As of this writing, the National League East is the only division which does not have a team with a losing record, and while each has particular quirks, this is just fine with MLB baseball handicappers, and those working the betting odds, knowing what to look for.
After getting off to a blazing 17-7 start, Atlanta tomahawk-chopped themselves losing seven straight games. How could this happen as Braves overcame the loss of a various pitchers to injury and still started fast?
The Braves are 29th in baseball in runs scored at 3.3 per contest. They have a lineup built to sink or swim, and you don’t have to be oddsmakers for sportsbooks to figure which one Atlanta is going through now.
Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton and even Evan Gattis can carry the Braves with hot streaks, but what happens when they cool? Now you are left with players like Dan Uggla, B.J. Upton, Chris Johnson and even Jason Heyward who are too prone to hot and cold streaks. Atlanta is not as bad as they have recently played, but should be wagering material only when they are playing well.
For a second consecutive year, Washington has been hit with a rash of injuries. One difference this season (at least thus far) is that the Nationals have shown more spunk, and are playing with more day-to-day energy than a year ago. First-year manager Matt Williams has certainly shown his lack of experience at times, but he’s not about to coddle this team. Whether you agree or disagree with how he handled Bryce Harper is subjective, but Williams sent a message dictating expectations.
For those making sports picks, the Nationals have four quality starting pitchers who generate a high percentage of strikeouts (2nd in NL), and have almost a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The bullpen is deep and talent-laded, thus, if the offense finds a groove, this is still a team who can meet preseason expectations.
New York Mets
So far, the Mets have been the most profitable team in the division, which is a surprise to most going over the MLB odds daily.
New York has gotten by with adequate starting pitching, and while the bullpen was terrific to start the season, the cast of no-names has started to shown a few chinks in the armor of late.
The offense is 28th in batting average (.229), and 29th in slugging percentage (.339), yet is managing to score 4.2 runs a contest thanks to a good batting eye (2nd in the NL in walks) and some timely hitting.
Long-term prospects are still not positive for the Metropolitans, but most nights are worth consideration as underdogs.
While Cole Hamels has not come off the DL at the top of his game, chances are he will begin improving very soon. Philadelphia has a starting pitching staff which is prone to inducing ground balls (which is good), but might not have the right pieces to take advantage of this.
Only Houston pitchers have seen a rate of more ground balls than the Phillies, and while grounders are less dangerous than balls in the air, manager Ryne Sandberg starts three infielders (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins), who are in the mid-30’s and each no longer has the same range as three years ago. For the Phillies to surpass expectations, they have to do all the little things right, and find answers in a bullpen, which is last in the NL in ERA at 4.77.
In college football or basketball, there are teams which are world-beaters at home, but don’t need to get off the bus on the road because everyone knows they are already going to fail. This is the 2014 Miami Marlins. Miami is 15-5 in south Florida (+10.1 units) and is winning by a massive 2.5 runs per contest.
Free MLB Pick: On the road the Marlins are a meek 2-10 (-7.9), being outscored by 2.1 runs a game. It's not too hard to figure how to make the most of your MLB picks with Miami these days.