Next week at this time, roughly half the teams in baseball will be at the midway point of their season, and that means people like us will also be halfway through our MLB picks for 2015.
Also, before too long sportsbooks will have a greater disparity of who the true contenders for the postseason are and some of the favorites you may like as a baseball handicapper making futures sports picks will have much shorter MLB odds, decreasing their value.
Just under a month ago I reviewed all the betting odds of the teams that were classified as potential contenders and I will review what has changed and who is moving up, down or remaining the same before October comes.
Teams Bettors are Playing
At 5Dimes, where you will find some of the best lines, Washington has become the new betting favorite at +750, down from +800. There's no question that it is a small change, however, they leapfrogged three teams to be the new favorite. Among the key reasons is that the entire starting rotation is back together and both Stephen Strasburg and Doug Fister started to look like their old selves. With Bryce Harper having an MVP-type season, there's plenty to like about the Nationals if a couple more everyday players like Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth can be factors after the All-Star break.
Cannot say for certain why San Francisco is down to +1200 from +1500, other than the faith and trust they deserve from being three-time champions the last five seasons. The pedigree is in place, but the starting pitching has question marks just to make the postseason, let alone do damage.
The Chicago Cubs are also attracting more attention, having slipped from +1800 to +1500. Joe Maddon's team has made tremendous strides but to assume this very young and inexperienced team is ready to conquer the baseball world, not sure that's in the cards just yet.
Finally, the New York Yankees have progressed from +1600 to +1400 odds. New York has been playing in spurts and one can assume when they look good Yankee fans start smelling pennant fever.
Squads Slipping or Staying Put
St. Louis, Kansas City and the Los Angeles Dodgers have not fallen off the edge, it is just that Washington had a non-partisan surge. The Cardinals and Dodgers went a little in reverse from +700 to +800, as neither continues to show much on the road, particularly L.A., as both offenses do not score close to the same rate as at home. The Royals have slowly been coming backwards and while still potent at 4.4 runs per contest, that is down from 4.8 most of the season. The starting pitching is not up to last year's standards with the No. 12 ERA in the AL and compiling the fewest amount of innings used.
Detroit has taken the steepest tumble, down from +1200 to +1600, with real concerns about starting pitching beyond David Price. Justin Verlander is an unknown and though several others have talent, it is just not on display start after start.
Houston slid slightly from +1900 to +2000, as Collin McHugh has turned into an unreliable starting pitcher, leaving Dallas Keuchel in the same boat as Price from the Tigers. And while some national baseball reports are lauding managers like A.J. Hinch of the Astros, Kevin Cash of Tampa Bay and to a lesser degree Ned Yost of K.C., by using their bullpens so expertly to supposedly save their starters, let see what these arms out of the pen look like the last six weeks of the season if all are in division races. Do not be sold a bill of goods, if a skipper could have three or four starters who went seven innings each time out, they would ask where to sign.
I'm a bit stunned that Pittsburgh has not moved up, having the second-best record in the senior-circuit and a proven squad over the last few years, remaining at +1800.
Finally, bettors and oddsmakers do not believe Tampa Bay to even be a factor despite being in first place in the AL East, ranked first in pitching ERA in the AL and third in the majors. The Rays are even behind the Mets (+2000) with odds of +2200.