MLB Playoffs: How Bookmakers See an Impossibly Tight AL West Race Playing Out

Michael Savio pic
By:
Michael Savio
08/31/2023
News

Highlights

  • BetMGM has the Astros as the favorite to win the AL West at +105
  • Max Scherzer has a 2.64 ERA since joining the Rangers
  • Seattle is 19-5 since the trade deadline

The end of the MLB betting season is rapidly approaching, and the AL West is still up for grabs. The Astros, Rangers, and Mariners are all within a game of each other in the standings as they attempt to lock in a top playoff spot. Bookmakers have scrambled to update odds over the last week, showing how they believe this race will play out.

Below, we will break down the three remaining teams and share their odds from BetMGM Sportsbook.

Houston Astros +105 at BetMGM Sportsbook

The Astros entered the 2023 season as the favorite to win the AL West, but a slew of injuries caused them to struggle in the first half. The team now has two key bats back in the lineup in Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez, and they’ll soon have 5x All-Star Michael Brantley back as well. It has significantly boosted offensive production, allowing Houston to focus on their pitching woes.

While many expected this offense to turn things around, the pitching has been a more significant concern. Houston lost two key arms in Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr., who both suffered season-ending injuries. The team added Justin Verlander at the deadline and have rookie JP France pitching at a very high level, which helps make up for those losses.

The biggest question remaining in Houston is how ace Framber Valdez will close the season. He started the year looking like a Cy Young candidate, but things have come apart in the last two months. Since July 1, Valdez has posted a 5.12 ERA and is suddenly struggling to keep runners off the basepaths. Houston is great, but they will need Valdez to beat their rivals.

Texas Rangers +200 at BetMGM Sportsbook

The Rangers have led the AL West for almost the entire season, but a recent slump and an eight-game losing streak allowed the Mariners and Astros to catch up. The good news is that they have stopped the losing streak and are coming off their first series win since August 15. The pitching has helped turn things around, but the offense still isn’t quite right.

During the team’s eight-game losing streak, they averaged just three runs per game. It was a massive drop-off for a team with the second-highest batting average, and third-most runs in the league. The talent is there, so it seems to be a matter of time before they can turn things around. The sooner that happens, the better their chances to win the AL West.

The biggest surprise for Texas this season has been their pitching, which has far outperformed expectations. Though they lost Jacob deGrom very early in the year, the rest of these rotation has stepped up. They got a big boost when the team added Max Scherzer at the trade deadline, who has a 2.64 ERA over five starts for Texas. The team will also return de-facto ace Nathan Eovaldi, making the Rangers hard to beat.

Seattle Mariners +240 at BetMGM Sportsbook

The Mariners were arguably one of the most disappointing teams through the season's first four months. The team was expected to replicate their fantastic 2022 campaign, but their offense has been atrocious. After failing to sell off too many assists at the trade deadline, this team shocked the league by going 19-5 since. Now, the question is whether they can keep this level of play up for the league’s final month.

While an offensive surge has helped the Mariners catch up to their rivals, their pitching staff has been their savior all season. Four of their five starters own ERAs under 4.00, with the fifth being rookie Bryan Woo, who has a respectable 4.15 ERA. No other team can match that, giving Seattle a significant advantage against Houston and Texas.

The question now is if this offense can stay hot. They have been led by Julio Rodriguez, who finally looks like the superstar we expected him to be. He’s been on fire, but he can’t keep that pace up forever. When he cools down, it will be on the rest of this offense to step up. That hasn’t happened much this year, which is why bookmakers see them being behind Houston and Texas.

Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid. As an adult, Michael started picking games for a small sports betting site and has built it into a career. His experience allows him to provide tips and information to help other bettors improve their game. Michael cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams, the Arizona State Sun Devils (his alma mater), and the Ottawa Senators. He specializes in baseball betting but has extensive experience in football, basketball, and hockey. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children or hiking and enjoying the outdoors.