The first half of the 2016 MLB season is always going to draw overreactions by media, and the biggest one so far is the Chicago Cubs at the break. Are the Cubs done? Are they in trouble? What has happened to their pitching? Everyone needs to just stop, right now... its like when the Warriors last season started off 24-0 and they lost to the Bucks. The Warriors came back to reality, and the same thing has happened to the Cubs. They started 25-6 this season which was a pace of 130-32 for the season or a .814 winning percentage! It just wasn't going to happen and even after they came back down to earth they are 53-35 with a 7 game lead on the Cards. If you want to take about question marks in starting pitching lets look at the Mets, because last time I looked the Cubs pitchers are not on the DL which still makes them the most feared starting staff in that Division or the NL.
Enough about the Cubs though, between Wilbon on PTI everyday and having to listen to postgame Joe Madden interviews its enough to make you root for their misery!
Lets look at some MLB teams that are primed for a huge 2nd half and would be great value to bet on to win the World Series.
Lets start with the AL:
New York Yankees 5.5 games back of Wild Card World Series Winner 50-1
The Yankees play 50+ games against their division in the 2nd half of the season and although they are 5.5 games back of the second wild card, both of those top wild cards are the Red Sox and Blue Jays. If the Yankees can start to take care of business within their division they will be climbing that ladder to a playoff sport rather quickly.
With a lot of talk surrounding Chapman being traded and/or Miller as well you have to wonder if that is actually the team "Selling", in my mind that is the team "Buying". Betances has about the same ERA and WHIP as Chapman and you could get 2 or more great players back for either of those guys. The right move here is to deal Chapman or Miller and keep one to be the Closer, making Betances your setup guy, while acquiring a everyday 1st baseman who can give you a higher batting average than .194.
Now we know what your thinking, that is all great but none of that works with the Yankees starting pitching at a 4.50+ ERA. We agree, the pitching has to get better, but every single starting pitcher on that staff is well above their career ERA's with only Tanaka and Sabathia under 4.00. There is only room to go up and thats why we think the Yankees have a great shot of ending up as a playoff team come October, which if that happens at 50-1 is a great value to take right now on the Bronx Bombers (well better known this year for all the bombs the pitching staff is giving up).
The NL is a different team but really the same story....well not entirely:
Pittsburgh Pirates 1.5 games back of Wild Card World Series Winner 40-1
If there is one thing that always happens in the NL Central Division that we can ALWAYS count on its 3 things:
The 1st two may or may not happen this year, however is almost a sure thing. The Dodgers, Mets and Marlins are atop the NL Wild Card leaderboard right now but the Cards and Pirates are only 1-1.5 games back and it will all come down to pitching in the 2nd half of the season to determine who the NL Wild Card teams are.
The Pirates starting rotation has been abysmal to say the least, with the exception of Cole everyone has a 5.00+ ERA. The only thing that has kept them this close is there patience at the plate. They are third in the MLB in On-Base Percentage and in the top ten of Batting Average.
Somewhat like our Yankees play the value bet of them winning the World Series plays on the fact that their starting pitching can right the ship. The best thing that the Pirates have going for them is that of the remaining 72 games only 33 of them are against teams above .500. We love the value of the play considering the teams ahead of them are having major injury problems. The pitching staffs of the Mets and Dodgers are sending them more into a pretender than a contender, the Marlins are the "Wild Card" in this scenario as they have a team that could make the playoffs this year, however with having to battle against the Mets and Nationals it may allow some teams to catch them rather quickly.
Like the Pirates!