With the return of Aaron Judge to anchor the major leagues’ most powerful offense, there is a new buzz about the New York Yankees. Good luck finding a weakness in a lineup striped with bombers. Top to bottom, there are only strengths.
For two months, while Judge and Giancarlo Stanton were sidelined and the team’s injury list drew a standing-room-only crowd, the Yankees impressed in a much different way by winning with a makeshift cast.
The Bronx “B” team did more than tread water until a few A-list celebrities — Judge, Stanton and Didi Gregorius — resurfaced at different times in June.
“I’m shocked the Yankees are where they are with all the injuries they went through,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said. “That’s the ultimate plus. It shows the team has character, chemistry and depth. That’s a good sign.”
The Yankees enter Wednesday with the secondbest record (51-28) in the American League and a six-game lead over Tampa Bay in the East. Nearing the halfway point in the schedule, and despite their injury setbacks, the Yankees are on pace to top their regular-season win total of 96½ that was forecast by oddsmakers.
The recent addition of Edwin Encarnacion, who’s tied with Gary Sanchez for the AL home runs lead with 23, was the first big summer swing by general manager Brian Cashman, who’s not done shopping.
The future might be now for the Yankees, but they are not the World Series favorites and at least two other teams strike more fear into bookmakers.
The Westgate SuperBook lists the Los Angeles Dodgers as 3/1 favorites ahead of the Yankees (4/1) and Astros (9/2). Futures action on the Dodgers, who own baseball’s best record (55-26), has been strong in Nevada. Bogdanovich said his book faces scary liability on the Twins, who were posted at odds as high as 75/1. Minnesota (50- 27) has the AL’s top record.
“We’re in really good shape out here on the Yankees,” Bogdanovich said, “but (in New Jersey) we’re a loser with the Yankees.”
By the end of the summer, depending on injuries and trade-deadline deals, the Dodgers could gain more momentum with West Coast bettors than the Yankees. SuperBook manager Ed Salmons said his book is a “small loser” on Yankees futures liability as of now. The Yankees rank No. 1 in money wagered — and No. 2 in ticket count behind the Chicago Cubs — with the largest wager being $1,400 at 6/1 odds.
PointsBet, a popular option in the New Jersey online sports betting market, will offer some special Yankees player props later this week, including Stanton to get 25 home runs ( 140 to 150 range) and Judge to get 30 home runs ( 190 to 200 range).
Matthew Chaprales of PointsBet said the Yankees have been lowered to 7/2 to win the World Series because of heavy betting by area fans.
“Not surprisingly, the Yankees are by far our most popular team on the outright market, and accordingly our biggest liability,” Chaprales said. “A little over half of our total futures handle is on the Yankees, with average odds in the 600 to 700 range. It’s the combination of a powerhouse team and a heavily local market.”
Circa Sports, which opened June 1 at the Golden Gate in downtown Las Vegas, is the only book to offer two-sided World Series futures odds. The “Yes” price on the Yankees to win the title is 550 and the “No” price is -890 (bet $890 to win $100). There are zero “No” bets so far, mostly because of high risk.
“If you have to lay a big price and wait several months to cash it — if it does win — not a lot of people are enthusiastic about it,” Circa sportsbook manager Chris Bennett said.
“I still think the Astros are the better all-around team when you look at their No. 1 and 2 starters in the playoffs.”
Houston has been a banged-up team, too, with offensive stars Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer each missing more than 20 games. Justin Verlander, who beat the Yankees on Sunday to become the third 10-game winner in the AL, is the staff ace ahead of Gerrit Cole. Including the playoffs in 2017, Verlander is 4-0 in six starts against the Yankees since he joined the Astros.
Yankees ace Luis Severino has not pitched this season and his timetable for a return remains a mystery.
“Who can we say right now will be the Yankees’ top two starters in the playoffs?” Bennett said. “Is James Paxton that guy? Are they going to get Severino back? (Masahiro) Tanaka might be No. 1. I would rather have Verlander or Cole than Tanaka.”
This prop posted by Caesars last week eliminates some of the guessing from the futures game: Will the Astros, Yankees or Dodgers win the 2019 World Series? “Yes” is the -185 favorite.