New Jersey bettors are not being locked out of the MLB handicapping process.
To maintain gambling interest while negotiations threaten the start of the season, DraftKings Sportsbook has placed some bets up earlier than last year.
Gamblers have a nice portfolio of options, missing out only on full-season wagers like over-under team win totals, individual home runs, wins, and hits.
The book instead shifts the emphasis to leaders, regardless of the season length.
One option includes division title odds for the New York Yankees, New York Mets, and Philadelphia Phillies.
The other is a tantalizing, intriguing strikeout leaderboard involving four outstanding pitchers from those teams.
New Jersey online gamblers can chart the progress of these hurlers all season. Gamblers, in this sense, compete against each other in every start.
MLB Pitching Prop Odds At NJ Sportsbooks
Here’s what DraftKings opened with regarding betting odds to lead the majors in strikeouts:
Gerrit Cole of the Yankees is the favorite at +450, while Jacob deGrom of the Mets is next at +700.
Mighty Max Scherzer, signed by the Mets just before the lockout, is also at +700.
Robbie Ray, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner signed by the Seattle Mariners, is +800.
Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Guardians checks in at +1000.
Corbin Burnes, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner from the Milwaukee Brewers, is +1100.
And then comes the most interesting selection in this group. That’s Zack Wheeler of the Phillies, who has betting odds of +1200.
He had 247 strikeouts last year, the second most in this group. He’s also a former Met, bringing fans of his former team into the equation.
This will be a fascinating puzzle to dissect start-by-start.
Past performance of MLB pitchers
Here’s what the due diligence handicapping looks like from last year:
Cole, 31, threw 181 innings and registered 243 strikeouts. In 30 starts last year, he only went more than seven innings three times and hit nine innings once.
The Yankee philosophy is seven innings and then the bullpen.
DeGrom, 33, had a magical season cut short by injury. He had 142 strikeouts in 96 innings, a pace that would have vaulted him above 300 in 200 innings. He had an incredible ERA of 0.50 in his first 12 starts. DeGrom was en route to establishing the greatest pitching season in MLB history, but injuries killed it.
The Mets will probably try to limit his innings and hope for the postseason.
Mighty Max, 37, hurled 179 innings and notched 236 Ks. He’s a workhorse. But the Mets spent a fortune to get the aging hurler and may keep him around that innings mark, maybe a little higher.
Ray, 30, had the most strikeouts in the group with 248 in 193 innings. He went beyond seven innings just once.
Bieber, the baby at 26, compiled only 96 innings last year but got 134 strikeouts. Can he avoid injuries?
If so, he could hit 270 and above. But he’s only one year removed from a shoulder strain that hampered him. How much further does the team stretch him?
Burnes, who nipped Wheeler for the Cy Young Award, is only 27. He notched 234 strikeouts in just 167 innings. Given the advantage of youth and the possibility of 20 more innings, he could lead this pack.
Wheeler, 31, cleared 200 innings for the first time, at 213. He had 247 strikeouts, more than Cole and Scherzer. And he’s +1200. That’s value.
Can he do it again? Wheeler went eight innings twice and nine once, a shutout over the Mets. The Phillies’ bad bullpen prompts him to go deeper in games.
Analyzing MLB Strikeout Props
A National League hurler will face the opposing pitcher twice in most games. That could produce more strikeouts compared to American League hurlers, who contend with the DH.
American League pitchers partially mitigate the problem because they won’t be lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the 7th in a close game. Still, it’s a slight edge for NL pitchers.
How to expand the bet
Follow all the pitchers start-by-start. You may detect a zone for them or an opinion on strong or weak opponents. This can lead to some well-informed individual-game bets.
That’s one hidden beauty of a season-long prop. It provides some basic research to apply for single contests.
The strikeout leaders are only one interesting wager for New Jersey gamblers. The division races emphasize that the New York teams always get betting love.
Betting On MLB Divisional Odds
In the National League East:
The Mets are the +140 chalk to win, compared to the world-champion Atlanta Braves at +150.
The Phillies are an excellent price of +500, while the Miami Marlins are +1000, and the Washington Nationals are +3500.
In 2021, Atlanta seized the division with 88 wins, pulling away from the Phillies in the last couple of weeks, and then won the World Series.
The Phillies led the division in early August, finally catching the Mets. But then the Braves pulled ahead of them. The Phillies won 82 games.
The Mets, projected to win 91 games at DraftKings and Caesars Sportsbook, went 77-85.
Oft-injured Noah Syndergaard is gone. The flamethrower was limited to just two innings over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery. And he signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Mets also lost Marcus Stroman to the Chicago Cubs. Stroman was one of their better pitchers, winning 10 games with an ERA of 3.02 and a WHIP of 1.145.
Yes, the Mets signed Scherzer to a monster contract, but they have also lost both a solid and potentially-solid contributor.
Like the Mets, the Yankees also gained betting support.
The Yankees are +185 to win the American League East. The Toronto Blue Jays are next at +190, followed by the Tampa Bay Rays at +300.
Boston is next at +550, whereas the Baltimore Orioles are +15000.
A closer look at the AL East
Tampa Bay won the division with 100 victories with help from perhaps the most eye-opening pitching depth ever recorded.
The Rays captured 100 games with no player earning more than 10 wins and with 23 different pitchers notching triumphs. That’s off the charts.
Shane McClanahan and Josh Fleming “led” the way with 10 wins apiece.
Contrast that with another team that won exactly 100 games, the 1969 Mets. They split the total among 10 pitchers.
Tom Seaver paced them with 25, while Jerry Koosman notched 17, and Gary Gentry had 13.
Tampa Bay had no pitcher hurl more than 155 innings and instead got more players involved, keeping many arms fresh. It’s one of the most remarkable pitching-staff jobs ever performed.
The Yankees and Red Sox tied with 92 wins. Boston beat the Yankees in the one-game postseason playoff.
Toronto captured 91 wins.
Anthony Rizzo, whom the Yankees acquired at the trade deadline in 2021, is a free agent. He could land back with the Yankees or elsewhere.
Toronto lost Cy Young-Award winning Ray, but picked up Kevin Gausman, who comes off a career year with the San Francisco Giants.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)