Posted on: September 13, 2022, 02:00h.
Last updated on: September 13, 2022, 07:53h.
The Yankees are playing at Fenway Park in Boston tonight, which means there will be folks with NY baseball caps perched on Landsdowne Street. They are hoping to catch Yankee Aaron Judge’s next home run as he pursues Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs.
Judge has not homered since last Wednesday, a five-game drought that has left him stuck on 55. These droughts never last long for Judge, whose last five-game homerless drought happened in mid-August and lasted nine games. That was followed by Judge connecting for five homers in the next eight games, then two homerless games, then four straight games with a long ball.
ESPN today compared to Judge’s season to Babe Ruth in 1927 and Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. That’s not only because of his prodigious home run production but also because of his mammoth leads in homers (20 more than Mike Trout) and 343 total bases (71 more than Shohei Ohtani), among other superlatives.
The World Series Is What Matters, Not HRs
But all the platitudes in the world will mean nothing if the Yankees fail to win a World Series title for the first time since 2009. The Yankees have won the World Series 27 times, which gives their fans a sense of entitlement that does not sit well with fans of the crosstown rival Mets, whose championship has been sitting at 2 since 1986. That means anyone 36 years old or younger has never experienced the thrill of a baseball championship, even one that Bill Buckner gifted.
All of these matters as we head into the second half of September. That’s because the Yanks and Mets have been sitting in the first place in the AL and NL East for nearly the entire season. Both need the time off that comes from winning a division title to get many of their injured regulars healthy.
The thing about baseball’s 162-game season is that it has become devalued with the expansion of the playoffs to include three wild-card teams and a best-of-5 divisional series. This puts a premium on timing the appearances of star pitchers. Because as every baseball fan knows, it is the pitching that gets the job done on those cold October nights when the ballparks in New York City become blustery and sometimes bitterly cold.
This means for this week and next week that the Yankees and Mets need to put some distance between themselves and their pursuers. The Yanks took two out of three in Tampa last weekend to hold off a Rays team that had been steadily gaining ground, and the Mets took two of three from the Pirates to re-take first place from the Atlanta Braves.
Mets More Highly Regarded than the Yanks
The Mets (+500) have shorter odds than the Yanks (+600) to emerge as champions. That’s largely because the oddsmakers seem to like the chances of the Houston Astros (+400) and their 91-50 record.
Still, the Mets will eventually have to get past the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are on pace to challenge the 2001 Seattle Mariners for most regular seasons wins, 116.
The fact is that with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer fully healthy, the Mets set up with probably the best one-two starting pitching staff in the majors. But if the Mets are forced into a wild card game or a short series, manager Buck Showalter will not be able to manage his rotation to get five appearances out of that duo over the course of a seven-game series if needed.
So for that reason, the Mets have more to lose than the Yanks as they play a homestand against the Cubs and Pirates this week. They will try not to look too far ahead to their three-game series at Atlanta Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
From a wagering standpoint, the play that has New Yorkers excited enough to drop a few dollars at one of the nine licensed sportsbooks is the prospect of Judge homering. Live in-game wagering is catching on (if you catch a Yankees game on TV, check out how many fans are looking at their phones rather than the field).
Judge vs. Green Monster
The odds of Judge homering tonight at Fenway are +215, while Giancarlo Stanton’s number is just +285. In Judge’s last trip to Fenway, he homered in the opening game of a three-game set and then went 0-for-6 in the final two games. Stanton, batting only .217, went 2-for-12 in the Yanks’ last trip to Boston but homered in the final game. He connected Saturday and Sunday against the Rays but has homered in three straight games only once all season. Judge has done it three times.
A parlay of Judge and Stanton both homering tonight is 9.6-to-1. With Aaron Boone expected to bat the two of them at the top of the batting order, there will be a bunch of New Yorkers who took a bath on Wall Street on Tuesday looking to make some of that money back. Boone has used Judge-Stanton 1-2 in the batting order twice, and it is hard to argue with the results. Judge went 4-for-8 and Stanton went 3-for-7.
Adding a homer by Gleyber Torres (21 HRs on the season) to that above-mentioned parlay boots the odds to +5648, and with Fenway’s short porch in left field, combined with the fact that Red Sox starter Nick Piveta has surrendered six homers and 17 earned in just 13 1/3 innings pitched against the Yankees this year, the temptation factor is high.
These wagers are easier to make for the Yankees than for the Mets, whose team batting average of .259 is tied for second in the NL but whose 146 homers are ranked eighth. By comparison, the Yankees have 221 dingers.
The prop wagers available in baseball are almost endless. Judge to hit two home runs is +1700. He has done it nine times, last accomplishing the feat on July 30. So you could say he is due, and batting leadoff should get him at least five at-bats.
When looking at Mets-Cubs with deGrom on the mound, he struck out eight and allowed only three hits in seven shutout innings last time out. He is such a lock to be dominant that the line on him recording at least 5 Ks is -10000. Ugh.
The Mets are -450 on the money line, so the tilt at Citi Field is not exactly a bettor’s bonanza unless you are a Cubs fan hoping for a rare off night from deGrom, which pretty much never happens.
But those are short-term things.
The 7 Train Goes to Queens; The D and 4 Go to the Bronx
Every New York baseball fan really wants a Mets-Yankees World Series, even if the rest of the country tunes it out. The line on that matchup is +1100, and both New York baseball teams are +2300 to defeat the other in a Subway Series.
That would make a lot of New Yorkers (a miserable lot for the past 2 1/2 years) a happy bunch, and those who took a chance on it on one of Wall Street’s worst days of the year maybe just had some good luck and /or good fortune coming their way.
We are a long way from that happening. But both clubs wrapping up their divisions would be a good first step. Three more weeks to see if it comes to fruition.