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Odds and Ends

Best Bets before the season starts

by Tim Murray
Updated On: July 26, 2020, 3:59 pm ET

The Major League Baseball 60-game season is set to begin on Thursday in Washington, DC. The reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals will play host to one of the World Series favorites in the New York Yankees. The Yankees are +400 to win the World Series only trailing the Dodgers (+350) for the shortest odds to win the World Series. 

The sprint feel to the 2020 season will be fascinating when it comes to gambling. Could a long shot to make the playoffs get off to a 13-2 start to the season like the Seattle Mariners last year? Seattle trailed off fast ending up 25-35 after 60 games.

The Nationals were just 27-33 at the 60-game mark last season before making a run to the World Series.

Two teams that have received a lot of buzz heading into the season are the Cincinnati Reds (+2500) and the Chicago White Sox (+2500). While those aren’t my favorite plays, I have seen a number of people write about each squad as a “value” play or long shot. 

Here are a couple plays that I have made before the season starts:

Tampa Bay Rays to win the World Series (+2000 at Bet MGM)

After posting a 96-win season in 2019, the Rays lost in five games to the Astros in the ALDS. If they remain healthy, the Rays have one of the top trios atop a rotation in baseball with Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, and Tyler Glasnow.

Tyler Glasnow was named American League Pitcher of Month in April last year before missing the majority of the season with forearm tightness. Blake Snell won the American League Cy Young in 2018 but had a couple trips to the IL in 2019 including arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow. 

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The Rays’ bullpen had the league’s lowest ERA in 2019. I think having a strong bullpen will be a major factor in 2020 as starting pitchers ease into the season.

Finally, with the possibility of players testing positive for COVID during the season, the Rays are a team built on depth. OF Austin Meadows tested positive for COVID with no return date yet but Tampa Bay has Hunter Renfroe, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Brandon Lowe, and Jose Martinez to fill-out the corner outfield positions while Meadows is sidelined.

The futures market for the Rays varies from shop to shop but at 20-1 at Bet MGM, I'll ride with the Rays to win the World Series.

Padres WILL make the playoffs (+320 at DraftKings & FanDuel)

Despite having Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer under big contracts, the Padres had a disappointing 70-92 season in 2019. San Diego overhauled its staff bringing in Jayce Tingler as its manager and hiring a new pitching and hitting coach. The Padres were also very active on the personnel front. San Diego added Tommy Pham and Trent Grisham this offseason to pair with Wil Myers in the outfield. Fernando Tatis Jr. will continue to grow into a potential superstar. Tatis Jr. entered 2019 as the second-best prospect according to Baseball America. The Padres continue to reap benefits from its rich farm system. San Diego had the top-rated Minor League system entering 2019 and is rated second in 2020 according to MLB.com.

The Padres traded for Zach Davies to help the rotation anchored by Chris Paddack. Closer Kirby Yates had a microscopic 1.19 ERA in 2019 and San Diego improved its bullpen by trading for Rays closer Emilio Pagan and signing Drew Pomeranz.

While I don’t expect the Padres to unseat the Dodgers in the NL East, San Diego has the talent to make a run for a Wild Card berth.

Orioles UNDER 21 wins (-110 at Westgate Superbook)

I grew up in Maryland and was a play-by-play broadcaster for four years within the Orioles Minor League system so this is a bit of a tough play for me to make. But, Baltimore started the past two seasons 19-41 and I don’t see much reason for improvement in 2020. Unfortunately, the Orioles will be without its best offensive player, Trey Mancini, this season. Mancini had surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his colon in March. The good news is Mancini is reportedly doing well in his recovery. 

The Orioles signed a pair of journeyman pitchers in Wade LeBlanc and Tommy Milone to add to a pitching staff that had a league-worst 5.59 ERA. Not a whole lot of excitement to speak of in the lineup or the mound.

Additionally, Baltimore's ace heading into the season, John Means, is trying to work through a dead-arm period. "We’re definitely going to take a conservative route with John," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. "Because he means so much to us, and his future, so we’re still weighing our options there. A little bit unclear if John’s able to make the start for opening day.”

Lastly, the schedule is rough. 40 games against the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, and Blue Jays is not easy. Additionally, Baltimore will play the Nationals six times, Braves four, Phillies four, and Mets four. The only games where the Orioles might be a favorite this season are four games against the Marlins. 

I would love to see the Orioles make an improvement this season but it’s hard to see it.

Tim Murray

Tim Murray is the co-host of The Daily Line. Follow him on Twitter @1TimMurray.