Despite Pitching Woes, Mets Favored To Capture Pennant
by Mike Hayes - 07/28/2006
Their Ace has been on the DL since before the All-Star break and their winningest pitcher hasn't won since June 23. They have used 10 different starting pitchers this season, including four rookies and Jose Lima. They are the Mets and they are your World Series favorites.
Most books have made the Mets the No. 1 choice to win the Series in this, the 20th anniversary year of their last championship. This is due almost entirely to the fact that the Mets appear very likely headed to the World Series in spite of their starting pitching woes.
Because they appear headed to the Fall Classic they are obviously a better bet in July or August than any of the American League teams that are far from guaranteed even a wild card berth in the highly competitive AL. Should the Mets advance, as the odds suggest, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which any of the primary AL contenders, the Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox, Tigers or Twins, wouldn't be the favorite in a seven game series, especially with the AL once again enjoying the benefit of home-field advantage.
With a 12-game lead over the second-place Braves in the NL East, the Mets are a virtual lock to win their first division title since 1988 and with little to beat in the weak National League, the Mets are prohibitive favorites to win the NL flag at books that are still taking such action. (Bodog has the Mets at 5/4 to win the NL Pennant).
Pinnacle Sportsbook has the Mets at 4.6/1 to win the World Series, slightly better than the 4/1 you can get at Nine Sportsbook or Bodog, but is not taking action on the league championship. Bodog has the Mets as a 4/1 second choice behind the 2/1 Tigers.
Pinnacle has the Tigers at nearly 5.5/ 1 and they can be had at 5/1 at Nine.
We mentioned just weeks after the White Sox won the 2005 series that the Mets were worth a futures play at 33/1 for 2006 because significant moves were likely. Of course those odds dropped dramatically with the signing of Billy Wagner and the trade for Carlos Delgado. While the 33/1 sure does look great now, the Mets appear to have their work cut out for them if they plan to add a third World Championship to their portfolio.
One advantage the Mets do hold over other teams is that they have the luxury of resting Pedro and Glavine to make sure they have something left in the tank come playoff time. With a 12-game lead in the last week of July, manager Willie Randolph is already taking advantage of this, moving to a six-man rotation for the time being. A 12-game lead at the close of July allows you this luxury even if four of the six are untested or haven't been particularly good.
Ace Pedro was an All-Star game selection with a 7-4 record and 3.45 ERA, but found his way to the DL first. He is due back against the Braves on Tuesday. Tom Glavine, one of the most profitable moneyline pitchers in baseball this season at plus $1,131, is 11-4 on the season but hasn't won in more than a month. Trachsel too has been profitable thanks to generous run support but he has been an even better bet on the total line as the total has gone over in 15 of his 20 starts, no surprise when you consider his 5.14 ERA. This might get you through the regular season but not game three of the World Series.
Another factor working in the Mets favor is GM Omar Minaya, who has relished in stealing the headlines from the Yankees. It is likely he will make a deadline move to either fortify the starting pitching or bolster the beleaguered bullpen. Barry Zito and Dontrelle Willis have been mentioned in New York as possibilities and, even though there is little chance either moves, don't count the Mets out.
Minaya knows you don't get too many chances to win a World Series, and given the opportunity, he will be willing to part with young talent like Lastings Milledge to get one. With either Willis or Zito at the top of the rotation, the Mets become legit series favorites.
Although starting pitching is their achilles heel of late, they still boast the second lowest ERA in all of baseball, thanks to a major league best bullpen that very well could be sucking wind come October due to overuse.
Ironically, the Mets bullpen strength can be seen in their abysmal run line record where they show a record of 44-57 and are minus $1,354 for the season. This can be attributed to their MLB best 22-10 mark in games decided by a single run, games in which a good bullpen is often the difference.
The Mets have rewarded backers on the moneyline this year, as they are currently fourth in MLB at plus $1,028. They are just plus $74 at home but a solid plus $954 on the road.
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