We made it through the MLB Trade Deadline after a blizzard of deals, and we can now fully engage ourselves in the symbolic “pennant race” portion of the baseball season.
A few of the best teams got better, a few of the hopeful teams were timid, one top team lost an ace pitcher to their bitter rival, and a couple of teams ran up the white flag to signal “rebuild time.”
Let’s look at how the trades made an impact on the World Series odds over at DraftKings:
I don’t have room to mention every single deal involving each contending team, but I will expand on a few of these below the table.
|TEAM||ODDS BEFORE||ODDS AFTER||DEADLINE MOVES|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+320||+275||Added Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, and Danny Duffy|
|Houston Astros||+600||+600||Added Kendall Graveman, Yimi Garcia and other bullpen arms|
|Chicago White Sox||+750||+650||Added closer Craig Kimbrel, and Cesar Hernandez|
|New York Mets||+850||+850||Added Javier Baez, Rich Hill|
|San Diego Padres||+900||+1000||Added Jake Marisnick, Adam Frazier, Daniel Hudson|
|Boston Red Sox||+1000||+1100||Added Kyle Schwarber|
|San Francisco Giants||+1400||+1200||Added Kris Bryant|
|Milwaukee Brewers||+1100||+1200||Added Eduardo Escobar and John Curtiss|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+1400||+1600||Added Nelson Cruz|
|New York Yankees||+1700||+1700||Added Anthony Rizzo, Joey Gallo|
|Oakland A's||+3000||+3000||Added Starling Marte, Yan Gomes, and Josh Harrison|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+3000||+3000||Added Brad Hand, Jose Berrios|
|Atlanta Braves||+4000||+5000||Added numerous mediocre relievers|
Los Angeles (+275) swooped in and snatched Mad Max Scherzer and his one Dodger Blue eye just as it seemed he would take his one Padre Brown eye to San Diego (+1000). It was an embarrassing defeat for San Diego, who has the fourth best record in the NL, but sits only four games up in the final wild-card spot.
Scherzer has legendary chops as one of baseball’s most ferocious competitors. Given the fragility of Clayton Kershaw and the apparent loss of the troubled Trevor Bauer, he’ll be the Dodger ace come postseason. His experience as a clutch performer in October will only make LA even more difficult to beat.
But the Giants (+1200) are not chumps. The surprise story of the baseball season remains in first place in the NL West and has the best record in MLB. They added infielder/outfielder/middle of the lineup force Kris Bryant in a deal with the Cubs, and with Buster Posey playing better than he has in years, the G-Men are not going to just roll over and give the Dodgers their ninth straight division crown. Consider this weird possibility: the Dodgers could be a wild card team, which means they would be forced to play a winner-take-all wild card game against (most likely) the Padres. If that happens, they’ll be very happy that Scherzer is on the hill for them instead of facing their lineup.
No, the Astros (still at +600 to win the World Series) didn’t make a big splash at the deadline, but their acquisitions greatly improved their bullpen depth. They expect to get Alex Bregman back (hopefully) down the stretch, and his big bat will be a huge addition to their already pesky lineup. Once again, baseball’s most hated team (or is it still the Yankees?) has a dangerous lineup with Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel all firing on all cylinders. The Astros are a great sleeper pick to take it all.
The Yankees (+1700) are not going to leapfrog the Red Sox and Rays, and they currently trail the A’s and Mariners (who surrendered at the deadline by trading their best relief pitcher) in the wild card race. But their addition of the Law Firm of Gallo & Rizzo makes their swing-for-the-seats lineup more scary. Still, DraftKings didn’t move their odds on the Yanks.
Your Special Baseball Moment Of The Week
Usually this is where I look back at something fun or poignant in baseball. Not this week, because starting Tuesday night, the Astros will be in Los Angeles to play a two-game series against the Dodgers. This will mark the first time in two years that the rivals have faced each other in front of fans. It’s also the first time with fans since the revelation nearly two years ago that the Astros had used a sign-stealing scheme during their 2017 season. That’s the year they defeated the Dodgers in an epic seven-game World Series to win the first championship in franchise history.
Since then, the Dodger and Astros have fired barbs at each other, as when LA reliever Joe Kelly made a pouting face to Carlos Correa after he struck the Houston shortstop out in a tense game last season. Dodger fans have been waiting a long time to let the Astros know how they feel about “cheaters.” This brief two-game series has several story lines, including the presence of Houston manager Dusty Baker, who was not at the helm in 2017, but who is from southern California, was a popular Dodger player, and is never shy at telling it like it is.
On Wednesday, Max Scherzer will make his Dodger debut against the Astros, which makes this clash between two former division rivals even more lip-smacking good. How intense is this? Los Angeles superstar Mookie Betts, who wasn’t even on the Dodgers in 2017, said he was “ready to go to war” against the Astros.
Baseball fans, passionate or casual, these games are just-see.