25 games into the season and Tampa Bay is in first place, even with the Yankees starting fast out of the gate. Ryan Howard is now the most overpaid one-dimensional strikeout king since Mo Vaughn. And, I still have hope I might win my annual side bet of the White Sox having a better record than the Reds, because the Sox sure as hell aren’t winning anything else this year.
Wednesday game: Mets at Reds: While both teams are far from the league’s best, the Mets shock the world by actually being able to hold together a +.500 record, while the Reds are right there at the break even mark. Both teams have potential when healthy, but are a step below the Phils and Cards of the NL for being a real playoff threat at the moment. So it’s games like this that have a great potential to bet on. Behind a pair of no-name 1-1 pitchers, these teams couldn’t look more different otherwise on paper. The Mets are doing it with pitching (4th-best ERA in the NL) while the Reds are doing…nothing. 12th in team batting average and 14th in pitching. In fact, the only category the Reds are near the top in is saves. Reds will probably be a slight favorite as the home team, but I like the Mets, especially since their 1-1 pitcher’s ERA is a good 2 points below the starter for the Reds. Reds -110, Mets +110. Take the Mets even if they’re the favorite.
Rays at Mariners: Speaking of Tampa Bay, they try to keep it going on Wednesday in Seattle when Matt Garza faces off against Cliff Lee. Lee’s stats are irrelevant at the moment since this will only be his second start of the season. Garza is 4-1 with a beautiful 2.0 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. The Mariners are sitting in the basement in the AL East at the moment, but at 11-14 they’re not that far off the pace. They need to boost their .240 team average, though, if the team is going to make any serious run at a division title or wild car berth. Of course, this early they’re just taking it one game at a time, trying to hit their stride…you, know, all those excellent cliches. Cliff Lee is Cliff Lee, but the home team is facing a top pitcher right now themselves, and Tampa Bay deserves respect. They’ll be a favorite, although not as much as they should be because of Lee. Rays -125, Mariners +140. Bet the Rays and the under.