being +5.7 units.
Kudos to skipper Ron Gardenhire for keeping Minnesota competitive and let’s see if they inch closer to .500 facing the Rays, Indians and White Sox beginning Friday at home.