There are 12 days left in the MLB season, and the AL West is completely undecided.
What makes that race a little unusual is that it's not just two teams within a half-game of each other. It's three.
The Astros are in the best position due to a strange scheduling quirk we'll get to. On Wednesday, all the three teams can do is win the games in front of them.
The Astros are -115 favorites at BetMGM against a Baltimore Orioles team that has won four in a row and is getting closer to taking the AL East title. The Rangers are -135 favorites over the Boston Red Sox. The Mariners are -250 favorites against the Oakland Athletics. It's a big day for the Mariners and Rangers in particular because they need to gain ground on the Astros.
In a weird bit of scheduling, the Mariners and Rangers have seven of their 11 remaining games against each other. Once the Mariners are finished with Oakland on Wednesday, all 10 of their remaining games will be against the Rangers or Astros. The Astros are probably anticipating the Rangers and Mariners trading wins while they're getting over on the Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks, their other remaining opponents. It's a good spot for Houston to be in.
It has been a great race. All three teams have run differentials better than +100. And this is not a situation in which the second- and third-place teams in the AL West are guaranteed playoff spots; the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays currently hold the first and second AL wild-card spots, while the Mariners and Rangers are third and fourth.
Simply put, the Rangers and Mariners need to win Wednesday. And another Orioles win over the Astros would be ideal.
Here is the first look at the sports betting slate for Wednesday:
A few other big MLB games
There's a full schedule in baseball on Wednesday, but plenty of the games are between teams playing out the string. That can make it tough to bet.
Four of the six divisional races have a first-place team up by at least six games. The Orioles lead the Rays by 2.5 games in the AL East, and perhaps that race becomes tense in the final week. But mostly we're looking at the AL West and wild-card spots.
The NL wild-card race is a good one. The Philadelphia Phillies have the top spot and a three-game edge, and then the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Miami Marlins, Cincinnati Reds and perhaps the San Francisco Giants (who are three games out) are all alive for the final two spots.
At least if you're betting on any of those teams, motivation isn't a big factor. The best game among those teams is the Phillies at the Atlanta Braves. The Phillies are +125 with Aaron Nola on the mound against the Braves, who clinched the NL East and are on their way to clinching the NL's top seed.
What's the best bet?
I'm going to take the Phillies and wonder if they're worth a future bet like +700 to win the National League. They've been hitting well since the start of August, and if Nola and Zack Wheeler can get hot, they are two top-end starters. For now, I'll take the Phillies on Wednesday against a Braves team that has little to play for the next two weeks.