How Sportsbooks Navigate The Betting Variables Of A Topsy-Turvy Sports World

With sports askew in 2020, DraftKings Sportsbook’s Johnny Avello says there will be adjustments, but odds making isn’t “down to a science” yet.

Sportsbooks, like gamblers, are entering a new age.

As the MLB and NBA plan July returns, and with the NFL staring at both a new August preseason and September regular-season start, betting variables are everywhere.

Case in point: There will be no fans at MLB or NBA games. The NFL has more time to decide on that front.

Johnny Avello, the 35-year sportsbook veteran and head of operations for DraftKings Sportsbook, shared his insights on this unprecedented era with NJGamblingSites.

In a wide-ranging interview, Avello said operators are making tweaks rather than wholesale changes to their odds-making models. But tweaks, gamblers know, make a difference.

What are those tweaks, which may decide bets? Let’s take them in order of when sports return.

A world of unknowns in MLB betting

Baseball, returning July 23 with a regional schedule, presents a realm of handicapping challenges.

The 60-game season means that teams such as the defending champion Washington Nationals, who began last year 19-31, won’t recover from a slow gate break.

Win totals may become the trickiest wager of all.

“Rarely during the season will you see somebody jump out to 10-1,” Avello said. “A team like the Yankees might be 5-5 and catch a lot of momentum later. A fast start is more important this year than ever before.”

Avello said middle-inning relief will be significant this year, too. So will the way managers use starting pitchers, especially early in the season. Yankee Gerrit Cole has a 100-strikeout prop at DraftKings.

Avello said a staff ace might get 13-14 starts. Cole would need at least a couple of breakout games, probably in the 12-strikeout range, to hit this prop.

One other consideration involves how long managers let pitchers go, especially early in the season. Some early-season stints will be short and, with the Yankees, there’s one more variable.

Few starting pitchers go past seven innings.

“Cy Young would not have gotten more than seven innings with the Yankees,” Avello quipped, referencing baseball’s all-time winningest pitcher.

New extra-inning rule and over-under game totals

A new rule prompting each extra half-inning to start with a runner on second base will impact over-under game totals. It’s an over bettor’s reprieve, an under bettor’s nightmare.

One might believe this could prompt more bets related to nine innings or special props for extra innings only. But it’s too early to know, said Avello.

“You have to figure there’s a good chance that teams will score there, either with a hit or doing the right things like bunting him over and getting him home with a sacrifice fly. We will have to adjust to that after the season starts, but it is important.”

Rainouts and refunds

What if some games don’t occur because of rainouts?

Avello said DraftKings is approaching an incomplete schedule differently than many other books. There is no minimum number of games required for a bet to be considered fully actioned if the result is known.

If a bettor took the over and it has covered, the bet will count, regardless of how many games the team fails to finish.

Conversely, if the bet was a mathematical loser, it won’t be rescued by the shortened season (e.g., a team is four wins short of the over and only plays 57 of the 60 games. The ticket loses).

Whenever a bet is still “in play,” meaning it could have been decided by the games that were not played, it will be refunded.

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NBA betting and the eight-game warmup

A couple of playoff spots will be determined by an eight-game, season-ending stretch for the NBA.

All the games will be played in Orlando starting July 30.

But for most teams and players, the campaign is designed for them only to hit the playoffs ground running.

“The power ratings for each team stays intact,” Avello said.

“Some teams have injured players, and they will get those players back. We know they will improve, but we don’t know by how much. There is no home-court advantage, from what we see.”

Philadephia 76ers and the lack of a home-court edge

In fact, the absence of the NBA home court is difficult to assess regarding handicapping.

“Without the crowd, I don’t know exactly what that is going to mean for the totals,” Avello said regarding the total points teams combine to score. “We don’t know how each team will react to the environment. That can mean player-wise, shooting-wise or team-wise.

“To me, in this environment, players have total concentration. These players zone out a crowd. Now, the crowd can mean momentum at times. Within the midst of any game, the crowd is going to be a factor at some point. There are also going to be a lot of times when that does not affect anything.”

“Let’s put it this way,” he added, chuckling, “there are a lot of adjustments we are going to make along the way. We don’t have it down to a science right now.”

One interesting team in this mix: the Philadelphia 76ers.

They were a league-best 29-2 at home and an awful 10-24 on the road. Does that even out for them? They are neither home nor truly away. They are perpetually neutral.

Keeping an eye on NBA futures betting

The eight-game season has two important segments.

Players, like championship runners, will want to pattern their stride to hit the postseason at full tilt. They have missed the game so much that they will be eager to perform.

On some bubble teams, such as the Portland TrailBlazers and Memphis Grizzlies, full tilt starts right away.

“There will be some teams out of it after a couple of games, and you figure they take that down a couple notches,” Avello said. “Some teams will have to go all out right away.

“On the futures side, we keep a close eye on anybody testing positive for the virus. They might be out for a minimum of two weeks. The (Milwaukee) Bucks may be able to survive two weeks,” he said of the team with the league’s best regular-season mark of 53-12, “but I don’t know how many other teams can.”

NFL betting: Homefield ‘half’ advantage?

The NFL preseason starts just after basketball’s resumption, but the date circled in NJ sports betting quarters is Sept. 10.

That’s when the NFL resumes, with the Houston Texans visiting the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in a rematch of their memorable AFC postseason shootout.

Remember that 51-31 shootout? When you had the over bagged by halftime? Or when you took the Chiefs in-game when they trailed 24-0?

Football thus has had more time to prepare and incorporate its attendance variables into NFL odds making. Estimates have ranged from no spectators to a 75%-of-capacity crowd.

What does that mean now?

The 12th man could be gone. Domed teams will suffer more. Think about the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys.

Dome is home. Loud stadiums force opposing teams offside, disrupt their signals.

The domes could be empty or partially filled. Avello noted that this changes the odds on two levels.

“Any fans will certainly add to the excitement level of it. If there are no fans, I feel that the home-field advantage is cut in half, but it doesn’t go away.

“With the home field, you are still using your own locker rooms. You are still sleeping in your own home. You are a 10-minute drive away from the stadium, and you are still comfortable with the feel of that stadium. The opposing team still has to travel to get there.”

Applying the philosophy that the home field is worth three points, it now may be 1.5. That would be significant.

A betting brainteaser for DraftKings Sportsbook

The sports world’s overall variables present an unprecedented challenge and some brainteasing fun for DraftKings and NJ sportsbooks.

You won’t see a crowd unraveling a visiting team’s closer. There won’t be an electrifying dunk that, figuratively, tears the roof off of a building. No walk-off grand slam in a packed house. No Lambeau Leap.

But there will still be sports betting, and that’s a big victory, a warm-weather win.

“Usually in the summer you are talking just about baseball,” Avello said.

“This time you have basketball, football, soccer, golf, UFC, etc., all happening at the same time. We are happy about that. There is a lot going on for us and for the bettors.”

As for the business, which was decimated by an estimated 80% back in March, Avello said DraftKings is well on its way back.

He could not release figures but considered an estimate of DraftKings doing 65%–75% of its normal business in the ballpark.

Horse racing odds at DraftKings? It’s a possibility

On a side note, Avello said DraftKings is looking at a horse-racing platform. After all, the app did have fixed odds on the Haskell Invitational Stakes last year.

The idea of fixed-odds horse betting, which gives bettors fixed odds on a horse race bet made in advance (probably the day of the event), is something that could occur this summer.

In the wagering world, gamblers have learned there’s nothing wrong with the word “could.”

“Maybe” is also fine. So is “possibility.” They indicate the potential of something coming.

Situations are changing constantly, but the sportsbook wheels always turn.

There has never been this level of uncertainty — yet relief — in the sports betting community.

MLB Betting: Phillies’ 60-Game Schedule Comes With A Few Challenges Early On

The Philadelphia Phillies open the 2020 pandemic-shortened season against the Marlins and Yankees. And there’s no margin for error in the 60-game season.

Wondering what it will sound like when the Philadelphia Phillies open the season inside an empty Citizens Bank Park?

Well, it’s now a matter of weeks before we find out.

On July 24, the Phillies host the Miami Marlins in a three-game series.

Welcome to the 2.0 version of the 2020 MLB regular season.

The opening series is identical to the original March start except for the change in locations. And there is that other minor change.

You know, the one where fans are not allowed inside MLB ballparks thanks to COVID-19. So does location really matter?

Plus, this season comes with the unknown of how much the Phillies roster is going to be impacted by the global pandemic.

Keep in mind, a 60-game schedule leaves little room for error. Here is a closer look at what the revised Phillies season looks like.

Staying healthy key for Phillies in 2020

Even before the Phillies arrived at camp last week, questions started circulating regarding the team’s health.

In comparison to hamstring and shoulder strains and other common baseball injuries, COVID-19 is a much more serious matter. But if players test positive, special precautions are in place to protect other team members.

When Aaron Nola was missing in action last week, rumors started circulating that the ace pitcher had the virus.

It turns out Nola is doing just fine.

Of course, the lingering concern in the next few months is that if a player contracts COVID, there is the realistic possibility he could be lost for the season.

And it will be up to the player to decide whether or not to make the news public.

For instance, the Phillies starting third baseman Scott Kingery is on the injured list. So are pitchers Hector NerisTommy Hunter and Ranger Suarez. The report, however, does not provide reasons.

But whatever their injury is, players still have two-plus weeks of healing time.

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Yankees present early test for the Phillies

When it comes time to play ball, the Phillies are going to be tested early.

For starters, Miami, despite finishing last in the NL East in 2019, is the team that prevented Philadelphia from finishing with a winning record.

In other words, there is no guarantee the Phillies will get off to a 3-0 start.

From there, they will host the New York Yankees, who are favored to win the American League.

If we are basing things off of current MLB betting odds, this would be a golden opportunity for Philly to capture some early attention.

But then, without a day off, the two teams will travel to the Bronx and play two more games.

DraftKings Sportsbook has the Bronx Bombers at +400 to win it all. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers at +375 have slightly better odds.

The Phillies, by comparison, come in at +2000.

For those wondering, the Phillies’ odds of winning the NL currently sit at +1100. They are tied for fifth-best.

Here is a look at the current DraftKings National League championship odds:

  • Dodgers +170
  • Braves +600
  • Nationals +750
  • Mets +900
  • Cardinals +900
  • Cubs +1100

Looking deeper at the 2020 MLB schedule

Now, if this was a normal season, the Phillies would be playing at least one home and away series with each of those previously mentioned teams.

But in a pandemic-shortened season, trips to LA and St. Louis would make it extremely difficult to cram 60 games into 66 days.

Each team is playing 10 games against their respective division foes. In the Phillies’ case, this includes the defending world champ Nationals, the Braves and the Mets.

And all three of these franchises have slightly better odds than the Phils to win the National League.

The team’s chances of winning the NL East, on the other hand, are much better at +325.

Here’s how the rest of the NL East odds shape up at DraftKings, FanDuel Sportsbook and FoxBet NJ:

National League East Team OddsBravesNationalsMetsPhilliesMarlins
FoxBet NJ+185+260+300+350+25000

A shortened season comes with its advantages, though. The Phillies are playing all 10 games against Atlanta in August.

Talk about the importance of a quick start.

Six of their 10 games against the Nationals, however, are slated for September.

By the way, forget about announcers frequently using the words “day off.” There are a total of three in August and two in September.

So rain and injuries will create major headaches for all 30 teams.

Get to know these 2020 MLB rule changes

Since there is very little room for scheduling adjustments, MLB is changing the rules slightly.

First, forget about Nola or Zach Wheeler striking out on three pitches. The designated hitter will be taking their at-bats.

The rule is in place for this season only.

And remember those drawn-out, extra-inning games? You know, the ones that last 16 innings and go until 1 a.m.?

Not this season.

Instead, each team starts the extra frame with a runner on second base, which makes settling the final score a little easier and quicker.

And managers will not be making pitching changes after every batter this season. All pitchers must face at least three batters. The rule applies to starters and relievers.

The Phillies and MLB betting options

So now that we’ve rounded the bases with the basics, here is a look at some unique NJ sports betting options.

BetMGM Sportsbook, for instance, has several Bryce Harper specials posted.

Here are a few:

  • Total hits (over/under 52.5)
  • Total RBIs (over/under 35.5)
  • Total home runs (over/under 15.5)

As expected, these numbers are way off of his career averages of 134 hits, 79 RBIs and 27 homers.

But the over/under lines are based on a 60-game, not 162-game, season.

Fox Bet NJ also posted several props, too, like which pitcher will have the most strikeouts.

Nola’s odds are at +2500. By comparison, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole leads the field at +225.

Call them intriguing side bets.

But the bottom line is, the Phillies need Harper and Nola to put up consistent numbers if the team is going to have any shot at contending.

The Phillies as NL East champions does have a nice ring to it, even if it happens during a 60-game season.

July 24 can’t come soon enough.

Can A New Manager Light A Fire Under The Phillies For A Short Season Of Wins?

DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook have similar odds for the Philadelphia Phillies total wins for the shorter 2020 MLB season.

New Jersey bettors can start serious baseball handicapping.

First, major sportsbooks such as DraftKings and FanDuel released projected win totals for the novel 60-game season beginning July 23.

And on Wednesday night, DraftKings posted individual props for hitters to reach 20 home runs or pitchers to strike out 100 batters.

Watch the props list grow as we close in on opening day.

Baseball futures betting is a tricky, creative challenge this year. There are unusual factors, such as regional scheduling and the absence of a home-field edge because of no spectators.

There is a further loss of players who won’t compete because of coronavirus health concerns. Their absence may impact some teams’ win totals.

Nonetheless, we have a place to start. So let’s dive in.

MLB total wins odds at DraftKings, FanDuel

Both NJ online sportsbooks have the Los Angeles Dodgers at 37.5 victories, essentially the equivalent of a 101-win campaign. They have the same number for the New York Yankees.

Betting angle: Neither team can afford a slump or slow start for over bettors.

The Houston Astros come in at 35.5. The defending champion Washington Nationals are 33.5.

Betting angle: The Nationals have lost some key players.

The New York Mets, at 32.5 victories, and the Philadelphia Phillies, at 31.5, are expected to exceed .500.

Betting angle: Both teams will be playing the Yankees, Boston Red Sox and perhaps the Tampa Bay Rays fairly often.

It’s interesting that DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook have the same win totals. There are usually different spreads that give bettors the option to tailor wagers to where they find the best odds.

That’s likely because oddsmakers won’t move them to coax certain bets until they review all the implications of a compressed 60-game schedule.

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Phillies have a chance to improve

For gamblers, this is a nice time to review who’s actually on all these teams now. The offseason changed rosters.

And it’s been a long offseason.

Here are some considerations to bridge the 2019 season, the offseason and the beginning of the 2020 campaign.

The Phillies were a disappointing 81–81 last year. They are targeted for a slight improvement.

Phillies fans should consider the team’s aggressive offseason moves in the neighborhood of $133 million.

Those moves included nabbing:

  • Zack Wheeler, RHP
  • Didi Gregorius, SS
  • Tommy Hunter, RHP

Now add in a great manager. Joe Girardi, a no-nonsense, hard-nosed leader, has to be worth a couple of games of improvement by himself.

He has long been considered one of the best in the game and managed the Yankees to the 2009 World Series title.

These moves complement the 2019 acquisition of Bryce Harper for a multiyear commitment.

Speaking of the shortened season, the Phillies were 33–22 at one point last year, even while the bullpen cost them perhaps five games with blown leads.

The first half should have been much better, and the second half was just bad. Girardi can and probably will light a fire under this team.

NY Mets look good again

The New York Mets featured slugging newcomer Pete Alonso and won an impressive 86 games last year. Their total wins projection for the 2020 season is a slight downward trend.

The Mets added depth starters Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello. This helps the bottom of the rotation and would make them formidable if Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz stay healthy.

It’s been a big “if” in recent years.

New York also acquired former Yankee All-Star Dellin Betances, who often appeared unhittable as an eighth-inning reliever. He did not handle ninth-inning stress well, however, as the closer and has been recovering from an injury.

Bet the over with the Yankees

The Yankees won a whopping 103 games in 2019, and their total is slightly lower proportionately this year.

They picked up pitching star Gerrit Cole in the offseason. That was a great move but will only matter for about 37% of a regular season.

Nonetheless, the Cole move makes the Yankees’ over number more attainable.

The Yankees obtained a pitcher with 326 strikeouts and a 2.64 earned-run average last year. He was the prize catch of the offseason and joins Luis Severino, James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka to create a formidable staff.

New York fans already planned a postseason World Series parade, but not so fast. Both Severino and Tanaka are fighting back from injuries.

Seasonal-win props have a fun and useful second betting purpose.

Many teams come within a few games of their projected victory totals. That helps single-game wagers, as bettors can determine which teams are trending way ahead or behind their trajectories and bet accordingly.

Can Alonso ‘Re-Pete?’: Mets slugger highlights prop board

A New York Met and New York Yankee now own the National League and American League rookie home-run records.

Alonso slugged 53 for the Mets last year, surpassing Yankee Aaron Judge’s 52 as the most in history for rookies.

Alonso headlines the new DraftKings prop regarding the 20-homer plateau in this shortened season. He is at +250 to reach the mark, which equates to a 53-homer full season.

Mike Trout is +300, Giancarlo Stanton is +300, Cody Bellinger is +400 and Joey Gallo is +145.

Star pitchers seek triple figures in 60 games

The 100-strikeout pitching prop equals about 264 over a full season.

Cole is -121, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are +115, and deGrom is +145.

This bet depends entirely on how you believe the pitchers will be used.

Will they be allowed to go deeper into games because the season is shorter? Or will they be eased into the season with strict pitch-count limits because they have not been pitching since the fall?

To enhance the betting spirit, both New Jersey sportsbooks put up one more recent line.

The Yankees are -136 against the Nationals (+112) on Opening Day. FanDuel has the Yankees at -128 and the Nationals at +110.

And it’s Cole vs Scherzer.

Let’s play ball!

Well, Hot Dog! DraftKings Puts Odds Up For Annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

The 2020 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest will afford some normalcy to NJ sports betting fans this year, with odds on the action at DraftKings Sportsbook.

On Independence Day weekend last year, there were NBA Playoffs and MLB, MLS, WNBA and NWSL regular-season events for New Jerseyians to bet on.

This year, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest may get some of that action.

While the NWSL will have matches on July 4, there is little other North American action to wager upon. Thanks to DraftKings Sportsbook, however, the unique nature of 2020 has somewhat of an amusing side.

Hot dog eating contest odds to fill the void

On Wednesday, DraftKings announced it had reached a deal with Major League Eating to become an official sponsor.

As a result, there are two ways DraftKings app users can get in on the fun in New Jersey.

Both ways center on Saturday’s annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. This year, ESPN will broadcast the contest from a closed location, and MLE has installed other safety precautions for participants.

DraftKings is offering a free-to-play pool contest for all users. That game comes with $25,000 in prizes.

New Jerseyians are fortunate to be in one of only three states in which DraftKings will offer betting markets on the contest as well. Currently, DraftKings is the only NJ sports betting app with such lines.

The app has two markets set on both the men’s and women’s events.

There is a prop that pits last year’s champions against the field and a totals market on the number of hot dogs those favorites will eat.

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The lines on Nathan’s at DraftKings

In the men’s contest, Joey Chestnut is seeking his 13th Nathan’s title. DraftKings has him as a -1250 favorite, with the odds on the field resting at +650.

Over on the women’s side, Miki Sudo will try to make it seven Nathan’s wins in a row. She is -835 against the field, which has +500 odds.

DraftKings sets the over/under on hot dogs eaten for Chestnut at 72.5, which is just shy of his Nathan’s record of 74. The odds reflect that record, as the over sits at -137 and the under at +105.

The sportsbook is less optimistic about Sudo’s consumption on Saturday. The line on hot dogs eaten for Sudo is 40.5.

In 2018, she hit a career-high of 41, so hitting the over would at least tie her personal best. DraftKings, accordingly, has her -143 to do that while pegging the under at +110.

Gathering information is just as key to handicapping these markets as any other. MLE has felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, too.

What to know before you wager

Under normal circumstances, competitive eaters on the MLE circuit would be hitting their midseason strides.

The spread of coronavirus has resulted in the cancellation of many MLE events this year, however.

Additionally, there’s a lack of fans to consider. Normally, Chestnut, Sudo and others would be performing to a raucous crowd on Coney Island in New York.

Just like in any other contest, the roar of the crowd can provide motivation. It remains to be seen how the competitors will handle any rust and the comparative silence on Saturday.

Regardless of the outcomes, the fact that the contest is happening and that New Jerseyians can wager on the event this year offers some sense of normalcy.

If Chestnut and Sudo retain their titles, it will be business as usual indeed.

What Are The Odds? New Jersey Sportsbooks Gear Up For The Return Of MLS

The odds are on the board at New Jersey sportsbooks for the MLS is Back Tournament. Who are the favorites? Depends on which book you look at.

Major League Soccer was just two weeks into its 25th season when the decision was made to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

League and team officials have been working to come up with a plan that would bring the season back in a way that is safe for players and exciting for fans.

The result of this is the MLS is Back Tournament, which will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando from July 8 to Aug. 11.

And NJ sports betting apps have the odds up and ready to roll.

How the MLS is Back Tournament works

The World Cup-style tournament will have all 26 MLS teams split into six groups, three per conference.

It features a continuous schedule of matches nearly every day, with games beginning at 9 a.m., 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. EST. The majority of the matches are played in the evening.

The Eastern Conference will have one group of six and two groups of four. The Western Conference consists of three groups of four teams.

Each team will play three games. The top three teams from Group A and the top two teams from Groups B–F, plus the next three teams with the overall highest point totals, will advance to the Round of 16.

The winning team will get a slot in the CONCACAF Champions League. Each tournament game counts as a regular-season game, so the stakes are very high in this tournament.

MLS odds at NJ sportsbooks

Most New Jersey sportsbook apps have future odds for potential winners of the MLS is Back tournament.

We included odds from four NJ apps:

Here are a few of the teams that oddsmakers in NJ are predicting to be major players in the MLS tournament. All odds as of June 30.

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Los Angeles Football Club

Coming off of the best regular season in MLS history, the LAFC was poised to build off of that in 2020.

Led by reigning MVP Carlos Vela, the team was 1-0-1 before the shutdown and are the favorites.

The only real challenge in their group is their crosstown rivals LA Galaxy. With their depth plus having an experienced coach in Bob Bradley, it’s win or bust for the LAFC.

NJ sportsbooks have the LAFC winning the MLS is Back Tournament at:


Toronto Football Club

The Toronto FC are the defending Eastern Conference champions. They had a bit of luck during the break, as they got back midfielder Michael Bradley from injury with only two games missed.

Having Bradley back and a very easy group draw puts the Toronto FC in the driver’s seat.

NJ sportsbooks have the Toronto FC winning the MLS is Back Tournament at:


Seattle Sounders

The Seattle Sounders are the reigning MLS Cup champions, so they have recent experience with tournament play.

They will be playing in a weak group with FC Dallas, San Jose and Vancouver. They should cruise to the knockout stage.

It will be there where Seattle’s offense, led by Jordan Morris, will be needed for any chance to bring home the title.

NJ sports betting sites have the Seattle Sounders winning the MLS is Back Tournament at:


Atlanta United

Since its inception just four years ago, Atlanta United has made an impact on the league and will be looking to continue the trend in this tournament.

However, they will be without star forward Josef Martinez, as he suffered a torn ACL during the early part of the season.

If they can get past a group that includes Eastern Conference mainstays Columbus and the New York Red Bulls, ATL can make a splash in the Round of 16.

Sportsbooks have Atlanta United winning the MLS is Back Tournament at:


Can The Philadelphia Phillies Win The World Series In A 60-Game Season?

With the framework for the 2020 MLB season set, it’s time to take a closer look at how the Philadelphia Phillies’ odds shape up against the other 29 teams.

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.

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 BravesNew York MetsFlorida Marlins and Nationals.

The other 20 games will be against the Yankees, Red Sox, Baltimore OriolesToronto 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.

PointsBet NJ is among the operators playing the waiting game.

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.

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:

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:

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.

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!”