If you thought CNBC's - West Texas Investor's Club - was nuts, good luck trying to figure who is going to win the two wild card spots in the American League and continually beat the MLB odds.
Those self-made millionaires only do things on their terms and if you want to beat the sportsbooks with your MLB picks, you are going to need the same homespun savvy to weave through the teams that are competing for the wild card, yet still having a great desire to win their divisions and settling for the playoffs if necessary.
Here is a look at the numerous possibilities as a baseball handicapper.
Most Solid for a Wild Card Home Game
As of August 25th, Toronto and the New York Yankees were tied for first place in the AL East and given either has a four-game lead on Texas for the first wild card position, you would have to like their chances, at least for now.
Anyone placing sports picks is well aware of the Blue Jays' potent offense, which can bludgeon opposing pitching staffs and sap their confidence. However, what has really altered Toronto fortunes is their pitching, now ranked sixth in run prevention and their once horrific bullpen has moved all the way up fourth in the league.
The Yankees are very similar to Toronto, with fairly decent starting pitching, a good bullpen and can score in bunches because they can hit the long ball. New York has an experience edge with more players that have gone through and succeeded this time of year, but they have a slightly tougher schedule. Most likely whatever team that has the edge in the remaining seven tilts will be your winner.
Next Tier Down in AL Wild Card Race
By virtue of winning 17 of 24, Texas has jettisoned into the final slot for the playoffs, but has even bigger ideas now. The Rangers have rode hard to be only two behind first place Houston in the loss column and could catch them. With Cole Hamels and Derek Holland now a part of the Texas starting staff to go along with Yovani Gallardo and Colby Lewis, the Rangers are more formidable and given how they have been playing great at home to compliment their fine away record all season, this looks like a club getting hot at the right time.
Houston is showing signs of strain having lost 17 of 21 road games (as of 8/24) and unless they find answers, Texas could catch them and the Astros fall back to wild card. Unless Houston can start winning on the road, they resemble a .500 club down the stretch which might not be enough. Who already is not looking forward to seven remaining rodeos between the Rangers and Houston in September!
Wild Card Chasers
By virtue of taking four games at Baltimore, Minnesota has reversed their fortunes and sits a couple games back of Texas for the last open seat. The Twins make their move by having all their starting pitchers helping lower their ERA closer to 4 (presently at 4.23) and having the setup men do their jobs to end up with closer Glen Perkins finishing off games. Minnesota will have a chance, with six tilts left with Houston and home series with the Los Angeles Angels. However, how they do against a dangerous Cleveland club (7 games) might be equally as important.
The Angels have slid to third in the AL West and while still on the cusp, not many positives. It is hard to imagine a team with Mike Trout would be 11th in scoring in the AL, yet the Halos are. Their overall pitching has been below average for a few weeks and in the role of underdog, they are 13-32 this season. With seven matchups with Texas, six with Houston, plus a four-game swing thru the Twins Cities and hosting the Dodgers, the MLB odds looked stacked against the Angels.
Baltimore and Tampa Bay are a game behind the Halos but are merely .500 teams. The Orioles have lacked consistency all year and of their remaining games this season, only six are not against playoff contenders. The Rays closing part of the schedule is very similar to the O's with an additional three easier matchups with Miami, but can you possibly back the worst offense team in the junior circuit?