The All-Star break is in the rearview mirror and the trade deadline is a mere two weeks away.
In other words, the heat is going to reach new highs in the MLB regular season very soon as the race towards the postseason gets cranked up a few notches.
With that, it makes sense to take a peek at the MLB’s divisional odds to see if we can extract some betting value while cranking up the entertainment value on these races as they unfold.
Not every division appears up for grabs, but we’ve seen some crazy happenings down the stretch before and we will see more in the future.
You just never know.
*Odds courtesy of Bovada
**Divisional/Playoff percentages courtesy of FanGraphs
New York Yankees (-2500)
Currently, in the driver’s seat in the AL East with a six-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays, it’s hard not to love the Bronx Bombers’ chances of winning the division .
They’ve fought off some long-term injuries to their best players and are still the team to beat, albeit in a division that’s weakened this season. Still, their record is the best in the American League despite losing Luis Severino, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge for a long period of time while almost every lineup regular has landed on the IL at some point this season.
What’s more is the Yankees are likely to add starting pitching at the deadline – their biggest need given the disappointing season from J.A. Happ and the ugly peripherals attached to C.C. Sabathia.
There’s a very good chance the Yankees cruise to an AL East crown, but these odds don’t offer value.
Tampa Bay Rays (+1000)
The Rays are once again surprising to the upside as the pre-season forgotten team behind the Yankees and Red Sox in the race for the AL East.
Charlie Morton has proven to be the best free-agent signing of the winter and is a real threat to win the AL Cy Young with an AL-best 2.35 ERA and 2.79 FIP while striking out the opposition at an 11.22 K/9 clip. Morton’s success has helped hide the long-term injury to Tyler Glasnow – who came out of the gate hot – and the inconsistency of 2018 AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell.
The Rays will likely need to add some offensive punch at the trade deadline if they want to keep up with the bats of the Yankees and the recent red-hot sticks of the Boston Red Sox.
Catching the Yankees will be tough, but at just six games back the Rays would be worth a sprinkle if they can bolster the offense before the end of July.
Boston Red Sox (+1400)
The Red Sox came out of the gate sluggish all-around as they simply aren’t resembling the 2018 team that went wire to wire as the best team in baseball and finished with a World Series championship despite featuring an almost-identical roster.
The entire pitching staff has been inconsistent but the struggles in the rotation have been of the utmost concern. The Boston rotation ranks 19th with a 4.73 ERA and only David Price has an ERA south of the 4.27 mark Chris Sale sports on the season.
Expect Dave Dombrowski to be on the lookout for pitching help, more so than the Andrew Cashner deal after Cashner allowed five runs in five innings in his Red Sox debut on Tuesday.
In terms of catching the Yankees, it appears it will take a minor miracle and I simply don’t think the Red Sox have it in them to do so given the rate the Yankees continue to win at here in 2019.
Toronto Blue Jays (+350000)
There’s no chance the Blue Jays play postseason baseball in 2019, but that’s not to say it’s been a totally lost season.
The emergence of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. since being brought back up from Triple-A has given the Blue Jays another young bat to build around to complement the sky-high upside of Vladimir Guerro Jr. as well as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, and the recently hot Danny Jansen behind the dish.
The Jays could be due for some more future assets if they are able to find a trade for ace Marcus Stroman during his career-year, but the organization will need more young pitching to support the emergence of those young, productive bats for future contention.
At 25.5 games out the Blue Jays clearly don’t offer a sliver of hope on a wager, however, they should be an interesting club to watch in terms of trade action over the next couple of weeks.
Baltimore Orioles (+350000)
The Orioles, as expected, are the worst team in baseball and appear far from contending in any subsequent seasons.
He’s still just 26 years of age, but right-hander Dylan Bundy has been unable to bounce back from a dismal 2018 with a 5.28 ERA and 5.31 FIP to go along with a once-again huge 2.05 HR/9 clip.
As a result, the Orioles are left with few trade chips after clearing house at last season’s trade deadline and will look to developing their improved system to future contention.
Clearly the Orioles aren’t worth a bet, and likely won’t be for years to come, barring a miracle.
Minnesota Twins (-1700)
After some lineup-bolstering offseason moves, the Twins have emerged as one of the very best teams in baseball here in 2019.
Nelson Cruz, C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, and Marwin Gonzalez were all added to the everyday lineup while the Twins have enjoyed massive breakout seasons from the likes of Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, and Mitch Garver as well as a resurgent season from fellow backstop Jason Castro.
Nothing has gone wrong for the Twins on offense, but it’s the 3.73 ERA (4th) from their rotation that’s been surprisingly impressive. Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Martin Perez all sport sub-4.00 ERAs on the season while all five rotation regulars are at 4.38 or under.
Look for the Twins to bolster their bullpen ahead of the July 31st trade deadline.
The Indians have jumped into the fray with a hot June and July to this point and at just five games back they could make things interesting in the AL Central. As a result, these -1700 odds seem steep and aren’t providing much value with the rival Indians closing in.
Cleveland Indians (+400)
On the first of June, the Indians sat at .500 with a 29-29 record, 10.5 games back of the first-place Twins and only a 6.4% chance of winning the division.
They’ve gone 24-11 since, cut their division deficit in half and doubled their chances of winning the division. The odds are still slim, but 69 games still remain including seven against the Twins and eight against the Tigers who have been the worst team in baseball over the last couple of months.
The return of Mike Clevinger to the rotation helps and Shane Bieber is having a Cy Young caliber season. What’s most impressive has been their league-best bullpen – by far – with a 3.41 ERA, just one season after ranking 25th with a 4.60 bullpen ERA.
If they can close the gap even further within the next couple of weeks it’s realistic to see the Indians perhaps as buyers at the deadline with some offensive upgrades on the front burner.
The Twins are clearly a very good ball club, but the Indians are very much worth a sprinkle here with so much time still left in the 2019 regular season.
Chicago White Sox (+25000)
The White Sox were hanging around the fringes of the Wild Card race throughout the earlier part of the season but have fallen behind several other clubs over the last couple of months.
The Sox have dropped five in a row entering play on Wednesday night and continue to get very little from their starting pitching – by fair their Achilles heel.
The White Sox have two of the three worst qualified starters inside of their rotation in Ivan Nova (5.60 ERA) and Reynaldo Lopez (5.97) and their rotation has provided them a 5.15 ERA, good for 27th league wide.
Armed with some good young bats, the White Sox are going to need to focus on pitching to contend moving forward.
Zero value here, but it might not be long before Chicago’s rebuild bears fruit.
Kansas City Royals (+500000)
For a team that could lose another 100 games this season, the Royals are kind of interesting.
For one, they lead Major League Baseball with 88 stolen bases on the season. Second, they have a guy in Jorge Soler who has blasted 25 home runs on the season, a breakout bat in Hunter Dozier and one of the more dynamic middle infield duos in the league in Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi.
What they don’t have, is pitching. The Royals’ rotation ranks 23rd with a 5.15 ERA on the season. Their bullpen is better, but not by much, with a 4.81 ERA.
Starter-turned-closer Ian Kennedy could fetch some assets at the deadline with his 3.32 ERA/2.26 FIP and 10.89 K/9 on the season, but the Royals will need to add pitching to the organization and hope right-hander Brady Singer is the real deal when his time in the big leagues rolls around.
The Royals aren’t worth any wagers at 25.5 games out, and it could still be a while before any Royals futures can be considered.
Detroit Tigers (+500000)
A better-than-expected start to the season on the back of starting pitching is a distant memory for the team that’s been the worst in baseball of late.
Detroit have gone 11-40 since May 13th as the offense and bullpen continue to stink the joint out.
They could be a team to keep an eye on at the deadline, however, as staff ace Matthew Boyd is one of the more attractive names on the market while closer Shane Greene and his 1.06 ERA along with 22 saves could be one of the top relievers dealt within the next couple of weeks.
Expect the Tigers to be near or at the bottom of this division for the next year or two before their impressive crop of pitching prospects arrive in Detroit.
Houston Astros (-5000)
The Astros are the second-biggest favorite to win their division as the remainder of the AL West continues to lag the 2017 World Series champs.
Both Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are in Cy Young contention with Verlander the odds-on favorite to take home the hardware at this point.
The offense – despite a long list of injuries throughout the season – is the second-best in baseball by virtue of their .344 wOBA, just slightly behind the Twins and their 3.46 mark.
The bullpen has faltered of late, however still ranks third with a 3.86 ERA on the season. The Astros could be in the market for a third big-time starter behind the Verlander/Cole duo which could make them a tough beat in any playoff series.
I’m not a fan of this wager at all. The A’s are once again surging and any bet on the Astros at these odds is foolish.
Oakland Athletics (+900)
I’m not privy to the formula FanGraphs is using to calculate their division chances, however, a 2.3% chance for a team only 4.5 games out is rather interesting, to say the least.
As per their 2018 season, the A’s are scorching hot entering the dog days of the season. The A’s have gained five games on the Astros since the first of June and are currently riding a five-game win streak as well as going 8-2 over their last 10.
They’ll also get staff ace Sean Manaea back from shoulder surgery likely sometime in August, and if he can find his 2018 stuff he should give this team a massive boost. The offense is already dynamite and the bullpen is back to being dominant with their 3.91 bullpen ERA checking at fifth league wide.
They added veteran Homer Bailey to the rotation, but one had to wonder if Billy Beane wants to increase those playoff odds with a higher-impact trade acquisition in the next couple of weeks.
The A’s are every bit worth a look at these odds. They’ve outperformed the Astros of late and have a whopping 11 head-to-head matchups left against their rival. This is some big-time value here.
Texas Rangers (+2200)
The Rangers have done well to hang above .500 in the deepest division in the junior circuit, but they’ll need to take some big strides to come close to the A’s and Astros in the race for AL West supremacy.
The Rangers can really swing it and they’ve needed to. Texas has received a 4.99 ERA from their starting pitching this season, good for 21st in the league. The bullpen has not been much better at all with a 4.87 ERA, good for 22nd. Overall, the Rangers rank 23rd with a 4.93 ERA from their pitching staff this season.
Thankfully, their offense ranks 11th with a .325 wOBA and tied for seventh with a .334 wOBA against right-handed pitching. It’s far too difficult to fix that entire pitching staff within the next two weeks, but a small addition or two can’t be ruled out given the fact they’re just four games out of a Wild Card spot in a weak American League.
The Rangers are going to be hard-pressed to even make the playoffs and their severe lack of quality pitching gives them zero chance to catch the Astros or even the A’s in the race of AL West supremacy.
Los Angeles Angels (+2800)
It’s hard not to be pulling for the Angels moving forward.
After the tragic passing of Tyler Skaggs, the Angels have caught fire. They have yet to lose coming out of the All-Star break as they swept the Mariners and have taken the first two of four from the division-leading Astros.
There is a single sliver of hope for the division and some increased hope for a postseason berth, but the Angels are playing like a team with playoff aspirations regardless.
The offense ranks eighth with a .331 wOBA on the season but the rotation hasn’t kept up with a 5.28 ERA, good for 25th in baseball. Starting pitching upgrades are a deadline must if this team wants to get into the dance.
Crazier things have happened than for the Angels to make up their nine-game deficit and climb three teams to win the AL West, but I don’t see a ton of upside in any bet for the Angels to win this division at this point.
Seattle Mariners (+350000)
Remember when the Seattle Mariners shot out of the gate and were absolutely destroying the baseball?
It appeared some off-season re-tooling with an eye on the future was going to pay quick dividends, but boy have the Mariners come crashing back down to earth.
The Seattle firesale may not yet be complete, but there is plenty of more re-tooling left to do in Seattle, especially on the pitching side as their rotation ranks 29th with a 5.49 ERA while the bullpen checks in at 27th with a 5.10 ERA. Combined, Seattle’s pitching staff ranks 28th with a 5.32 ERA, ahead of only the Orioles (30th) and Rockies (29th).
Nothing to see here for the Mariners in 2019, and at this rate, it may be a few years yet before Seattle is able to compete with the clubs ahead of them in this difficult AL West.