We finished the first half of the MLB season 27-14 on article plays. That’s a decent amount of earnings that one could hypothetically use in any number of productive ways. Or, and this is key, you could waste all that profit betting second half futures.
The DraftKings Sportsbook has an overload of MLB futures to choose from, including team odds to make the playoffs, individual award odds and, of course, odds to win the World Series. Here are three bets that catch my eye for the final three months of baseball.
As we sit at the All-Star break, the tightest divisional race in baseball is in the American League East. The Red Sox currently lead the Rays by 1.5 games, as both the Blue Jays and the Yankees sit 8.0 games back, each three games above .500. However, the standings look completely different when you start viewing them in a less traditional sense.
By expected winning percentage — a formula that heavily accounts for a team’s run differential — Boston’s .565 mark isn’t just trailing Tampa Bay (.606), it’s also squarely behind Toronto (.588). Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. MLB isn’t going to start seeding teams by the games they should have won, but it is an interesting glance into how the Red Sox might be slightly exceeding expectations.
Another area to consider is strength of schedule. By virtue of playing in the league’s most stacked division, no one in the AL East has things easy; yet, at the same time, Boston’s schedule appears to be pretty back-loaded. In fact, while the Red Sox played 13 of their 19 contests against the Orioles in the first half, the team will have 13 games against both the Rays and the Yankees coming out of the Midsummer Classic. Heck, 24 of Boston’s next 27 matchups are versus New York, Tampa Bay or Toronto. That’s a gauntlet and these odds could look very different in a month.
To Make the Playoffs
Building off a point I referred to above: The advanced numbers surrounding the Blue Jays paint the picture of a team that should be much better than its current record. Toronto comes into the break with the seventh-best expected winning percentage in baseball, primarily thanks to an offensive attack that leads the league in slugging percentage (.449) and sits second in wOBA (.335). Toronto is also supplied with better pitching than you’d expect, as their starters own a combined 3.92 xFIP — the third-best mark in the American League.
So, with all that talent, why are the Jays struggling to stay around .500? In a single word: Bullpen. Toronto has blown an almost unheard of amount of games where they took a lead late into the proceedings, resulting in a 6-10 record in one-run games. As a point of reference — and maybe another sign of immense luck — the Red Sox lead the AL with 17 wins by a single run. Thankfully, bullpen is an area that can be addressed relatively easily at the trade deadline, and the Jays have already struck deals for Adam Cimber and Trevor Richards. They’ll also be getting Ryan Borucki back on the 26-man roster on Friday. Help is on the way.
None of this assures Toronto will end up snagging the second Wild Card, but they certainly have the ability to go on a run in the second half. They already have a better expected win-loss record than the Yankees and the Athletics — two teams with shorter odds to make the playoffs — so with a little luck, this is a long shot bet that might just cash.
World Series Winner
With the Cardinals and the Cubs in a free-fall, FanGraphs is currently giving the Brewers an 80.8% chance of winning the NL Central and an 83.7% chance of making the playoffs. However, despite all that, the team has the fifth-worst odds to win it all of the six division leaders — the Giants (+2000) being rock bottom. Still, there might not be a non-Dodgers squad that I’d be more afraid to run into in a five or seven-game series.
Pitching and the ability to maximize your staff is the key to winning in the postseason and few rosters are as stocked with top-end talent as Milwaukee. Among the 81 starters who have thrown at least 80.0 innings so far this season, the Brewers employ three of the top six by expected ERA in Corbin Burnes (1.78), Freddy Peralta (2.52) and Brandon Woodruff (2.64). Those are three arms that could cover six of the seven games in an October series. Mid-relief also means less in the playoffs, a time when off-days are more prevalent and managers are more willing to push their high-leverage bullpen options. Well, Craig Counsell will have two of the best at his disposal in Josh Hader and Devin Williams.
It’s unclear whether the Brewers will get enough timely hitting, but we’ve seen teams ride four or five great pitchers through the playoffs in the recent past. It also helps that Milwaukee likely won’t have to see an NL West opponent until the NLCS, with the Mets currently the club’s projected Divisional Series matchup.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
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