With the All-Star break upon us and only Gold Cup and European soccer to sustain us, now’s a great time to re-examine division wagers and see if we can cash in during the second half. With schedules unbalanced and about 75 games to play, there’s plenty of time to figure things out and find some value for what remains of the season. Here’s what I’m looking at in the AL East.
BEST BET: TAMPA BAY RAYS, +140
Reason: The Rays might trail the Red Sox by 1.5 games right now, but the schedule looks like it’s going to turn in Tampa Bay’s favor. The Rays have already played the Yankees 13 times, compared to just six from the Red Sox. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay gets another 13 games with the Orioles, who aren’t likely to get any better as this season progresses. Boston has already played 10 against Baltimore and still has 10 games with the Blue Jays, who have proven a solid road team.
The Red Sox just don’t offer enough value at -155 with the schedule working against them and a lead that slim. Unless Boston can continue its mastery of the Yankees, which I doubt, the schedule is well set up for Tampa Bay to catch and pass the Red Sox for the AL East crown.
VALUE PLAY: TORONTO BLUE JAYS, +1100
Reason: Eight games is a large mountain to climb, but the Blue Jays actually have a real chance if they can handle Boston over the rest of the season. The Jays only have a few games left against the Yankees and Rays, having already played a combined 25 out of 38 games against New York and Tampa Bay. At the same time, they haven’t even seen Detroit or Minnesota and have another 10 games to play against Baltimore.
I like the Jays’ chances a lot better than I do the Yankees, who are going off at +1200. New York has the opportunity if it can figure out Boston, as it still has to play 13 more games with the Red Sox. But if the Yankees can’t improve on the 0-6 they’ve put up against Boston, they don’t have a chance to overcome this deficit.
OUT OF THE RUNNING: BALTIMORE ORIOLES, +50000
Reason: With the Orioles sitting 33 games under .500 and 26 games behind the Red Sox, there’s a better chance Baltimore is mathematically eliminated by the end of August than there is of the Orioles winning the division. You’d turn $1 into $1,000 if it somehow hit, but I’d rather spend that buck on the roulette table or a scratch ticket, because at least that’s got a realistic chance of returning something.