1: Pittsburgh Pirates (87-62, +$2,508) (LW: 1): The Pirates held the Cubs to two runs or fewer in three of their four games this week, and they are now in the lead in the NL Central going into the last two weeks of the year as a result. Can the Bucs really finish this off and capture the division title? Unfortunately for them, they still have six games left with the Reds, including three this week in the final three home games of the regular season at PNC Park. You can bet that the Steel City is going to be rocking and rolling for their new found heroes.
2: Boston Red Sox (92-59, +$2,137) (LW: 2): Boston might have finally dealt a fatal blow to the Yankees this year. Sweeping a three-game series against the boys from the Bronx not only ensured that the Yanks probably wouldn’t have a pulse again this year, but it also probably assured once and for all that the team was going to have the best record in the American League this year and the home field advantage that comes with it. There’s still only two games in the loss column separating the Sox and the A’s, but the number of games remaining is clearly dwindling.
3: Oakland Athletics (88-61, +$1,705) (LW: 4): What a phenomenal time to go on a roll! Oakland was able to really put the AL West away this week, and it did so in fine fashion. The team was three up going into a weekend series in Arlington, and rather than get out of town up just two games after losing two out of three, the A’s pounded home 15 runs in three days (giving them 41 runs in five days in total) to open up a six-game lead in the division. It’s all over but the crying now in the AL West, especially with home dates with the Angels and Twins coming up.
4: Cleveland Indians (81-68, +$1,602) (LW: 3): There is only one measly game that is separating the Indians from the playoffs right now, and there are two teams that can be caught. After losing a series at home against the Royals in somewhat shocking form, Cleveland rebounded this week and scored 32 runs in four games against the White Sox to come up with an emphatic sweep. There’s three more against the Royals on the road this week, but the rest of this schedule stinks. We’d bet on Cleveland getting one of the Wild Card slots at this point.
5: Atlanta Braves (89-60, +$1,125) (LW: 6): Losing two out of three at home to the Padres was inexcusable for the Braves, but it was further proof that they have really packed it in for the end of the regular season. Atlanta knows that it doesn’t have to win another game this season, as it will win the NL East, and the only question that’s left is whether this will be the top seed in the league or not. Three starting pitchers are on the DL right now, and someone is going to have to come back and pitch effectively, or the Braves are in some trouble.
6: Los Angeles Dodgers (86-63, +$914) (LW: 5): Can you believe that the Dodgers have only won three times in their last 11 games? At some point, this club was going to come back down to earth, but we didn’t know that it was going to be so quickly. Perhaps Manager Don Mattingly can get his boys rallied again over the course of these last two weeks of the season, knowing that the top spot in the NL playoffs is still very much so up for grabs. Complacency this time of year is going to be atrocious.
7: St. Louis Cardinals (87-62, +$566) (LW: 7): The Cards are standing in there shot for shot with the Pirates, and they have withstood what seems to be the biggest part of the challenge. All of a sudden, St. Louis definitively has the easier of the two schedules left, and as long as the Bucs don’t just go on a nuts near, we think that the division title is going to be back in the Gateway to the West in spite of the huge challenge. In this 7-2 run over the course of the last 10 days, the Cardinals have plated at least nine runs three times and a dozen runs twice.
8: New York Yankees (79-71, +$540) (LW: 9): The Yankees aren’t out of it yet, but getting swept by the Red Sox and now being without SS Derek Jeter, likely for the rest of the season, isn’t a good thing. Here’s the good news, though. What’s left are three games with the Jays, three with the Giants, three with Tampa Bay at home, and three with Houston. There’s a real chance to win nine of those games. The question: Is 88 victories going to be enough to get into the second season? It’s going to be really, really close, and we can’t imagine that anything less than that would suffice under much of any circumstance.
9: Kansas City Royals (78-71, +$401) (LW: 10): The fact of the matter is that the Royals have played the Tigers and the Indians really tough over the course of the last week and a half. The bad news though, is that going 5-4 in those nine games really wasn’t enough when you consider how many games have to be made up at the end of the year. You’ve got to think that five out of six against Cleveland and Texas this week is the bare minimum that has to be had to get the Royals back into the thick of the fight, and just like the case is with New York, that might not be enough.
10: Minnesota Twins (64-84, +$178) (LW: 11): You wouldn’t have known it, but the Twins really weren’t playing for a pennant on Sunday. They did erase a three-run deficit against the Rays and came back to win a crippling game against the boys from the Sunshine State, though. That stopped a stretch of four straight losses, two of which ended in shutouts. Minnesota has the thankless series to start this week against the White Sox in which approximately 17 non-betting people will care about any of the three games.
11: Baltimore Orioles (79-70, +$167) (LW: 8): This is going to be the week where Baltimore goes back and kicks itself if it doesn’t get into the playoffs. The O’s lost three out of four at home against the Yankees and a game to the Blue Jays, and all but one of those losses came by a single run. The opportunity is there to take care of business on their own this week, but the Orioles have three road games in Boston and then three in Tampa Bay. It’s going to be tough to get through this, but Baltimore won’t have a choice if it wants to play in the playoffs again.
12: San Diego Padres (68-80, -$144) (LW: 13): The Padres should be proud of the way that they played this weekend against the Braves, as they scored victories in two out of three games, including getting what was a monster win on Sunday at +183.RHP Burch Smith is only just barely 23 years old, but he came up on September 1st and lit the world on fire for his first Major League win. Smith allowed 15 runs in 7.1 innings of work in his first three starts of his career, so it was great to see him fan 10 and hurl seven scoreless against Atlanta on Sunday.
13: Cincinnati Reds (84-66, -$144) (LW: 12): It’s unbelievable just how badly the Reds shoot themselves in the foot time and time again. They were coming off of a huge series sweep against the Dodgers when we were talking about them last week, and rather than just take care of business against the Cubs and Brewers, they went off and lost four out of six. The margin right now in the NL Central? Four games. Cincinnati will kick itself if it ends up being in a fight for its life down the stretch.
14: Arizona Diamondbacks (75-73, -$275) (LW: 16): So you’re saying there’s a chance… Okay, it’s not very likely at all that Arizona is still going to have a mathematical shot of getting into the playoffs going into the final week of the season, but at least there’s a puncher’s chance. The D’Backs have a relatively easy road the rest of the way, especially with the Dodgers slumping at the moment, and if they can roll off five or six games in a row, things could at least become interesting. Don’t count the Snakes out quite yet, though we’re getting close to that point.
15: Tampa Bay Rays (81-67, -$507) (LW: 14): The Rays can’t get out of their own way. They blew a three-run lead on Sunday at Target Field, and now, they have just one game of safety on the Indians with a slew of teams right in their back pocket. The next 11 games are against Texas, Baltimore, and New York, and if Tampa Bay isn’t going to post a winning record in these games, it has no one to blame but itself if it doesn’t get into the second season. Manager Joe Maddon and the gang badly need Tropicana Field rocking this week, and that’s historically been a real problem.
16: Washington Nationals (79-70, -$661) (LW: 20): We warned last week that the Nats might be able to go on a big time run over the course of the end of the season, and here they are. They’re still four back in the loss column of the Reds, but they’re definitely still fighting after taking eight out of their last nine. They’ve got to probably take at least five out of six this week to feel like they have a shot still, especially after plating 6.78 runs per game in these nine games and allowing two runs or fewer in six of the nine.
17: Detroit Tigers (86-63, -$752) (LW: 21): Now we feel a little bit better about the Tigers. It got a little hairy there last week, especially with the way that the Indians have been playing, but Detroit settled down this past week and took two out of three from the White Sox and two out of three from the Royals. Taking four out of seven against the Mariners and White Sox this week at home, all of which will be games in which they are favored and most of which they will be favored by a huge margin, will be the ticket to ensure that the Tigers will be in the postseason. They have allowed just seven runs in their last five games. Not bad for a team that gave up 20 in one game to Boston two weeks ago.
18: New York Mets (67-82, -$844) (LW: 17): An interesting week of low scoring games for the Mets. There were a total of eight runs scored in the last three games against the Marlins, and all four games ended up staying beneath the ‘total’. New York won three of the four, and now it has a chance to get back into third place in the division this week if it can take down the Giants and more importantly the Phillies. Still, at this point, the lineup looks atrocious for the Metropolitans, and this team has a lot of work to do on this batting order going into next year.
19: Chicago Cubs (63-86, -$938) (LW: 19): The Cubs managed to quite possible spoil Cincinnati’s season, and that could bode well for the future. We still look around the league and see all of the players that are playing for contending teams right now that were with Chicago earlier this year, and then we look at the kids, some of which are playing in the bigs now that the rosters have expanded, and we smile. We know that the Cubs are building their team the right way, and they could be factors in 2014 and beyond.
20: Texas Rangers (81-67, -$974) (LW: 15): Oh, Texas… There has never been a worse time to lose six games in a row, all of which came against playoff teams and all of which came at home. If you can’t beat Pittsburgh and Oakland at home with your season on the line, who can you beat? If the answer isn’t Tampa Bay and Kansas City on the road, the season is going to be over with for the Rangers and they’ll be stopped short of the second season. Manager Ron Washington and the crew collapsed epically this year.
21: Toronto Blue Jays (68-81, -$1,160) (LW: 18): The Jays were guaranteed a non-winning season this week, and you can tell that that 81st loss was one that really stung. It was really always a foregone conclusion since May or so that Toronto was going to end up with a losing record, but that doesn’t make it any easier of a pill to swallow. This was a team that was built to contend in 2013, and it just didn’t pan out that way. Watching former Manager John Farrell have such success with the Red Sox isn’t helping matters any either.
22: Milwaukee Brewers (65-83, -$1,203) (LW: 23): It’s not like there aren’t a few things to look forward to in the 2014 season for the Brew Crew. For one, OF Ryan Braun and OF Corey Hart should be back. SS Jean Segura is proving to be a great hitter, and OF Carlos Gomez just had the best year of his career. C Jonathan Lucroy has flashed some real power at times as well. Milwaukee can contend next season, but it is going to need to pitch a whole heck of a lot better than it has thus far this year to do so.
23: Houston Astros (51-98, -$1,282) (LW: 24): Give ’em this. At least they got to 50 wins this week, and at least they didn’t get to 100 losses this week. That said, the Astros are destined to be the first, and potentially the only team to get to 100 losses on the season, and that can’t feel all that good. We keep saying it, though. This is a squad that has some potential going forward, and what we are seeing is that the September team that was called up from the minors this year is at least somewhat fun to watch. The Astros are headed in the right direction for sure.
24: Seattle Mariners (66-83, -$1,423) (LW: 22): Not surprisingly, offense continues to be a problem for the Mariners. The team scored 13 runs over the course of the last seven games, and that isn’t going to get the job done. There’s just one win in that time, and now is when the schedule gets excruciatingly tough, knowing that teams are coming like Detroit that are in the thick of a playoff fight on the road. Good luck salvaging games for the rest of the season, Seattle. You’re going to need it.
25: Philadelphia Phillies (69-80, -$1,465) (LW: 27): It hasn’t been the prettiest work of art in the world, but at least the Phillies have made some money down the stretch of the season for their bettors, and there’s at least a fighting chance to get back to down just $1,000 for the rest of the year if the team goes on a bit of a roll. It’s still amazing to think that there is only one player on this team that has more than 16 home runs on the season, and that’s OF Domonic Brown. Brown really is the only player on this team that overachieved all season long, and he is going to be the crux of this team next year.
26: Colorado Rockies (68-82, -$1,565) (LW: 26): And then there are the Rockies, who may as well give it up on the season. The team probably has lost LHP Jorge De La Rosa for the rest of the year, and with that goes arguably their best pitcher in the rotation. OF Dexter Fowler is hurting as well, and that only sort of puts the icing on the cake of a season that started to turn south when both SS Troy Tulowitzki and OF Carlos Gonzalez were on the DL at the same time in the middle of the campaign.
27: Miami Marlins (55-94, -$1,787) (LW: 25): Let’s take a moment to give props to RHP Jose Fernandez, who is literally the only player on the Marlins that is worth watching. The team shut him down for the year after he crossed the 170 inning mark, and he went out in style, claiming his 12th win on a team that was one of the most pathetic that we have ever seen offensively. Now, we can get back to the bashing. Miami has one win without Fernandez on the mound since September 3rd. Yikes. The team needs 22 runs scored to get to 500 this year, and most teams were there at least a month ago.
28: Los Angeles Angels (72-77, -$2,049) (LW: 29): If the Halos had played like this the whole season, we would have been talking about this club winning the AL West. As it is, the Angels are only really left fighting to get back to .500 for the year. That in and of itself would be a huge accomplishment, but would it be enough to let Manager Mike Scioscia keep his job next year? We don’t think so, but it will at least give Arte Moreno something to think about as we head towards the offseason.
29: San Francisco Giants (69-81, -$2,235) (LW: 30): How on earth the Giants won three straight games against the Dodgers on the road is beyond us! They did manage to get the job done though, and now, they’re fighting to finish in third (and not in the gutter) in the NL West. 2B Marco Scutaro has a back problem that is probably going to keep him out of the lineup for a few games this week, and at this point, any injury that is suffered is likely going to be a season ending injury.
30: Chicago White Sox (58-91, -$3,007) (LW: 28): The Pale Hose were beaten in their last six games at home last week, and they are now clearly in a position where they are going to threaten that 100-loss barrier. It’s bad news all around for Manager Robin Ventura, who doesn’t have much of a team and doesn’t have much of a farm system either to show for the future. If you think that things are bad on the North Side of Chicago, going to the South Side makes things look even worse. We aren’t sold that this is a team that is going to contend at any point in the next 10 seasons.
Aaron Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.