In just a matter of days, Washington opened up the biggest division lead in the National League thanks to playing solid baseball and Atlanta being easy meat with sports picks as play against crew.
What is in the cards for the Nationals, Braves and other NL East teams against the betting odds as we look ahead? Time to utilize the 20/10 glasses that look into the future and see how each club looks against the MLB odds.
In reviewing Washington, as we have been saying all year, you just have the sense this team has more to offer. With just under two months in the regular season, who is to say the Nationals could not get hotter than a debate between Republicans and Democrats and run away with the East and have the best record in the league.
With Ryan Zimmerman out yet again, this would be a great time for Bryce Harper to elevate his game much in the way Denard Span has the past month. Off two sharp outings, Stephen Strasburg is beginning to look like what manager Matt Williams needs. While I have been somewhat critical of this club, they have played into some bad luck being 13-17 in one-run games and 3-8 in extra innings.
Washington has moved to the front of the league in run differential at +76 and might be ready to fulfill the potential of MLB handicappers like myself the rest of the season.
With six straight losses, Atlanta is where they belong, a team with 58-54 record (-5.7 units) and +9 run differential. Pass the blame to the Braves front office for failing to realize their offense is starving the rest of the team. They are averaging 3.76 runs per game, which wastes more solid pitching performances than spending time reading news about Linda Hogan (Hulk’s ex).
Subtract Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman and the Braves offense turn into San Diego’s, whom they were just swept by.
Using Atlanta with one of you MLB picks might be futile despite their pitching and their only real hope might be the nine remaining games with Washington.
Betting Miami these days is like a ride at Great America, there are going to be a lot of ups and downs. After dropping three out four at home to Cincinnati, the Marlins hit the road to Pittsburgh and the Reds before St. Louis shows up in south Florida.
The general perception of Miami right now is they are wearing down, with too many injuries to pitchers and not enough bodies to hold up over a long season. The top four most used bullpens in the NL are Colorado, Miami, Chicago and Arizona, who have a combined win percentage of 42 percent and have lost 43.9 units this season.
This seems very much the direction Miami is heading.
New York Mets
Right before the All-Star break New York had a brief spurt to propel them into the wild card chase, unfortunately for them; they have gone 6-9 since the break and are eight games behind in the leaders.
In trying to figure out how to view the Mets for the rest of the season, it is a given the offense will not score many runs. However, sportsbooks will look favorably starting pitchers Jacob deGrom (2.77 ERA), an improving Zach Wheeler (lowered ERA a run in L10 starts) and a competitive Jon Niese (3.24).
Backing this trio might be the best play on the Metropolitans as long as one understands New York is 13th in save percentage in the NL.
If it hasn’t been dead, it is now, the Phillies era of being an elite team has passed. They tried the last couple of years to hang on and hope, but Father Time came calling and added finality in 2014.
Betting against Philadelphia at home makes sense with their 22-33 record (-13.5) and considering them on the road is not the worst thought at 27-30 (+6.5).
With the current status of the Phils, this will not be the first time they finish last in the NL East in the coming years.