MLB Update - NFL Camps Open

What is the crazier won / loss stat following 100 (give-or-take) games played so far ... the fact that the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are each 30-or-more games above .500 or the fact that the Baltimore Orioles (31-67) and the Detroit Tigers (30-65) are each 35-games-or-more below the break-even mark? Yikes!

Or, perhaps the fact that National League West rivals Arizona and San Francisco each enter this new week of baseball with identical 50-50 records? Betcha did not know that last year there wasn't a single Major-League Baseball team that finished at 81-81 ... go ahead and look it up!

Okay, so that being said and written, it's onto this late-in-July week and there's a batch of high-quality and important series going on from coast-to-coast and so let's jump right in and examine 'em ...

In the National League, it's ...
CHICAGO (54-45) at SAN FRANCISCO (50-50) - Mon, Tues & Wed
You may not have noticed but the NL Central-leading Cubbies have won seven of their nine games coming out of the post-All-Star Game break but this road swing through San Fran, Milwaukee and St. Louis will be a major test of epic proportions for a team that's only 18-27 on the road this year. And check it out: The Giants are hot stuff lately too having just won three - count 'em - extra innings games in a four-game weekend set against the New York Mets and LHP Madison Bumgarner is less and less likely to be dealt now that Bruce Bochy's crew is right smack in the middle of the NL's Wild Card race.
Series Price: Cubs - 125 / Giants + 105

In the American League ...
BOSTON (54-46) at TAMPA BAY (57-45) - Mon, Tues & Wed
Everyone knows that these clubs don't care for one another - hey, it dates back the better part of the past two decades when All-of-Fame RHP Pedro Martinez pitched for the Bosox - but there's really plenty to fight for now that the Rays have come back in the pack in the AL's Wild Card race. Tampa Bay comes off losing a weekend set to the fading Chicago White Sox after TB lost three-of-four at Yankee Stadium while Boston was feast-or-famine in Baltimore this past weekend - winning 17-6 on Saturday and losing the other two games while being outscored 16-2. Maybe MLB's best offense - see 5,66 runs per game - bounces back here with 3B Rafy Devers sporting a 7-HR, 14-RBI month of July thus far.
Series Price: Red Sox - 130 / Rays + 110

NEW YORK YANKEES (64-34) at MINNESOTA (60-38) - Mon, Tues & Wed
The search continues for a starting pitcher for the Yankees - though it sure seems the list of possibilities these days is dwindling - and now Aaron Boone's crew heads into the Twin Cities with bullpen guys Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton and mates surely needing to get some key late-=game outs against a Minny team that ranks fourth in the bigs in runs scored (549) and first in the majors in homers (182). You'll note from the "Series Price" that the Bombers are not exactly a big road favorite here despite complete and utter ownership against the Twins in recent years.
Series Price: Yankees - 120 / Twins Even

OAKLAND (57-43) at HOUSTON (64-37) - Mon, Tues & Wed
Three cheers for the swingin' A's who are 21-7 since June 17th and currently sitting in that second spot for the AL Wild Card Game (the A's would play in Cleveland in that Russian Roulette game if played today). Even a bump down in the order to sixth for slugger Khris Davis (two-run single in last Saturday's 5-4 win in Minnesota) didn't faze this group but they are overwhelming underdogs in H-town this week (see price below) and note the 'Stros are merrily rolling along these days with five consecutive wins and take note Houston's allowed only 11 runs during this five-game run.
Series Price: A's + 245 / Astros - 305

 

 

NFL CAMP OPENINGS

Listen up ... By week's end all 32 of the NFL camps will be "open for business" and we'll be tracking stuff all summer long but let's get started here with three locales that figure to be heavy on news / drama:

Team: Cleveland Browns
Site: Berea, Ohio
Okay, so the Browns are everyone's little darlings to get to the Super Bowl this year but has it dawned on anyone that first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens will have his hands full keeping everyone on this high-powered offense happy? The offseason acquisition of mouthy wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. could backfire in a big way if opinionated second-year QB Baker Mayfield doesn't get 'em the ball enough (and yes, it'll start right away in team scrimmages, you'll see) plus there's some major concern regarding the Browns' offensive line that is surely not as good or athletic as was the case last year when Cleveland went 7-8-1 SU (straight-up) and 10-6 ATS (against the spread).

Team: Green Bay Packers
Site: DePere, Wisconsin
Here's another case of an untried head coach in Matt LaFleur looking to keep everyone "happy" and that may be difficult considering veteran QB Aaron Rodgers wants to throw the ball 50 times a game while the new coach is saying the run game will be emphasized more than it's been in years ... what did we say about "drama"? The Packers - who were 6-9-1 SU and 6-9-1 ATS last year while missing the post-season for a second consecutive season - better emphasis divisional games after going a shoddy 1-4-1 SU and 1-5 ATS against NFC North teams a year ago.

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Site: Latrobe, Pennsylvania
Gone are "drama queens" WR Antonio Brown and RB Le'Veon Bell - but will this indeed be a case of "addition by subtraction" or will a Steelers' squad that last year finished 9-6-1 SU and 8-7-1 ATS - fall further back in the AFC pack after last year missing the playoff for the first time since 2013? Head coach Mike Tomlin must show that he can run a tight camp and have some "step-up-to-the-plate" players on offense besides wide-out JuJu Smith-Shuster.