Astros World Series Odds Unmoved By MLB Suspensions, Firings
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The Houston Astros still have a lineup that features Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, and George Springer. They still have a starting rotation fronted by Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. A team that made it to Game 7 of the World Series in 2019 has not made up for the departure of Gerrit Cole to the New York Yankees as a free agent, but the core of last year’s 107-win juggernaut remains in place.
So, it’s easy to see why, even after general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were suspended for 2020 on Monday as punishment for the Astros’ sign-stealing in 2017, and subsequently fired, Houston’s odds (+220 to win the American League, +600 to win the World Series at 888sport, for example) would remain steady.
Compare up-to-the-minute World Series odds here.
Why Didn’t the Astros Odds Get Worse?
Losing Luhnow may impact Houston’s ability to get upgrades at the trade deadline, where he’s done excellent work over the years, including the acquisition of Greinke last year, but how many upgrades do the Astros really need? And while Hinch has been in the top five in AL Manager of the Year voting in four of his five seasons as Houston’s skipper, the Astros can turn to bench coach Joe Espada, who previously has been seen as a potentially excellent manager in his own right.
The Astros won the American League West by 10 games last year, and they were 14 games ahead of Cleveland, the first team out of the playoffs. Houston’s path to October remains clear, and you can see where the players, who escaped punishment for their roles in the cheating scheme, might go into October with a chip on their shoulder, wanting to prove that they can win on their own merits. When it comes to betting on baseball this season, keep in mind that the road team won all seven games of the 2019 World Series. So, whatever shenanigans might have continued into last year did not affect the outcome of the Fall Classic.
Red Sox and Alex Cora Next?
Alex Cora is going to be in some serious trouble.... pic.twitter.com/5tdqUJuueJ— Tyler Kepner (@TylerKepner) January 13, 2020
The punishments for Houston are not the end of the story. Former Astros bench coach Alex Cora, now the manager of the Red Sox, is in hot water both for his role in Houston’s operation and for sign-stealing with the 2018 World Champion Boston team. If Cora is banned, the managerial reins in Boston likely would go to bench coach Ron Roenicke, who managed the Milwaukee Brewers from 2011-15.
In MLB futures markets, Boston remains the third choice for the American League pennant at +110, and a +2200 shot to win the World Series. Neither of those feel like particularly good bets to begin with, given uncertainty over Mookie Betts’ future there, a failure this winter to upgrade the pitching staff, and the Yankees’ improvement making the Red Sox most likely a wild-card team at best.
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Which Teams Might Benefit?
With the Yankees (+165/+330) already the pennant and World Series favorites, the play now for bettors may be to jump on the Twins (+1200/+2500), A’s (+1300/+2800) or White Sox (+1700/+3500), as those would be the teams that stand to benefit most from any upheaval in Houston and Boston.
The upheaval is taking place off the field, which is why odds aren’t changing for the Astros and Red Sox, but if there is fluctuation in the lines as fallout continues, it’s those second-tier contenders whose chances will get better and odds will shorten.