Opening Day Blues: MLB Start Date in Question, 2020 Futures Odds Available

In another universe, today, March 26, is Opening Day of the 2020 MLB season. Baseball fans young and old play hooky as they await the first pitch from their favorite team, the Washington Nationals begin their World Series title defense, while the Houston Astros defend their bodies from vengeful pitchers. Unfortunately for us, a novel coronavirus, COVID-19, had other plans.

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The global coronavirus pandemic has resulted in suspensions or cancellations of major sports in all hemispheres, leaving sports fans with time they wish they never had.

On Wednesday, Major League Baseball commissioner Ron Manfred addressed the league’s plan regarding Opening Day and the coronavirus, telling ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt that “nothing’s off the table.”

Optimistically, Manfred hopes for a May return, but the league will consult with infectious-disease experts and see how things play out in April before setting a date.

“I think the goal would be to get as many regular-season games as possible and think creatively about how we can accomplish that goal,” Manfred said.

The MLB could turn to a heavy dose of doubleheaders as one solution to pack as many games of the original 162-game schedule (per team) in as possible.

For now, with the number of regular-season games still in question, baseball fans eager to play MLB DFS or bet baseball can pass the time by perusing current MLB futures prices at legal US sportsbooks.

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Dodgers sit atop 2020 MLB World Series betting odds

Though the Los Angeles Dodgers opened as World Series favorites last year, GM Dave Roberts wasn’t satisfied. The Dodgers front office used the offseason to enhance their already-lethal arsenal by acquiring Mookie Betts and David Price in a trade with the Boston Red Sox. With just one year left on Betts’ contract, the Dodgers are swinging for the fences, signaling that they’re ready to win now at all costs.

Following the trade, the Dodgers odds to win the World Series were +430. As my colleague, Joe Cistaro, pointed out at the time, “this number will not get friendlier as the Dodgers sit in an extremely winnable division with a loaded offense. Mookie Betts brings a dynamic right-handed presence to a lineup that was extremely left-handed. If you want the Dodgers, jump on now.”

Cistaro was right. Oddsmakers list the Dodgers roughly +375 as we wait for clarity regarding the MLB start date and schedule.

Before some US sportsbooks reacted to the coronavirus pandemic by taking down MLB season-long props and player futures, such as odds for the MVP & Cy Young Awards, Betts and teammate Cody Bellinger sat atop the NL MVP betting board while Mike Trout was predictably a heavy favorite to win AL MVP.

MVP and Cy Young odds are currently scarce across online sports betting sites. Still, one place you can find them is BetMGM, which is available to sports bettors via mobile wagering in Indiana, New Jersey and West Virginia.

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How will a delayed season affect MLB players, teams?

RotoGrinders chief meteorologist, Kevin Roth, looked at how the delayed season might impact MLB DFS. There are some implications for MLB futures bettors to consider. Become a RotoGrinders Premium Member to read the full report, and find out why the 2020 season could play into the advantage of West Coast hitters and East Coast pitchers. Remember, you can still bet on players to record the most home runs, hits, RBIs and other futures at BetMGM.

Nationals +1800 to defend World Series title

Aside from the weather factor, a delayed season could aid fatigued pitching staffs such as the Washington Nationals. The Nationals are as short as +1100 to defend their World Series Championship despite losing third basemen Anthony Rendon. However, you can get a discount by signing up at FanDuel where the Nats are +1800, an enticing price for a team that will deal two of the top five NL Cy Young candidates in Max Scherzer +450 and Stephen Strasburg +1100, per odds at BetMGM, to opposing lineups.

Additionally, after pitching through last October, Strasburg and Scherzer are potential beneficiaries of a shortened baseball season, too. Scherzer was on his way to a fourth Cy Young in 2019 before a nagging back injury derailed his campaign. He returned for the Nats’ historic postseason run, but he was eventually scratched from Game 5 of the World Series due to an injury.

Is Yu Darvish worthy of an NL Cy Young bet?

Yu Darvish is another pitcher who might find a sliver of a silver lining in all of this madness. Darvish has struggled with injuries during his time in the MLB, and after a rough start to the 2019 season, which included a 5.40 ERA through the first week of May, the veteran pitcher bounced back. Darvish closed the season with a 3.98 ERA, throwing his best stuff in September. Darvish’s outlook is even more encouraging when you look at his 2019 WHIP (15th) and Hard-Hit Rate (5th). Darvish +2500 to win his first Cy Young warrants consideration for any bettor still trying to find value in MLB futures markets. Sign up at BetMGM to get these odds.

It is usually injuries, luck and maybe even the baseball gods that set the course of the baseball season. If only it were that simple this time.

Click here to learn more about sports betting during the coronavirus pandemic, including league updates, sportsbook information and active betting markets.

Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images

About the Author

  • Matt Schmitto (schmitto)

  • Matt Schmitto is the sports betting editor for RotoGrinders. He grew up in Texas, graduating from Texas Tech University. He has played high stakes DFS since 2013, and enjoys betting on golf, basketball, football and whatever else is put in front of him. Schmitto is an advocate of The Bettor’s Oath.

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