Bettors who don’t care much about the morality of banging on garbage cans to tip off pitches are in quite a hole if they’ve been backing the Astros this season.
After a bad week, Houston is 6-9, already 5.5 games behind the Oakland A’s in the AL West. Normally a sub-.500 record wouldn’t matter after 15 games, but that’s a quarter of this shortened season.
It was hard to see this coming. To begin the season the Astros had the third-best odds to win the World Series. Their over/under win total at BetMGM was 34.5, which is about a 93-win team in a normal season. They opened up as huge favorites in their first two games, giving -278 odds in each game against the Seattle Mariners, and won both easily. They looked like the same Astros from the past few years.
It hasn’t been very good since. Not that anyone outside of Houston will be shedding a tear.
Last week started well enough, with a win against the Arizona Diamondbacks as favorites, and then came five straight losses. The Oakland A’s were favored in all three games against the Astros, something that was a bit stunning given the Astros’ recent dominance. Oakland swept the Astros and look like the best team in the division.
The Astros still had the third-best odds to win the World Series on Monday at BetMGM, at +900. That seems way too optimistic for a team that is under .500 and isn’t the same powerhouse of the past few years. Houston also lost two of the best starting pitchers in baseball, Gerrit Cole in free agency and then Justin Verlander to injury. Closer Roberto Osuna went on the IL, too.
The team has no clear option for the ninth inning; Ryan Pressly had a blown save in a loss to Arizona last week. Offensively they’re struggling as well, hitting just .234. They’re near the middle of the league in home runs and slugging percentage too.
It’s hard to tell if an offseason full of controversy over a cheating scandal has bothered them, but it probably didn’t help.
The Astros still have a lot of talent so a turnaround can’t be ruled out. But it might not be the best idea thinking their lines have good value after a slow start. The Astros have some flaws, and they’re showing.
Here are the sports betting winners and losers from the past week:
Those who backed Collin Morikawa: Morikawa turned a great final round into a PGA Championship win, giving an unexpected windfall to bettors who probably didn’t think their longshot had a great chance going into the final round.
Morikawa was about 30- or 35-to-1 heading into the first major of the year. Even though Morikawa was playing in just his second major, sharp bettors liked him. An MGM spokesman said the biggest liabilities the sportsbook had on the PGA Championship were Tiger Woods, Li Haotong and Morikawa.
There won’t be the same value on Morikawa for the next major, the U.S. Open. He is 20-to-1 to win the U.S. Open at BetMGM, the eighth-best odds in the field.
Brooklyn Nets: Let’s forget about what happened for the rest of the week and just celebrate the Nets one more time.
The Nets pulled off the biggest NBA upset in 27 years, in terms of the point spread. They were 18.5-point underdogs against the Bucks, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Already thin heading into the Orlando bubble, Brooklyn sat its top three players against Milwaukee. And a group of players that collectively had very little history of success in the NBA controlled the game from beginning to end. The upset was epitomized by Timothe Luwawu-Cabwith, who had a 5.9-point career average but scored 26 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He hit 5-of-7 3-point attempts.
It was the largest NBA upset in terms of the point spread since 1993, when Dallas won as a 19.5-point underdog against Seattle. Even better for the bettors that had the Nets at about 13-to-1 on the moneyline (and BetMGM in New Jersey had a couple bettors place decent-sized bets on the Nets to win straight up).
No matter what happens over the rest of their careers, that group will always have a stunning win over the Bucks to remember.
Buffalo Bills future bets: If you’d jumped on the Bills to win over 8.5 games this season earlier this summer or bet them to win the AFC East, All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White’s revelation that he might opt out of the season was a cause for concern. White is the Bills’ best player and had he sat out the season, it would have canceled out some of the advantage Buffalo had when the New England Patriots had eight players opt out.
White is going to play. The deadline passed and White decided he wouldn’t opt out. It was still a reminder that betting early to get the best odds, while still the right move, has a lot more risk this year.
The Bills are the new favorites to win the AFC East at +125. They had been behind the Patriots, who are now +130 at BetMGM, through most of the offseason.
NBA favorites: The league’s best teams gave us some great games early on in the bubble. Last week was was more about upsets as teams started to eye the playoffs.
With home-court advantage meaning nothing in Orlando and some teams having their seeds clinched anyway, there were some uneven performances among the top teams. The Bucks’ loss to the Nets as an 18.5-point favorite was part of a day in which NBA favorites went 0-6. The Lakers lost back-to-back games by 19 and 16. The Toronto Raptors, who have the best record in the NBA since Jan. 1 and started 3-0 in the bubble, lost by 22 to the Celtics.
It’s not surprising. But with a week to go before the playoffs, it’s important to keep in mind which teams are actually playing for something.
Home-field advantage in the NFL: It makes sense that we have seen home-field advantage lessened without fans in the stadium. Some European soccer leagues saw more road teams win than usual, and the early results in Major League Baseball saw a more even split among road and home teams. MLB home teams were 99-91 through Friday’s games.
Some NFL teams have started announcing they won’t have fans in the stands when games start. The Las Vegas Raiders said there wouldn’t be fans during their first season in a new market. The Green Bay Packers have ruled out having fans for at least the first two games. Others will follow.
Oddsmakers didn’t anticipate a huge shift in lines right away based on no fans being allowed in, which means if you believe home-field advantage will be eliminated there will be value on road teams early in the season. Lines for NFL Week 1 games are up at BetMGM.
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