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Astros emerge as World Series favorites after Zack Greinke trade

Updated August 1, 2019 - 7:24 pm

Before baseball’s trade deadline Wednesday, the Astros and Dodgers were 3-1 co-favorites at the Westgate sportsbook to win the World Series, while the pitching-starved Yankees lurked close behind at 9-2.

But after Houston added ace Zack Greinke to a stacked rotation with fellow former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander and All-Star Gerrit Cole, the Astros emerged as a 2-1 favorite to win their second world title in three years.

“When you have those three starters going for you in a playoff series, that definitely makes the Astros the favorite, combined with the fact that they’re getting all their players healthy on the offensive side,” Westgate sportsbook manager Randy Blum said. “But we don’t want to sell the Dodgers short because they’re right there as well.”

Los Angeles, which had baseball’s best record through Wednesday’s games at 71-39 (Houston was 69-40), stayed at 3-1 odds to win its first World Series since 1988.

“They didn’t make any moves, but they’re still the class of the National League,” Blum said. “Their pitching staff can compete with the Astros. (Walker) Buehler is a great young pitcher, (Clayton) Kershaw gives you solid games and (Hyun-Jin) Ryu has been incredible.

“If it ends up with those two teams, it will be a great World Series. The favorite will come down to home-field (advantage).”

After the Astros acquired Greinke, the Westgate moved the American League from a minus 130 World Series favorite to minus 160 over the NL.

A Bronx fail

After New York failed to add a pitcher to its struggling starting rotation, the Yankees’ odds lengthened to 6-1 to win their first World Series since 2009.

“We bumped the Yankees up because they didn’t make a move. We were fully expecting them to add some type of starter,” Blum said. “When you look at the (potential playoff) pitching matchups, it feels like the Astros will be favored in every game, even at Yankee Stadium.

“Obviously, we still like the Yankees offense, but their pitching has to rebound here pretty soon. We still think they’ll win their division, but match them up in a playoff series against the Astros and it’s hard to see them winning when you look at what they’re throwing out there on the mound.”

The Braves remained the 9-1 fourth choice to win the World Series after adding three bullpen arms, while the Cubs’ odds improved from 16-1 to 14-1 after trading for Tigers right fielder Nick Castellanos.

“We didn’t want to go too low on the Cubs because they’re tied with the Cardinals for the division, but we definitely like that pickup,” Blum said.

Giant liabilities

The Giants, who have won 20 of their past 27 games to climb within two games of a wild card, represent the largest liability at the Westgate. The book would lose more than $1 million on NL pennant and World Series futures if San Francisco, a 100-1 long shot, wins it all.

“We don’t consider them to be realistic contenders, but look at the standings and they are,” Blum said.

The Cubs and Twins each represent close to a six-figure liability for the Westgate.

The Indians, 20-1 shots to win the World Series, have won 29 of their past 40 games and expect former Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to return down the stretch.

The Mets, 4½ games back in the wild-card race, are the hottest team in baseball with seven consecutive wins and are 100-1 long shots to win it all. Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom has rounded into form on a capable rotation with Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Zack Wheeler.

“It’ll be hard for the Mets to make the playoffs because of how poorly they started,” Blum said. “But if they were able to make the playoffs, I wouldn’t want to play them.”

Top trends

Based on $100 bets on each game this season, the biggest money winners are the Twins, Giants, Dodgers, Rangers, Yankees and Braves, who are each up more than $1,000, according to Covers.com.

The biggest losers are the Tigers, Red Sox, Royals, Blue Jays, Padres and Mariners.

The top over teams are the Mariners (68-38), Red Sox (65-41) and Pirates (61-43). The best under teams are the Reds (64-39), Astros (58-46) and Cardinals (56-45).

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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