The American League West isn’t as tightly packed as the other division we’ve discussed today–the National League Central–but given their recent form the first place Houston Astros are going to have to deal with at least one and possibly several other contenders over the next month. The Oakland Athletics have been playing excellent baseball winning 8 of 10 and 6 straight and are just 4 games behind Houston. The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels are 8.5 and 9 games back respectively (all pending the end of Wednesday’s action). The Rangers have lost 6 of 10 but all of a sudden the Angels are heading up and could realistically pull into contention should they maintain this form. The Halos have won 7 of 10 and 5 straight and more importantly have taken the first two games of this series.
Baseball handicapping 101 has always suggested to ‘bet against a series sweep’ in most circumstances. The exception is when the team going for the sweep has a significant competitive reason to keep winning and clearly that is the case with the Angels. Houston dropped 2 of 4 to the Texas Rangers before this series meaning that they’ve now lost 4 of 6 and that form won’t help them hold on to the divisional lead. The Astros have had little trouble with the Angels at Anaheim over the past few years and even dropping three straight hold a 15-7 (+6.9 unit) edge over the past three seasons. That disparity also suggests that the ‘bet against the sweep’ concept won’t be in play here.
Houston has been a small money loser overall this season (-0.2 units) but find themselves in a situation where they’ve incurred more significant losses. They’ve lost -8.8 units on the road and pending the outcome of last night’s contest are barely over .500 away from home (24-23). They’ve also lost a ton of money against right handers in all situations–their record is 37-30 but that equates to a -11.6 unit loss on the year.
Much of our position here is a play against the Astros as it is a play *on* the Angels but they’re in a few positive ev situations here. They’ve scrapped out a +3.1 unit profit so far this season and are +4.4 units at home. They have struggled against left handed starters (14-19 -7.5 units) but have made money in night games (37-30 +6.2 units) and we can’t argue with their recent form since the first of the month (8-3 +6.5 units). Note that this game is currently ‘off the board’ with Wednesday’s game still pending and the Angels’ Mike Trout listed as ‘questionable’. When it does go up, however, the Halos are the play.