A lot of us aren’t sure what to expect from the 2020 Major League Baseball season. After all, the league is moving to a 60-game schedule and playing without any fans in the stadiums. MLB actually had an opportunity to expand the playoffs, from 10 to 16 teams, during the hiatus but the ugly negotiations reared their ugly head in many aspects.
We will need to lean on what we know about each team in clutch time and apply it with a dash of optimism. One rough stretch throughout the season could potentially hold a team back from making the playoffs. For bettors, this is the perfect time to maybe let it ride with a risky bet or two. There are so many unknown factors since none of these guys have ever gone through something like this.
Let’s take a look at three teams, and whether they’ll make the playoffs or not. All odds posted are according to William Hill.
The Indians are in a precarious situation, not having the same talent they’ve been accustomed to for most of this run over the last decade. Francisco Lindor will always be a stud but his sidekick Jose Ramirez is starting to show signs of regression; the latter of the two missed about a month of time last year due to injury and batted a career-low .255.
Starting pitching should be Cleveland’s most successful unit on the team. Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber are an effective 1-2 punch; Carlos Carrasco and Zach Plesac are talented but have some type of caution attached to each of them for different reasons. The bullpen isn’t anything special – certainly nothing that’ll take them into the postseason.
While the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals probably won’t give them any trouble in the AL Central, the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox certainly will. This will end up being a much closer divisional race than initially intended. At the end of the day, AL West teams like the A’s, Angels, and Rays could very well get the last Wild Card spot. Not to mention, the NL Central will give the Tribe much stiffer competition.
Philadelphia Phillies to make the playoffs (+220)
Making the head coaching change to Joe Girardi will do wonders for this underachieving Phillies team. This is a team that usually gets off to a great start and then falls flat on their faces after a late-season Central or West Coast road trip. Luckily, neither of those two scenarios is in that stratosphere.
This is a very good lineup, one that is probably more comfortable now with each other. Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto and Andrew McCutchen got a nice addition in Didi Gregorius in free agency. The loss of Cesar Hernandez to Cleveland will hurt but also gives Jean Segura and Didi to be in the same lineup; Segura is moving to second base.
If this all works out, Philly’s pitching will have a lot to do with it. The team signed Zack Wheeler to pair up with Aaron Nola atop the starting rotation. The bullpen is a lot healthier this season, which will certainly flourish under the tutelage of Girardi.
The NL East isn’t as strong as we might think this season, making it the perfect opportunity for the Phillies to strike.
Tampa Bay Rays to make the playoffs (-125)
The Rays always manage to find themselves in the thick of the race despite a low payroll. Tampa Bay eclipsed 90 wins for the second straight season en route to a Wild Card Game win and taking Houston to the brink in a five-game series.
The Rays’ use of the bullpen will be key in getting to the playoffs in this condensed season. Luckily, the top of the rotation – Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow – is loaded with talent, and that goes along with one of the most-used and talented bullpens in the game. The loss of Emilio Pagan hurts somewhat, but there are more than enough arms to make up for it.
Two big offensive pops were added to the lineup in Jose Martinez and Hunter Renfroe. The lineup will do its usual job of getting just enough runs while getting solid pitching and defense.
The Red Sox are expected to take a step back this season. Doing so would allow the Rays to slide right in and claim their usual spot.
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