The Astros might hold the lead in the AL West, but that doesn’t mean this race is over with yet. With three foes within 10 games of Houston, the Astros are going to have to fight to maintain their hold on first place in both the division and the American League. Given that everyone but the Rangers are still in the playoff chase, this has potential to be an interesting tussle.
BEST BET: OAKLAND ATHLETICS, +400
Reason: The A’s are only 3.5 games back of first place, but the books are acting like that’s 13.5 games. However, the schedule suggests value in Oakland, considering that they’ve only got six games left against Houston for the rest of the season. Given that the A’s are 4-9 against the Astros this year, having Houston in the rearview mirror could be very helpful. However, this could go wrong if the Athletics have problems with the AL Central, because they haven’t yet seen either Cleveland or Chicago in 2021. Nor have they seen much of the Mariners, who have 13 opportunities to make up the 3.5 games they currently trail Oakland by. I’m not sure they can catch the Astros, but I’d rather take them at +400 than Houston at -750.
VALUE PLAY: SEATTLE MARINERS, +5000
Reason: For these kinds of odds, there’s a lot to like here. The Mariners have 12 shots at the Astros and 13 at the Athletics, which will either make or break them in this race. If Seattle can make a move against those two, they’ll have an excellent chance to make up the seven games by which they currently trail Houston. Out of their remaining schedule, 43 games come against the AL West, and the only opponent they haven’t seen at all is Kansas City, which has been playing out the string since May.
The Mariners’ pitching staff and a lack of Mike Trout in Anaheim means I’d rather have the Mariners at +5000 than the Angels at +4000. Both are longshots, but the M’s have a better chance to catch up if they can learn how to win on the road. The Angels don’t have a winning record against anyone in the AL West but Texas, and Shohei Ohtani can’t play every position.
OUT OF THE RUNNING: TEXAS RANGERS, +30000
Reason: It’s been a long, dark summer in Texas, and it’s only going to get darker and gloomier in Arlington when Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy likely find themselves traded for prospects. The Rangers are the American League’s worst team outside of Baltimore, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better in the Metroplex.