It’s almost two months into the Major League Baseball season and futures boards at the major sportsbooks have seen several major changes.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are still the favorite to win the World Series. They began the season as the clear choice at +460 at DraftKings to grab their second title in three seasons. They now are at +425.
However, there are no guarantees when making futures wagers when dealing with such favorites. Sure, six years ago the Chicago Cubs were the top choice to win the title, and they did. But a year earlier it was the Washington Nationals as the pick, and they failed to even make the playoffs,
American League Odds Movement
Yankees Take Charge of AL East
In the East Division, on opening day it was Toronto at +850 (DraftKings) as the favorite from this league to win the WS, a tick ahead of the New York Yankees at +950 (DraftKings). However, with New York currently setting the pace in the division holding a five-game lead over Tampa Bay and 5.5 over Toronto, the Yanks’ number has dropped to +600 (FanDuel).
The Blue Jays sit at +1000 and the Rays a lofty +2500, both at FanDuel. Those teams are all currently in line to at least earn wild cards.
White Sox Odds Take Downturn
In the Central there’s been much more upheaval.
Only the Dodgers were a heavier favorite to win a division before the season than the defending Central Division champion Chicago White Sox at -190, according to DraftKings. They were also +1000 for the Series.
Now Chicago’s World Series odds have doubled to +2000 because of its 23-23 start to the season in which it has been outscored by 45 runs. That’s a stunning reversal of the White Sox’s 2021 season when they had a plus-160 differential.
They’ll soon benefit by the return of starting RHP Lance Lynn (knee surgery), who had a career year in 2021, but that might not be enough to try to catch Minnesota, whose Series odds were +6000 (DraftKings) to open and still are at a generous +4000.
Youthful Guardians are a Value Play
A big long shot to watch, at least over the next couple of weeks, are the Cleveland Guardians. Cleveland, the youngest team in the league, is only 20-24 and 6.5 games behind the Twins. However, the Guardians have an extremely favorable schedule their next 15 games, with series against four last-place teams (KC, Baltimore, Oakland and Colorado). Mixed in is a matchup vs. Texas, which also has a losing record. In addition, Cleveland has had only 17 homes games to date, four fewer than anyone else.
The Guardians are at +18000 for the World Series at DraftKings and could be worth a fun long-shot bet. But don’t wait too long to jump on the bandwagon.
Astros Pulling Away Early
In the West, the Houston Astros went off as the division favorite for the seventh straight season, and based on win expectancy, were expected to win the division by eight games over the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers. They’re already four games clear of second-place L.A., and the rest have losing marks.
Houston’s Series odds haven’t dropped off much since opening day, from +950 to +800 at FanDuel. It helps that RHP Justin Verlander has had a remarkable start to his season after Tommy John surgery, going 6-2 with a 2.03 ERA.
The Angels (+1700 DraftKings), tied for most homers in MLB, have a 2.5-game lead for the final wild-card berth, but just lost five straight at home to Texas (one) and Toronto (four) and now head to N.Y. for three games with the Yankees. Uh-oh!
National League Odds Movement
Mets Still Favored in NL East
In the East, the N.Y. Mets (+850 DraftKings) have by far the biggest lead of any division front-runner at 9.5 games, which is somewhat startling since they are in the same loop with the defending champion Atlanta Braves, who are second.
We’ve been here before, though. For the second straight year, a conveyor belt has dropped off Mets starting pitchers on the IL, most prominently with Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Tylor Megill. Last season, the Mets similarly were kingpins of the division most of the year, even with a five-game lead entering August, before thudding home 11.5 games behind Atlanta.
The Braves, at +1700 (FanDuel), would be most likely to catch them.
One would think that Philadelphia (+4000 DraftKings), with the fourth-highest payroll in the bigs, would be a threat, but the Phillies are 11.5 games out and there are internal rumblings the players just don’t bother to bring their “A” game to the park. That’s particularly bad on a team that has wretched infield and outfield defense. Oh, and a lousy bullpen.
Reds Are a Lottery Ticket
In the Central, Milwaukee (+1100 DraftKings), which won the division by five games last season, is four games clear of St. Louis (+3500 DraftKings). The Cardinals currently hold the second wild card spot.
The Brewers will be hard to catch with their solid pitching, resulting in the fourth-best ERA in the NL (3.28), behind only the Dodgers. But star slugger Christian Yelich is having yet another subpar year, hitting only .229.
St. Louis, which went on a 17-game win streak late last year, could be a big threat at those nice odds and are the league leaders in stolen bases. That’s got to help.
Before heading West, let’s dumpster dive for a moment and consider the Cincinnati Reds, who started the season 3-22 but have gone 13-9 since. Their odds at the Westgate are a stupendously large +500000 (5,000-1). Considering the Reds are only 10 games out in the wild-card race for the expanded playoffs, if Cincinnati was to win it all, a $100 Series bet would get you halfway to being a millionaire (before taxes of course).
Padres Could Be Good Value
In the West, the Dodgers entered play Tuesday night tied with the Yankees for the best record in baseball at 33-15. But staying on their heels are the San Diego Padres (+1700 FanDuel).
The Padres, with a deep, talented pitching staff, have a seven-game cushion in the wild-card chase and have been playing well without Fernando Tatis Jr., last year’s NL home run champ who’s been out all season after wrist surgery. So, just like with the Guardians above, if you’re going to put money down on San Diego, don’t wait for Tatis to return (probably in late June).
The Giants at +2500? They’re also worth a look provided they can stay in the wild-card hunt through the summer. It’s late in the season when their schedule gets relatively easy, with 13 straight games against Arizona and Colorado from Sept. 19 through Oct. 2.
As for Arizona (+70000 DraftKings), it has nice starting pitching, but in recent days just lost eight straight games to the Dodgers. That’s no way to be a threat.