A little less than one month from now, the Philadelphia Phillies will open the 2020 regular season.
Unfortunately, it will not include letting fans inside Citizens Bank Park. More importantly, the traditional 162-game format has been reduced to 60 games.
Hey, it could be much worse.
Major League Baseball made the official announcement earlier this week.
— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) June 24, 2020
But the pandemic version of MLB is going to be much different.
While the Phillies’ schedule remains a work in progress (at the time of this writing), forget about the trips to Dodger Stadium and Wrigley Field.
MLB is keeping things super localized to reduce travel. For the Phillies, that means National League East and American League East teams only.
And how does Bryce Harper playing an occasional designated hitter role sound?
It’s possible, as there will be a universal DH.
Here is a look at what we know so far and what the early MLB betting picture looks like at NJ sportsbooks.
The Phillies’ schedule remains a mystery
As of Thursday, there was still no word as to what dates the Phillies will play the Washington Nationals, the defending World Series champions.
Same with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
All three teams will be on the schedule.
The general framework, however, seems to be set. The team will play a total of 40 games against the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Florida Marlins and Nationals.
The other 20 games will be against the Yankees, Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays.
The exact home and away breakdown is still being finalized.
And until the schedule is set, the NJ sports betting market will not include any run lines.
The Phillies and COVID-19 cases
There are several what-if scenarios that could impact scheduling.
For one, with the hot and humid summer conditions, there are going to be rainy days. But scheduling 60 games in a 66-day period leaves very little room for error.
And even with the reduced travel, there are going to be days where the weather will be an issue.
Of course, the current pandemic is the much bigger concern.
What if one of the Phillies, or any other Major League player, gets the coronavirus during the regular season?
It’s no secret that the pandemic is currently an issue with the franchise.
Breaking: The Phillies have announced that five players and three staff members working at the club’s Clearwater facility have tested positive for COVID-19.
The team is closing all facilities in Clearwater indefinitely. pic.twitter.com/QuzVuRWWvs
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 19, 2020
The Phillies have not released the names of the players or staff members who tested positive. Should it happen once the regular season resumes, the story will be much different.
How many games will players be required to sit out?
What will the system be for temporarily filling the roster spot?
This will be addressed in MLB’s healthy and safety protocols. The league did share some details earlier today via Twitter:
— MLB (@MLB) June 26, 2020
Looking at MLB betting action
So what are the Phillies’ chances of winning the World Series?
Going from 162 games to 60 means any team that gets off to a fast start and stays healthy could be a contender. Think about it. The entire regular season will be played out over a two-month span.
The last day of the regular season is Sept. 27.
Odds-wise, DraftKings Sportsbook has the Phillies at +2000 to win it all. Same for the Mets and St. Louis Cardinals.
Here is the complete list for all 30 teams:
Who will be crowned 2020 World Series champion? pic.twitter.com/hklThtVD8i
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) June 24, 2020
But as far as MLB betting action goes, the Phillies are not receiving much love from bettors yet. As of Wednesday, DraftKings said the Phillies were getting just 3% of the World Series handle and 4% of the total bets.
The Yankees, on the other hand, are the hot team on the board. The handle is a whopping 49%, with the Mets (10%) a distant second.
FanDuel Sportsbook offering odds boosts
The MLB betting action will pick up as opening day draws closer.
FanDuel Sportsbook is making wagering on the Phillies, Yankees and Mets a little more enticing by offering odds boosts.
⚾️ #MLB Odds Boosts ⚾️
New York Yankees to win the World Series
New York Mets to win the NL
Philadelphia Phillies to win the NL
Now: +1800🔺 pic.twitter.com/GC6RU20o7S
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) June 25, 2020
Speaking of the National League, the Phillies will have some stiff competition. It comes as no surprise that the Dodgers are the heavy favorite at +160.
Here are some other teams in the mix:
- Braves +700
- Nationals +800
- Mets +1100
- Cardinals +1200
- Cubs +1400
- Reds +1400
Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the home plate umpire to say those famous words: “Play ball!”