As we head into the final part of the baseball season, it's time to take stock of the MLB odds and what kind of conclusions we could look for.
The National League participants are basically set, unless somebody goes 20-something and zero the rest of the season or some presumed teams now in the driver's seat has a catastrophe and finishes 0 for the rest of the year, with either streak being something every person placing sports picks or MLB handicappers would want to be a part of.
The American League is less clear, with more possibilities and could well come down to final days, which is good for business for sportsbooks. Time to run through the numbers and teams.
American League Outlook
As it has the last several weeks, by all appearances either the New York Yankees or Toronto will be the host of a pressure-packed one-game playoff to advance next round. New York is in the trail position, yet still leads Texas, who is five games back in the loss column. Both the Yanks and Blue Jays have won six of their last 10 (as of 9/11) and still have six games against each other, which is the likely tiebreaker. Where New York would appear to be at the greater disadvantage against the betting odds is still having a series at Flushing versus the ridiculously hot Mets.
Texas actually caught Houston for first place, but fell right back into second in the AL West. In order for the Rangers to earn a home field edge against one of the teams from the AL East, this is what would need to happen. Say those clubs play around the same pace they have most of the year and close 12-10. In order for Texas pass either, that would require a 16-6 end to the season run. Possible yes, likely no.
The Astros as expected have been jittery down the stretch and are in a real fight for the division and have not necessarily locked up a playoff spot either. The L.A. Angels give no indication of making a move, nonetheless, they trail Texas by only three for the last slot. The Rangers are in the most advantageous position in the games among the three teams, having eight home games, compared to the Astros (6) and the Halos (3).
Do not forget about Minnesota either, as they are only one game behind Texas. The Twins have 13 home games remaining and of those left to play on the road, all are against losing teams in their division, with little to play for except pride. While the Twinkies have only been favored 23 times all season, they are position to sneak in if they just play their game.
Cleveland can also be mentioned thanks to winning 11 of 15 and being four behind the Rangers. They just have a number of teams to climb over, though only six away games left and as per usual, playing great as the season closes under skipper Terry Francona.
National League Outlook
As mentioned, unless the Chicago Cubs finish 0 and 20 something (cannot rule out, it is the Cubs) or Washington or San Francisco goes scalding at 20-0, it sure appears Chicago is back in the postseason.
However, the complexion of the situation has changed with St. Louis and Pittsburgh both slumping. The Cardinals have played like a tired team and while they still maintain a four-game lead in the NL Central, they still have six road games remaining with Cubs and Pirates and have completed home series with them.
Pittsburgh is in swivel chair, looking forward trying to catch the Cardinals, yet also looking behind them with Chicago just two games in the rear. The Pirates are in position to control their own destiny, but home and home with Cubbies, and three each with the Redbirds (home) and Dodgers (road) will not be easy.
At this point Joe Maddon's team is playing with house money, basically in the postseason and nothing to lose. The nine games with Bucs and Cards will be interesting for MLB picks.