The AL West race is one of the most compelling MLB storylines

The race to win the American League West is one of the most compelling storylines in baseball.

The Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers are all within one game of each other in the standings and the Mariners in particular have been on fire lately. The Mariners have won 12 of their last 13 games to jump to first place in the division.

The Mariners swept the Astros last weekend in Houston, took two of three from the White Sox in Chicago and then started their home stand with four more wins — a sweep of the Kansas City Royals and a 7-0 win over the Oakland A’s on Monday night. The Mariners are massive -300 favorites over the A’s on Tuesday night at BetMGM.

The Astros have had a bit of a bumpy August, but their bats have come alive in the past few days. They beat the Detroit Tigers, 17-4, on Sunday before blasting the Boston Red Sox, 13-5, on Monday night. Their three-game series in Boston continues Tuesday, and the Astros are +105 underdogs at Fenway Park.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have been reeling. They snapped an eight-game losing streak in Minnesota over the weekend and then posted a 4-3 win over the New York Mets on Monday night. The Rangers are -130 favorites at Citi Field on Tuesday night.

Despite that losing streak, the Rangers 74-57 on the year. The Astros are 75-58 and the Mariners are 75-56.

It’s a heated race that could come down to the wire. As of Tuesday morning, the Astros, the defending World Series champions, are the betting favorites to emerge as division champions at BetMGM. The Astros are listed at +150, just ahead of the Mariners at +165. The Rangers are within striking distance at +210.

Seattle Mariners' Julio Rodriguez hits a two-run home run to score J.P. Crawford against the Oakland Athletics during the fourth inning of a baseball game Monday, Aug. 28, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Seattle Mariners’ Julio Rodriguez hits a two-run home run to score J.P. Crawford against the Oakland Athletics during the fourth inning of a baseball game Monday, Aug. 28, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

What else is going on in MLB?

The National League wild card race is going to come down to the wire. While the Philadelphia Phillies have surged ahead of the pack, there are five other teams within three games of one another in the standings.

Two of those teams are in action on Tuesday night as the San Francisco Giants host the Cincinnati Reds. The Giants took the first game of the series 4-1 on Monday night and are -165 favorites at BetMGM for Tuesday night’s matchup.

Elsewhere, the Milwaukee Brewers have won nine consecutive games to build a five-game lead over the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. The Brewers beat the Cubs, 6-2, at Wrigley Field on Monday night, but the Cubs are -135 favorites for Tuesday night. The Cubs are currently a half-game up for the second NL wild card spot.

Another team in the wild card race is the Miami Marlins, who are 2.5 games back of the final playoff spot. The Marlins are -120 favorites at home vs. the Tampa Bay Rays, who lead the AL wild card standings and are just 2.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.

Elsewhere, the Phillies have won four straight and are -165 favorites at home vs. the Los Angeles Angels while the Minnesota Twins will try to continue distancing themselves from the Cleveland Guardians in the AL Central. The Twins, currently seven games up in the division, are -160 home favorites.

College football lookahead

We got our first taste of college football action on Saturday, but things get real on Thursday night with Week 1. There are two very intriguing matchups on the board with Utah hosting Florida and Minnesota hosting Nebraska.

Utah is currently a 6.5-point favorite over Florida. The line has moved quite a bit with the status of Utah QB Cam Rising unclear. Rising suffered a torn ACL in last year’s Rose Bowl and his availability has caused a lot of action on the betting market. The Utes were double-digit favorites at one point in the offseason. Last week, the spread dipped as low as Utah -4.5 but now it’s back up just below a touchdown.

Nebraska, in its first game under new head coach Matt Rhule, is a seven-point underdog at Minnesota. Rhule executed turnarounds at Temple and Baylor but had a disastrous stint in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers. Can he start off his tenure with the Huskers with an upset win?

What’s the best bet?

I’ll take the Rays at +100 over the Marlins.

I know Sandy Alcantara is on the mound for Miami, but he’s allowed at least three earned runs in three of his last four starts while giving up seven home runs during that span. The Rays have won six of their last seven and I was surprised to see them available at plus money.