Starting Nine (Week of August 7th)

August is in full swing and the baseball season is making the far turn. Some teams have folded while still others pushed all their chips toward the middle of the table. Let’s take a look at the latest Starting Nine.

Starting Nine (Week of August 7th)

#9. SF Giants 61-51 (+1200/+2800) - The Giants are not going away, that has become apparent. They are doing it with a deep roster of interchangeable parts. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#8. Philadelphia Phillies 61-51 (+750/+2500) - The Phillies have won six of ten games and are starting to look like the team that stormed through the playoffs in 2022. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#7. Toronto 63-50 (+800/+1700) - The Blue Jays looked like a team that could be dangerous in the postseason after sweeping away Boston this weekend. The Blue Jays' major weakness may have been their bullpen and Hicks’ arrival from the Cardinals could put this team over the top. Last Week’s Rank: 7th

#6. Houston Astros 64-49 (+425/+900) - The Astros have gone 6-4 in their last ten games. Their rotation looks playoff-ready now with Verlander back in the fold. Last Week’s Rank: 6th

#5. Los Angeles Dodgers 64-46 (+225/+475) - The Dodgers continued their season-long dominance of San Diego on Sunday night with an easy win. Lance Lynn picked up his second win in a Dodgers uniform. Last Week’s Rank: 5th

#4. Texas Rangers 66-46 (+450/+900) - The Rangers have now won six in a row and both of their new starters, Max Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery, picked up wins in their first appearance with Texas. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#3. Tampa Bay Rays 68-46 (+400/+850) - The Rays played very good baseball this week to surge back into the 3rd spot. It didn’t come without a price, however. Tyler Glasnow, the team’s best starter in July, was scratched on Sunday with a back issue. Last Week’s Rank: 4th

#2. Baltimore Orioles 64-41 (+425/+1100) - The oddsmakers are still not fully invested in this Orioles team that is the league’s only other 70-game winner to this point. Jack Flaherty’s opening start certainly has to have Orioles fans feeling pretty good. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#1. Atlanta Braves 70-39 (+155/+330) - The healthy return of Max Fried this week certainly boosted the Braves’ playoff odds. Health and consistency down the stretch will be the remaining goals for Atlanta. 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) - Ohtani has basically lapped the field at this point and you can almost print his name on the award. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Kyle Tucker (+6,500) - Tucker is a very, very distant second but has put together his best year as a big leaguer. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Corey Seager (+7500) - Seager returned from injury this week and his bat continues to thrive. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

Top-five NL MVP Candidates

#1. Ronald Acuna Jr. (-1600) - Acuna’s historic season of power and speed make him nearly as big an MVP favorite as Ohtani. Only an unforeseen injury keeps him from the award at this point. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Freddie Freeman (+800) - Freeman’s steady play at first base and his sizzling bat have put him as the solid second choice for the NL MVP. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Mookie Betts (+4500) - Betts odds to a big bump this week as it has become clear that Freeman is the top candidate from LA. Meanwhile, Betts clings to the third spot as Atlanta’s Matt Olson continues his power year. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

Top-three AL Cy Young Candidates

#1. Gerrit Cole (-200) - Cole is beginning to separate himself from the field in the AL as he has the look of a true ace this season. He is near the top of most major categories in the AL and a solid August could push him over the top. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Framber Valdez (+450) - Valdez’s no-hitter this week vaults him back in the discussion for the AL Cy Young award. He stumbled a bit as he battled an ankle injury but appears to be back in top form and will certainly be in the spotlight down the stretch as the Astros try to earn another division title. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#3. Kevin Gausman (+600) - Gausman anchors a Blue Jays’ staff that now has added bullpen depth and a lineup that is clicking. Be wary of a late push from Gausman for the award. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

Top-three NL Cy Young Candidates

#1. Blake Snell (+400) - Snell has faced two of baseball’s best teams in his last two starts, both Padres’ wins. He ground out five innings in each start, first against the Rangers and then against the Dodgers. He continues to pace NL pitchers in WAR. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Spencer Strider (+220) - Strider’s record-setting strikeout season continues and he may feel less pressure now with the return of Fried. He has a decent shot at 20 wins and will be top 5 in several key categories. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Zac Gallen (+300) - Gallen is back in our top three after showing signs of life pitching on the road this week. Gallen’s road struggles are the only thing keeping him from being a heavy favorite for this award. 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.