The Philadelphia Phillies won't catch the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. They also know that isn't necessary.
Last season the Phillies were 22-29 when they fired manager Joe Girardi. Their season was going nowhere. Then they started playing better, got really hot and ended up making the World Series after being a wild-card team.
This season the Phillies were 25-32 at their lowest point in early June. And what happened next is familiar.
The Phillies have turned their season around. They won Tuesday for their fifth straight win. They've won seven of eight. Philadelphia has gone from one of the biggest disappointments in baseball to leading the NL wild-card race by five games.
The Phillies are -175 favorites at BetMGM against a Los Angeles Angels team that put many of its key players on waivers Tuesday and doesn't appear too interested in winning anymore this season. Bettors who didn't give up on the Phillies after their slow start have cashed a lot of tickets this summer.
The Phillies' biggest bats have come alive, turning around the team's season. Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner and Nick Castellanos have all been hitting the ball well in August. Schwarber has seven homers in the Phillies' last 11 games. The Phillies have 57 homers in August, tied for the third-most in the modern era in August according to MLB Network. They hit five on Tuesday.
With any postseason, it's often better to be the hottest team than the best team. What happened with the Phillies in the first two months doesn't matter too much anymore. They made a World Series after a bad start last season. Maybe we'll see that happen again.
Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Wednesday:
NL Central showdown continues
The Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs split the first two games of their series, including a 1-0 Cubs win on Tuesday, setting up a big matchup on Wednesday. If the Cubs win, they'll be down by three games to the Brewers going into September. With a Brewers win, the lead will be five games. The two teams won't play again until the final days of the season.
That makes Wednesday's game one of the biggest of the season for both teams. The Brewers are -115 favorites with Brandon Woodruff on the mound against the Cubs' Kyle Hendricks. It's a huge game in the division race.
Rest of the MLB slate
In the AL Central, the Minnesota Twins can extend their lead in the division to seven games with a win over the Cleveland Guardians. The Twins are -165 favorites.
There's a three-way tie for first place in the AL West. The Seattle Mariners are -300 favorites against the Oakland A's after a disappointing loss on Tuesday. The Texas Rangers are -150 favorites at the New York Mets and the Houston Astros are -140 favorites at the Boston Red Sox. It should be a great race the rest of the way.
What's the best bet?
Since Brandon Woodruff came off the injured list, he has been very good with a 3.57 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 22.2 innings. He is coming off a dominant 11-strikeout start against the San Diego Padres. Before Tuesday's loss, the Brewers had a nine-game winning streak. I'll go with Milwaukee as a small favorite on Wednesday.