MLB Starting Nine - 07/31

The Trade Deadline is 24 hours away and the MLB season turns to August. With moves already made and more to come, which teams have positioned themselves the best in this week’s MLB Starting Nine?

Starting Nine (Week of July 31st)

#9. Boston Red Sox 56-49 (+2500/+5500) - Boston’s odds dropped again this week despite closing with two losses in SF. The Red Sox have won the most games against teams with a winning record this season and will get back Story and Sale in very short order. If Boston can add a key piece or two, particularly pitching, by the end of the deadline, they could be a dangerous team down the stretch. Last Week’s Rank: 9th

#8. Cincinnati Reds 58-49 (+2000/+4000) - The Reds have made it known that they are in on available starting pitching, including Verlander. Over the weekend, the Reds took two of three from the Dodgers proving that they are not ready to go away that easily. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#7. Toronto 59-47 (+700/+1400) - The Blue Jays have fortified the team’s one glaring weakness, their bullpen. The addition of closer Jordan Hicks from the Cardinals gives the Jays as good a backend bullpen as any team in baseball. Last Week’s Rank: 8th

#6. Houston Astros 59-47 (+370/+800) - Altuve and Alvarez are back and the Astros trade for Graveman makes a good bullpen potentially great. They could use a starting pitcher and Verlander just seems too obvious. Last Week’s Rank: 6th

#5. Los Angeles Dodgers 59-45 (+240/+500) - The Dodgers made have made a couple of moves this past week. They added Hernandez and Rosario for bench help and then Lance Lynn as an additional starter and Joe Kelly for their pen. They still need to add a more formidable starter if they want to avoid last year’s quick playoff exit. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#4. Tampa Bay Rays 64-44 (+370/+800) - The Rays played well over the weekend, taking two of three from the Astros in Houston. Tyler Glasnow’s reemergence as a frontline pitcher is better than any trade the Rays could pull off. The team could still add some pitching at the deadline to help its cause. Last Week’s Rank: 5th

#3. Texas Rangers 60-46 (+500/+1000) - Forget the three-game losing streak. No team has done more to strengthen themselves at this point than the Rangers. Adding starting pitchers Max Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery gives this team a formidable staff to go with a dangerous offense. Last Week’s Rank: 4th

#2. Baltimore Orioles 64-41 (+550/+1300) - The Orioles took two of three from the Yankees over the weekend and now head to Toronto for another big AL East showdown. Orioles fans wait patiently for a move to be made. This team could use another starter. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#1. Atlanta Braves 67-36 (+160/+330) - The Braves played .500 this week but are still comfortably in front in the NL East. They are said to be in on several starting pitchers as they look to fortify their roster for a title run. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

AL/NL MVP Candidates:

With just two months left in the season, the MVP race takes shape and it is time to cut the field down to three legitimate candidates in each league.

Top-five AL MVP Candidates

#1. Shohei Ohtani (-20,000) - How’s this for a doubleheader performance: a complete game shutout in game one followed by two home runs in the second game in a doubleheader sweep over Detroit. This is the AL MVP. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Kyle Tucker (+6,500) - Tucker is a very very distant second to Ohtani but the return of Alvarez should only strengthen his offensive numbers in what will likely be his best season ever.. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Corey Seager (+7500) - Seager’s latest injury puts even more distance between him and Ohtani at the top. Still, Seager is putting together his best overall season in the big leagues for a first-place team. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

Top-five NL MVP Candidates

#1. Ronald Acuna Jr. (-600) - Only the pure dominance from Ohtani in the AL could overshadow what has become a historic season for Acuna. He got his 50th steal this week and is still in line to end up as the first ever 40-60 player in MLB history. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Freddie Freeman (+700) - Freeman remains as steady as ever for the inconsistent Dodgers. He is likely battling teammate Betts for the second spot in the MVP voting. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Mookie Betts (+1500) - Betts, like Freeman, is trailing Acuna by a rather wide margin in the hunt for the MVP. He is having his best power season yet and remains the best defensive outfielder in baseball. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

Top-three AL Cy Young Candidates

#1. Gerrit Cole (+110) - Cole is tops in WAR, leads in innings pitched, and is top three in strikeouts. He has been the definition of an ace for the inconsistent Yankees. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Kevin Gausman (+400) - Gausman certainly has the resume; tied for the lead in quality starts, tops in strikeouts, and tops in K/9. A late hot streak could put him over the top. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#3. Shane McClanahan (+450) - Framber Valdez’s cold stretch vaults McClanahan back into the top three. The Rays will need him to pitch like a Cy Young down the stretch. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

Top-three NL Cy Young Candidates

#1. Blake Snell (+270) - Snell turned in another stellar performance this weekend to strengthen his candidacy. He’s in the top five in several categories including quality starts, strikeouts, WAR and innings. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Spencer Strider (+300) - Strider got another no-decision in a solid outing at Boston this week, striking out ten batters yet again. He is tops in K’s, K/9 and is top ten in innings, wins, and WAR. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#3. Logan Webb (+850) - Webb leads the league in innings and quality starts while in the top ten in strikeouts, WAR, and WHIP. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

*All odds courtesy of

By Mark Ruelle

Author Profile
Mark Ruelle

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.