Starting Nine (Week of August 14th)

Just about a month and a half left in the regular season and teams are starting to fall out of our starting nine and right out of the playoff picture. With September just a few weeks away, which teams can make a final push toward a playoff spot?

Starting Nine (Week of August 14th)

#9. Philadelphia Phillies 65-54 (+750/+1500) - The Phillies have to feel good about the late acquisition of Michael Lorenzen following his no-hitter this past week. Lorenzen, Walker, and Sanchez give the Phils legitimate playoff options in the starting rotation behind Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. Last Week’s Rank: 8th

#8. Milwaukee Brewers 65-54 (+1100/+2500) - The Brewers are back in the Starting Nine and look like they have a chance to pull away from the Reds and Cubs with their rotation getting healthier. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#7. Toronto 66-54 (+1000/+1800) - The Blue Jays are still struggling with consistency but, when they are right, few teams have their overall talent. Last Week’s Rank: 7th

#6. Tampa Bay Rays 71-49 (+400/+850) - The recent off-the-field issues of Wander Franco coupled with the team’s injured rotation could be crippling for this team. Last Week’s Rank: 4th

#5. Houston Astros 68-51 (+400/+800) - The return of Verlander gives the Astros as good a playoff rotation as there is in the American League. If Altuve can find his playoff form, they’ll be tough to dethrone this year. Last Week’s Rank: 6th

#4. Texas Rangers 66-46 (+425/+900) - Scherzer and Montgomery have certainly given the starting rotation a lift. The health of Corey Seager will be paramount the rest of the way. His presence in the lineup is critical. Last Week’s Rank: 4th

#3. Los Angeles Dodgers 71-46 (+200/+400) - The Dodgers have won eight straight games heading into this week. Clayton Kershaw was solid in his return and the Lance Lynn acquisition has been a rousing success thus far. Last Week’s Rank: 5th

#2. Baltimore Orioles 73-45 (+400/+1000) - The Orioles took two of three over Seattle this weekend after avoiding being swept for the first time this season with a win over Houston in the series finale previously. The Orioles' high bullpen usage is a bit of a concern as the season gets late. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#1. Atlanta Braves 75-42 (+165/+330) - The Braves took the loss on Sunday night to the Mets but have an 11-game cushion in the NL East and a four-game cushion over the Dodgers for the best record in the National League. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

AL/NL MVP Candidates:

With each week, it becomes more and more obvious that Ohtani has wrapped up this award and everyone else is fighting for second.

Top-three AL MVP Candidates

#1. Shohei Ohtani (-20,000) - At this point, even if his season ended today, it is doubtful that Ohtani could lose this award. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Kyle Tucker (+6,500) - Tucker’s dramatic grand slam in Baltimore this week would have qualified as a signature moment in an MVP season in any other year. Alas, Ohtani’s presence overshadows it all. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Corey Seager (+7500) - Seager is surely the MVP of the Rangers and is their most indispensable player. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

Top-three NL MVP Candidates

#1. Ronald Acuna Jr. (-650) - Acuna’s odds rose this week, perhaps due to a brief injury scare when he was hit by a pitch on the elbow. He is still the clear-cut favorite in his historic power/speed season. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Freddie Freeman (+400) - The Dodgers are discovering what the Braves already knew, Freeman is as steady and reliable a superstar as there is in baseball. Even if he wins the battle title and leads the league in RBI, he will likely finish in second place to Acuna because of Acuna’s record-setting season on the bases. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Matt Olson (+1800) - If not for his teammate, Olson would deserve serious consideration for this award. Like Freeman, the unassuming Olson just steadily delivers on a weekly basis. The NL home run leader may get an MVP before his career is over, just not this season. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

Top-three AL Cy Young Candidates

#1. Gerrit Cole (-300) - Cole took the loss on Sunday but is still the most valuable pitcher to his team in baseball. He leads pitchers in WAR, quality starts, and innings pitched and is in the top ten in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Kevin Gausman (+400) - Gausman is second in quality starts, first in strikeouts and K/9, and is in the top ten in wins, ERA, and WHIP. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Felix Bautista (+10,000) - Bautista could emerge ahead of the rest of an inconsistent AL Cy Young field. He has 31 saves, an ERA of just 0.97, and his K/9 rate is an incredible 17.3 for an Orioles’ team that has the second-best record in baseball. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

Top-three NL Cy Young Candidates

#1. Blake Snell (+320) - The NL Cy Young field is wide open this season. Snell could pull away with a strong finish given his high rankings in several categories including WAR, ERA, and strikeouts. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Zac Gallen (+175) - Gallen could pull away with this award if he can finish the season strong on the road. He remains the best home pitcher in baseball but has been less consistent away from home. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#3. Logan Webb (+300) - Webb inches back into the top 3 thanks to Strider’s struggles. Webb, like Snell, is among the leaders in nearly every major pitching category with a month and a half left in the season. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

*All odds courtesy of

By Mark Ruelle

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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.