Major League Baseball’s expanded playoffs format doesn’t look like it will create too much drama in the final week of the MLB regular season, which ends Oct. 5. But there’s at least one race worth tracking the odds for, and Aaron Judge is keeping things interesting, too.
Let’s have a look at the MLB betting market at Caesars Sportsbook.
All eyes on the East
Barring a big collapse somewhere (always possible!), the pennant race drama comes down to the National League East Division, where the New York Mets hold a one-game lead over the Atlanta Braves heading into Tuesday night’s action.
Both teams have already clinched playoff spots, but the stakes of winning the division are huge: The first-place team will get a bye through the first round of the playoffs, which is a best-of-three crapshoot, and will avoid the powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers until at least the National League Championship Series. The second-place team? They’ll have to go into that best-of-three gauntlet, perhaps against the loaded San Diego Padres, and the winner of that series goes to L.A.
The Mets and Braves play three more head-to-head games this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The good news for the Braves is that they’re all in Atlanta. The good news for the Mets is that if they can win just one of them, they own the season series over the Braves and would win the division in case of a tie.
Accordingly, the Mets are -380 favorites to take the East at Caesars Sportsbook, while the Braves can be bought at +290.
What else is left to play for?
So, about the possibility of that collapse. It seems more likely in the NL, where two wild card spots remain open for three teams. The aforementioned Padres have a 1½-game lead on the Philadelphia Phillies, who in turn have a 1½-game lead on the Milwaukee Brewers.
The race is still tight enough to flip in the final week, but the Padres and Phillies both own the tiebreaker over the Brewers, so the race isn’t quite as close as it seems. Caesars doesn’t even list odds for any of the teams to make the playoffs.
In the American League, the chance for drama is even lower. The Toronto Blue Jays have cemented themselves into the top wild card spot, and the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners have a strong grip on the other two. The only team with a chance of catching one is the Baltimore Orioles, who trail the Mariners by 3½ games and the Rays by 4 and loses the tiebreaker to both. Again, Caesars doesn’t offer odds here.
Aaron Judge watch
Of course, the baseball world has been more focused on a couple of home run chases in September than anything else. One of them is over: Albert Pujols hit two home runs Friday night in Los Angeles, giving him 700 for his career.
But the other one is still very much on. New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, after hitting his 60th homer last Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, has gone a week without a dinger — which for him qualifies as a drought.
Judge also has a chance to win just the second Triple Crown in a league in the past 55 years if he can lead the league in homers, RBIs and batting average. It’s the batting race that is in doubt; as of Tuesday, Judge was batting .314, just one point ahead of the Minnesota Twins’ Luis Arraez and the Boston Red Sox’s Xander Bogaerts.
Judge’s next long ball will tie the fabled 61 from Roger Maris in 1961 that remains the Yankees and American League record. The one after that would be the record-breaker.
Caesars has odds on when Judge will hit that 62nd home run:
at Blue Jays (Tuesday or Wednesday, two games): +350
vs. Orioles (Friday, Saturday or Sunday, three games): +150
at Rangers (Oct. 3-5, four games: +300
Doesn’t reach 62 homers: +400
What about the World Series?
When all of the regular season business is concluded, the MLB playoffs offer little respite. After an off day on Thursday, Oct. 6, the best-of-three Wild Card Series run over the weekend of Oct. 7-9, followed by the Division Series from Oct. 11-17 and the League Championship Series on Oct. 18-26.
The World Series starts Oct. 28. The odds for which teams will reach it, and win it, haven’t changed dramatically since mid-summer.
The Dodgers are still the favorites at +300, and they’re just +140 to win the National League pennant.
In the American League, the favorite is the Houston Astros at +150, and they’re down to +380 to win the World Series, with that price dropping all summer long. That’s due in part to the multi-million dollar bets placed by Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale on the Astros to win it all as a hedge against a furniture promotion he ran in his stores.
New York’s teams, the Yankees and Mets, are both +500 to win the World Series, followed by the Braves at +800. After that, there’s a significant drop-off to the Blue Jays at +1600 and the St. Louis Cardinals at +2000.
Here are the complete World Series odds at Caesars Sportsbook as of Tuesday morning:
Los Angeles Dodgers +300
Houston Astros +380
New York Yankees +500
New York Mets +500
Atlanta Braves +800
Toronto Blue Jays +1600
St. Louis Cardinals +2000
San Diego Padres +2500
Seattle Mariners +2500
Tampa Bay Rays +3000
Cleveland Guardians +3500
Philadelphia Phillies +5000
Milwaukee Brewers +10000
Baltimore Orioles +75000
Chicago White Sox +250000
San Francisco Giants +500000
Minnesota Twins +500000