Last year saw the Oakland A's erase a 13 game deficit in June to steal the division from the Texas Rangers.Online betting sites profited nicely when the Rangers couldn't close the deal with a five-game lead with two weeks left in the season and they don't want that to happen once again.
The addition of a second wild card eases some tension for both teams, but with a one-game elimination format between the two wild cards – you don't want to be the team that has to face that scenario making the division title at top of mind.
Even though, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were the favorite heading into the season, once again, the race for the division will be between the A's and Rangers. The Seattle Mariners, Angels and the Houston Astros are all well below a .500 record and find themselves out of the chase.
As of August 28th, the Rangers hold a 2.5 game lead over the A's, but based on last year we know that doesn't put them at ease. The rest of the way, the Rangers will have to play 18 of their remaining 30 games on the road; while the A's have 16 of their remaining 30 at home at the O.co Coliseum.
Playing on the road won't be such a disadvantage for the Rangers as their home and away records are almost identical. What creates a schedule disadvantage for the Rangers is the fact that they have to play tougher opponents down the stretch, such as the Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals.On the other hand, the A's will still have to battle those same Rays, but get the luxury of playing the lowly Minnesota Twins twice and a four-game series against the Houston Astros, the worst team in the American League.
The underachieving Angels will end up playing a big part in the West division outcome, as they are the only team that still have to face both the Rangers and the A's twice.The Angels will want to prove something in their lost year, so it will be interesting to see how those games turn out.
What the teams, fans and betting services will look forward to the most are when the Rangers and A's meet. They still have to face-off in a home-and-home series' that will see each team play three games at each other's ballpark.
When breaking down both teams and trying to figure out who wins the division, it's tough to separate them. The Rangers names are more well-known with the likes of Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Yu Darvish, Joe Nathan and the newly acquired Alex Rios, but the A's have shown in the past years that they play better as a team.
The Rangers bats have been hitting well over the past two weeks led by Adrian Beltre hitting .375 with 2 home runs, 7 runs batted in and 11 walks. Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler and A.J. Pierzynski are all hitting over .300 during that same stretch.
For the A's, Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss have been on fire with Crisp batting .357 with 4 home runs and Moss batting 294 with also 4 home runs. The A's recently shored up their injury-plagued catcher position with bringing back Kurt Suzuki, but almost immediately after, lost outfielder Josh Reddick to injury.This will give struggling veterans Chris Young and Daric Barton more playing time and a chance to prove they can be helpful to the team. Over the
When analyzing the pitching staffs, the bullpens both possess great depth and are anchored by Nathan of the Rangers and Grant Balfour of the A's, who have been both standouts this year.
But when looking at the starting pitching staffs, the edge goes to the Rangers with the addition of veteran Matt Garza from the Chicago Cubs. Garza provides World Series experience with his time with the Rays and he joins a staff steered by Darvish along with Derek Holland, as well as newcomers Martin Perez and Travis Blackley.
Blackley is a place holder until Alexi Ogando comes back from the disabled list and once that happens, the Rangers will be at full strength.
The A's don't possess an ace on their staff, but they have a competent five-man rotation that includes Jarrod Parker, A.J.Griffin, Bartolo Colon, Dan Straily and the soon-to-be-returning from the disabled list, Brett Anderson. It's a competent group, but as a whole they don't have the same pedigree as the Rangers.
It all starts with starting pitching, but if we've learned anything over these past few seasons, the A's resiliency and coolness under pressure haven't let them down. The division race is too close to call at the moment, so it might simply come down to health and bench depth.Check out your local sportsbook, for the latest odds of who will win the American League West division. Regardless of who ends of winning, we know it's going to be a great battle that will no doubt be settled during the last week of the regular season.