Rounding the bases: Hottest bets in the big leagues
Every week, we update you on who's hot, who's not and situational betting spots in Major League Baseball (All records and statistics through Saturday):
HOT TEAM: Atlanta Braves
THIS SEASON: 34-25.
LAST WEEK: 6-1.
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE: Home to the Yankees for three, home to the Orioles for three.
THE SKINNY: The Braves might be the most balanced, consistent group out there in the very competitive NL East. Atlanta is two games out of first place, and though it has struggled in the division (8-11), the club is getting it done everywhere else. Martin Prado was hitting .320, Dan Uggla had 41 RBIs, and Michael Bourn had 16 steals as Atlanta concluded a weekend set against Toronto.
All seems well with a team that collapsed down the stretch last season but has rallied around that pain. And do not discount the fate of Chipper Jones in that motivation talk as well. He went on the disabled list May 24 with a left calf contusion, but returned to the lineup Sunday. His teammates see the way he has worked to get back. They respect that and every player wants to send the veteran to the postseason before he calls it a career.
COLD TEAM: Colorado Rockies
THIS SEASON: 24-34.
LAST WEEK: 2-5.
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE: Home to the Athletics for three, at the Tigers for three.
THE SKINNY: The Rockies have been ho-hum all season. They entered Sunday’s game against the Angels 13 games out of first place in the National League West. But last week was particularly tough, as they lost a pair to Arizona in a 24-hour span by a combined 16-1 score.
In a four-game losing streak, before Sunday’s action, the Rockies allowed 34 runs. That's not going to get it done when you trot out an inconsistent offense to support that staff, and that's what the Rockies do. Carlos Gonzalez has been tremendous. But when one player leads your team in several offensive categories, it often isn’t a good sign.
The Rockies are way out of contention, as a result, and on the mound, they don't have a pitcher with five wins yet.
OVER TEAM: Oakland Athletics
O/U THIS SEASON: 23-34-3.
O/U LAST WEEK: 5-2.
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE: At the Rockies for three, home to the Padres for three.
THE SKINNY: This is rare real estate for the Athletics in any season. Even in the “Moneyball” heyday, when they were winning at a great clip, it wasn’t on the strength of overwhelming offense.
Listen, Oakland will always have a huge ballpark, and a not-so-huge payroll, so more times than not, the Athletics will be an under team. But something has gotten into them lately. They beat the Rangers of all teams, 12-1, and 7-1, last week, and scored 11 runs in the first two games of the weekend series with Arizona. Not bad.
UNDER TEAM: Toronto Blue Jays
O/U THIS SEASON: 27-29-3.
O/U LAST WEEK: 2-5.
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE: Home to the Nationals for three, at the Phillies for three.
THE SKINNY: Toronto has a better offense than it’s showed, but that’s not your problem. As they underachieve, it’s only helped their value as a solid under play in the late spring. Playing in National League ballparks hasn’t helped -- and notice they close this week at Philadelphia -- as the Blue Jays scored just five runs in their first two games in Atlanta. They did break out in a 12-4 win Sunday.
Things will pick up. This team, after all, has Jose Bautista (17 home runs), Edwin Encarnacion (43 RBIs), and J.P. Arencibia (seven doubles) to rely on. And keep in mind that what was perceived as a solid pitching staff has been underwhelming, and that may help turn the tide to overs, as well. Toronto began Sunday’s action 19th in both team ERA (4.09) and WHIP (1.33).
But for now, something’s a bit off throughout, and the unders have been pouring in. In their last 11 games, they posted seven unders.