For the first few weeks of the season, the Houston Astros had a telltale World Series hangover.
The Astros were 17-18 in early May. They warmed up a bit after that but still lagged behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West. They were 6.5 games behind the Rangers on June 24.
Houston is playing better lately, and there's still plenty of time for them to win the division and make a deep playoff run. The Astros have won six of seven. They're just three games behind a very good Rangers team.
It was probably just a matter of time for the Astros. Kyle Tucker got red-hot at the plate. Jose Abreu finally snapped out of the long slump. Jose Altuve, who broke his thumb in the World Baseball Classic and didn't come off the injured list until mid-May, continues to look healthier. The pitching staff has been good, especially the bullpen. It just took a little bit for everything to come together.
Houston is +900 to win the World Series, tied for the fourth-best odds. But the Astros aren't favored to win the AL West. The Rangers are -115, with the Astros not far behind at +115. If you want to get in on some Astros futures, don't wait much longer. They're starting to look like contenders again.
Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Wednesday:
The rest of the MLB schedule
One of the highlights of Wednesday's schedule in MLB is the Philadelphia Phillies at the Tampa Bay Rays. It wouldn't have been a great matchup a couple of months ago, when the Phillies were ice cold and nobody could beat the Rays, but the Phillies have started to turn around their season. Led by another strong start from Aaron Nola, the Phillies beat the Rays on Tuesday. They've won six of eight and have dug out of a hole they created early in the season. Philadelphia is 45-39, which isn't bad considering they were 32-34 after a loss June 12. The Phillies are +110 underdogs on Wednesday.
Later in the evening, the New York Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks face off. The Mets are playing a little better lately, with a three-game winning streak, and the under-appreciated Diamondbacks continue to lead the NL West. The Mets and Diamondbacks are both -110 for Wednesday's game.
Four WNBA games
There are four WNBA games Wednesday but no great matchups. The highlight might be seeing if the 15-1 Las Vegas Aces can continue to dominate. They are big 14.5-point favorites over the Dallas Wings, who are a respectable 8-8 this season.
What's the best bet?
Tuesday's best bet on the Cincinnati Reds worked out, so why not go right back to them? They're -125 favorites over the Washington Nationals. Reds starter Graham Ashcraft has had a rough season but is coming off his best start this year. The Reds are better than the Nats and not too big of favorites on Wednesday.