Major League Baseball is returning next week. Well, just not in the form everybody is waiting to see.
The league, in conjunction with Out of the Park Baseball, has unveiled the MLB Dream Bracket, presented by DraftKings.
The competition gets underway today with a 32-team, best-of-seven simulation contest.
So, what does this mean for New Jersey sports betting customers?
The DraftKings Sportsbook app has free-to-play pools based on the game simulations. The first one, which got underway earlier today, includes a $2,000 prize pool.
A separate one is scheduled for noon on Tuesday with winners splitting $500.
With Atlantic City casinos closed and most sporting events suspended, free games like MLB Dream Bracket keep bettors in the game.
The Phillies have a dream team
Each of the current 30 MLB franchises is represented in the bracket. The other two teams are made up of Negro League Stars and 25 & Under Stars.
The latter will open play against the Philadelphia Phillies all-time greats.
This means a Hall of Fame-caliber pitching staff with the likes of Robin Roberts, Steve Carlton and Roy Halladay.
Plus, Tug McGraw, the closer of the 1980 World Series team, is in the bullpen.
Here are the starters:
- C: Darren Daulton
- 1B: Ryan Howard
- 2B: Chase Utley
- 3B: Mike Schmidt
- SS: Jimmy Rollins
- LF: Chuck Klein
- CF: Richie Ashburn
- RF: Bobby Abreu
- DH: Dick Allen
Current catcher J.T. Realmuto is in the Miami Marlins lineup. Bryce Harper is the designated hitter for the Washington Nationals.
As far as the competition goes, here are the starters for the 25 & Under Stars:
- C: Will Smith
- 1B: Pete Alonso
- 2B: Ozzie Albies
- 3B: Rafael Devers
- SS: Carlos Correa
- LF: Juan Soto
- CF: Ronald Acuña Jr.
- RF: Cody Bellinger
- DH: Yordan Alvarez
In total, the competition includes 185 Hall of Famers, 115 MVPs and 61 Cy Young winners.
How to watch MLB Dream Bracket Pools
The simulated games are being played over the next two weeks. There are multiple contests taking place each day. Here is next week’s schedule:
- Monday, April 20: Eight round of 32 matchups
- Tuesday, April 21: Eight round of 32 matchups
- Thursday, April 23: Four round of 16 matchups
- Friday, April 24: Four round of 16 matchups
The quarterfinals will take place on April 27-28 with two quarterfinals each day. The four remaining teams will advance to the semifinals, taking place on April 30 and May 1.
The tournament championship will unfold over the course of two days: May 4-5.
Live streams of select simulations will be available on MLB.com, the MLB Network Twitch channel, and DraftKings’ platforms. MLB Network’s Scott Braun and Jon Morosi will handle the play-by-play and analysis.
Breaking down the DraftKings pool
The number of questions in each DraftKings pool varies.
Today’s contest, for example, covers the entire tournament. It means some of the answers will not be decided until the final game is played.
Will the Phillies or Nationals advance further? Or will both franchises be eliminated in the same round?
How about the possibility of a player throwing a no-hitter? Players have a 50-50 shot of guessing correctly.
As far as the tournament winner goes, here are the choices:
- Red Sox
- Any other team
Run lines and total scores will not be a factor, at least with the simulated version of baseball.
Maybe, by the time the final game is played, there will finally be an update on MLB’s 2020 schedule.