Are you worried? Have the Chicago Cubs gotten your goat? Sorry, but I couldn't resist that line. Before the All-star break the Cubbies lost nine out of the last ten games and "the curse" junkies were coming out of the closet again. Superstar pitchers Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester got rocked back to back in Pittsburgh . . . The team destined to follow the Cleveland Cavaliers achieving decades of redemption look very beatable.
Uh oh, don't panic. It just doesn't look like great value if you got down wagering on ending 108 years of World Series misery at 2-1 odds in May. It's just that if you want to exorcise that goat you can now currently get 4-1 futures to win the World Series at popular offshore sportsbooks BetOnline and Bovada. And I have a feeling that's the best price you're gonna get for the rest of the season IF the Cubs start reeling off wins again.
National League Pennant Plays
You're not getting rich investing in the Cubs to end that 1945 drought at +175. That's the current future betting price at most preferred offshore sportsbooks including Heritage, BetOnline and Diamond Sports. I hate to jinx the beloved little bears, but there is some great value on a few other NL teams that make reasonable sense if you want to roll the dice. Here's a suggestion:
Yes, I know the Cubs, Giants and Nationals own the board right now. San Francisco and Washington are both second choice around +300 at most books. But why not take a really bold stab on a longshot. If so, the Marlins could be the realistic one at startling +1800 odds at Bovada and an even better (+2000) at BetOnline.
The Marlins have a decent chance to win the NL East with the Washington Nationals facing their usual injury problems and annual situation babying Steven Strasburg toward the playoffs. They've developed a pretty solid hitting line-up behind slugger Giancarlo Stanton if he can stay out of one of his prolonged slumps. Miami is looking to get another starter before the August 1st trading deadline to back staff ace Jose Fernandez. At 20-1, hey, why not roll the dice.
San Francisco Giants
Conversely, this is a team I would NOT recommend. Although I do respect the Giants and their excellent manager, Bruce Bochy, how many times can they make the same formula work? Yes, they do have superb pitching and good defense but you have to score runs. From Madison Bumgarner on down, the Giants have a great staff and somehow have mostly avoided injuries. Can that last an entire season again? The Dodgers may suffer now with Cy Young man Clayton Kershaw out for an extended time with a bad back. Eventually, expect the same thing to happen to one or maybe two of San Francisco's pitchers as the season rolls into September.
Most online sportsbooks, including Diamond Sports and Bovada, have the Giants currently at +250 to win the NL pennant. Given the choice, I'd rather back the Cubs +175 regardless of curses, goats or superstitions.
American League Pennant Plays
Toronto Blue Jays
Either you love em or hate em but the bat flippin', fighting Blue Jays will be a World Series factor for the rest of the season.
Currently locked-in at +600 to win the AL pennant at most top online sportsbooks, Toronto has an intimidating line-up and decent pitching to get the job done. And that's why they're 6-1 while the Cleveland Indians are favorites at +275 and the Texas Rangers are +350. Just "decent" pitching.
Remember, this is the team that almost beat the KC Royals last year getting into the World Series and were also good the year before. Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson are proven All-Stars along with power hitter Jose Bautista. When they're at their best, the BJ's might have the best starting eight in baseball.
Yup, the big problem is you're not going to scare anybody with guys like J.A. Happ and Marcus Strohman on the mound leading your pitching staff. And that's why you're getting very generous odds at the moment with Toronto. It's tough to have confidence they can win as many as two playoff series, outscoring teams 8-6 every night. But the Blue Jays do have a big advantage at home in front of their wild fans, so you can add that to the plus list for making an investment. The other reason is no one team is overwhelmingly better than another in the American League. For strict value, the Toronto Blue Jays are the best bet at the moment.
No I'm certainly not either a Yankees or Red Sox fan. And I am rooting for the Indians to play the Cubs in the World Series. That would really be fun. It's just at the current +250 to +275 favorite odds at most sportsbooks, the Tribe is not a great bet to end their own long streak of misery either.
Maybe it's the 2016 Cleveland vibe, who knows, but the Indians are playing really well. They also do have a very good middle of the batting order in Francisco Lindor, Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana. Just not that crazy about the rest compared to the Red Sox, the Blue Jays or the Rangers line-up. And pitching-wise, not many have much playoff experience compared to others in the American League. That will become a key factor in October.
Again, I do think the Indians hold on to win the division and make the playoffs. But not absolutely convinced they win the pennant wearing the favorite tag.
Speaking of Favorites
It's interesting that some money has come in on "The Donald" backing his hopes becoming the next President of the United States. Hillary Clinton has dropped from -350 to -240 as the Democratic Party favorite to win over Donald Trump in November in the most recent political wagering line posted at Bovada.
Perhaps it's due to the latest Quinnipiac polls indicating some momentum, but more likely because Trump hasn't said something truly stupid or controversial over the past two weeks. That could all change this week at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland where he's scheduled to take the microphone in full glory tonight. So, like another possible Cubs 10-game winning streak, now might be a good time considering getting a few bucks down on Hillary while the price is right. Your choice. She goes to bat in Philadelphia at the Democratic Convention next week.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.