There are only about 40 games left for each team in Major League Baseball in the 2016 regular season. The season is already over for doormats like the Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, Oakland A’s, Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks. Believe it or not, every other club still has a mathematical shot at the playoffs. Here are two teams on the rise to win the World Series and their current MLB futures odds.
Teams on Rise to Win the 2016 World Series
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 12, 2016
Los Angeles Dodgers (+1600 in MLB betting)
I think everyone thought the Dodgers were toast when ace and three-time Cy Young favorite Clayton Kershaw went down with a back injury. But the Dodgers are playing well without the best pitcher in baseball and right with the San Francisco Giants atop the NL West. When Kershaw got injured on June 26, the Dodgers were 41-36 and eight games behind San Francisco in the NL West.
I wouldn’t recommend betting on Dodgers futures unless Kershaw returns, but in any series he can be the difference despite some shaky playoff numbers in the past. Kershaw, dealing with a herniated disc, has recently started throwing again and the Dodgers think he can return in September. The plan calls for Kershaw to gradually increase his throwing distance from flat ground before he’s cleared to throw off a mound. Because there are no minor league games in September, Kershaw’s next game action will almost certainly come with the Dodgers. Kershaw was 11-2 with a 1.79 ERA in 16 starts prior to his injury. So why are the Dodgers winning without their ace? The bullpen, says manager Dave Roberts.
“The most important part of our team without a doubt is our eight-man bullpen,” Roberts said. “We’ve used them a lot collectively, but when you look it individually we don’t have anybody among the league leaders in games. What makes the eight-man bullpen work is that all of them are unselfish and willing and able to pitch whenever called upon. There are no egos.”
Teams are hitting just .197 off Dodgers relievers from innings 7-9 this season. The major-league record in that statistic is .204 by the 1968 Detroit Tigers. The Dodgers are 20th in innings from starting pitchers, but led by closer Kenley Jansen, they have the best bullpen in baseball when it comes to allowing base runners (1.063 WHIP) and being tough to hit (.204) overall.
Boston Red Sox (+1500 on MLB Odds)
The Red Sox have the best offense in baseball and badly want to get back to a World Series as a nice send-off gift to retiring David Ortiz, one of the most beloved Red Sox players ever and a future Hall of Famer. But does Boston have the pitching? Ortiz actually got a scare on Wednesday when he fouled a ball off his leg and had to leave the game. But X-rays were negative. Ortiz is in the midst of a historic offensive season for a player in his 40s. Ortiz, 40, leads the league with 36 doubles, 61 extra-base hits and a 1.012 OPS. He has 25 homers and is batting .307.
While Ortiz is fine, the Sox have an injury worry with the guy who has been their best pitcher, All-Star knuckleballer Steven Wright. He was supposed to start Thursday but was scratched and will miss at least one start after an MRI exam revealed inflammation in his right shoulder. Wright was injured Sunday night in Los Angeles when he pinch-ran for Ortiz and jammed his shoulder while diving back to second base on a fake pickoff attempt. Red Sox manager John Farrell said Wright is not yet a candidate to be placed on the 15-day disabled list. Wright has been among the Red Sox’s most consistent starters, posting a 13-5 record and 3.01 ERA.
If presumed ace David Price starts pitching like he usually does, the Red Sox are my AL favorites.