MLB Trade Deadline Deals Make These Teams Great Bets to Back
Zack Greinke pitched five solid innings for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday afternoon, allowing two runs on two hits to the New York Yankees and striking out seven before a bullpen meltdown cost the 35-year-old righthander what would have been his 11th win of the season.
Astros Shoot For The Stars
When Greinke does collect that victory, and two wins after that, the 200th of his career, it will be as a member of the Houston Astros, who landed Greinke amid a flurry of trade deadline moves. It also means that Greinke’s last start for Arizona was a possible playoff preview, as the Yankees and Astros meeting up for a 2017 ALCS rematch appears likely.
To dbacks for Greinke: Corbin Martin, jb buskauskas, 2 other recent high picks of theirs in system— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 31, 2019
The addition of Greinke, along with pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini from the Toronto Blue Jays, and catcher Martin Maldonado from the Cubs, sent the Astros’ futures lines tumbling, from +375 to +290 to win the World Series, and from +180 to +135 to win the American League pennant.
The Los Angeles Dodgers remain a slight favorite to win the Fall Classic at +275, but failed to address their need for a bullpen bridge to Kenley Jansen at the deadline. The Yankees, who needed starting pitching help and came up empty, now are a clear third choice at +375 after having been basically in a tri-favorite spot.
Beating the Astros in a best-of-seven series now means winning at least two games started by Greinke, Justin Verlander, or Gerrit Cole, and doing it against a team that now has a stronger bullpen.
how's everybody doing?— Houston Astros (@astros) July 31, 2019
That’s not impossible, of course, given the lineups that the Dodgers, Yankees, and Minnesota Twins have, but the Astros also can slug it out with anyone. It’s not like Houston wasn’t already imposing, but loading up at the trade deadline also increases the Astros’ chances of getting home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and Houston is 38-15 at home. The Dodgers have a home-road split of 40-15/29-25, while the Yankees are 38-18 in the Bronx and 29-21 everywhere else.
Who To Bet On?
It’s a tough call on whether the Astros are the better bet now because of their upgrades, or whether it’s the Yankees because their odds are long and the market may have forgotten both the earlier addition of Edwin Encarnacion and the pending returns of Luis Severino and Dellin Betances to pinstripes.
What should be clear is that it’s tough to justify betting on the Dodgers as a favorite right now, not only because the American League is going to send a powerhouse to the World Series and Los Angeles hasn’t prepared adequately, but because the National League also just got tougher.
The Chicago Cubs, after adding versatility with former Astros utility man Tony Kemp in the Maldonado deal, and lineup depth with former Detroit Tigers outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, now are +125 favorites in the National League Central, edging ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals, who were quiet at the deadline and sit at +180.
The #Cubs today acquired OF Nick Castellanos and a cash consideration from the Tigers for minor league RHPs Paul Richan and Alex Lange.— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 31, 2019
To make room for Castellanos on the 40-man roster, RHP Oscar De La Cruz was designated for assignment. pic.twitter.com/aZpj3Ba8zH
The Cubs are +900 for the National League pennant, while the Cardinals are +1100,not to mention the Milwaukee Brewers at +300 and +1200. Given that the National League Central is a meat grinder this year, with those three legitimate contenders joined by a Reds team that just added Trevor Bauer and still has playoff hopes, and a Pirates team that’s been around .500 most of the year until slumping recently, and you can see why the Cardinals’ 57-49 record entering Wednesday was good for first place.
Who Won The NL East?
The National League East is rather similar, with the exception of the Miami Marlins being a dumpster fire. Atlanta leads, while Washington and Philadelphia are formidable playoff contenders and the New York Mets not only added Marcus Stroman but kept both Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler in their rotation at the deadline.
Told Noah Syndergaard was pulled off the trade market last night. He is staying with the #Mets— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 31, 2019
Crazy excited to join this @Mets starting rotation. They’re already extremely dangerous. Can’t wait to add to that!— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) July 31, 2019
Source: the Mets did not make any last-minute deadline deals. Noah Syndergaard stays. Zack Wheeler stays. Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz are here.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 31, 2019
The Mets will try to make a run at this thing.
With the patsies of the Senior Circuit almost entirely out west, no wonder the Dodgers are running up the score in the standings. They’re definitely the best team in the National League, but not by as much as it would appear, thanks to the unbalanced schedule. Does that mean jumping on Atlanta at +375 to win the pennant?
No, but Washington at +1200 looks like a lot better mid-range shot after the Nationals added Roenis Elias, Daniel Hudson, and Hunter Strickland to their bullpen. Max Scherzer’s health is going to have a lot to do with whether Washington gets to the playoffs, but him alongside Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin in a playoff rotation with this beefed-up bullpen and a balanced lineup with power throughout is easy to talk yourself into, almost an Astros Lite. You just have to believe that if the Nationals do get into the playoffs, they can get past that whole thing where they’ve never gotten past the NLDS.
About the Author
Jesse Spector writes about baseball for Bookies.com. A resident of New York, Jesse is a columnist for Dealbreaker and Rockies Magazine, the host of “Jesse Spector Is...” on Lightning Power Play Radio and a contributor to Guardian Sport. The former baseball and hockey writer for Sporting News and the New York Daily News has also contributed to FanRag, Newsday, Yahoo and elsewhere.