How a 60-game 2020 schedule affects MLB betting odds

The National League implementing the designated hitter is just one of the quirks of this 60-game 2020 MLB season that oddsmakers are adjusting for.

Patrick Everson
Last Updated: Jun 25, 2020 8:42 AM ET
Los Angeles outfielder Cody Bellinger hits a ground ball in the National League playoffs.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

MLB betting is back on the odds board with a 60-game regular season that took several weeks to hash out. Bookmakers now face the challenge of setting MLB odds for a very different kind of season.

Oddsmakers at Circa Sports, The SuperBook at Westgate and Caesars sportsbooks discussed how the 2020 MLB schedule impacts the futures books and day-to-day regular-season odds.  

How does the 2020 MLB schedule impact World Series odds?

World Series odds, and for that matter all MLB futures odds, become a much different proposition when the regular season leading to that postseason undergoes such a dramatic change.

“The biggest adjustments will be in the futures market, where you’ll see the long shots’ odds shortened,” said John Murray, executive director of The SuperBook. “It’ll be more likely for a team to get hot for a short period of time and steal a playoff spot or even a division title in a 60-game season than in a 162-game season.”

In fact, the 60-game schedule is so radically different that Circa sportsbook manager Chris Bennett is proceeding with far more caution than normal.

“I don’t plan to reopen baseball futures until I am confident this season is actually going to be played,” Bennett said. “The biggest impact of a 60-game regular season vs. a 162-game regular season is that it gives weaker teams a better chance of making the playoffs and winning the World Series. Whatever our World Series and division odds were before the pandemic, the bad teams need to have shorter odds and the good teams need to have longer odds with a 60-game regular season.”

So for the moment, Circa Sports is offering a Yes/No prop on each team to win the World Series, but has no other MLB futures odds on the board. Caesars director of trading Jeff Davis has World Series, AL and NL odds, and regular-season win totals posted, but he concurred with his peers on what the biggest impact the 2020 MLB schedule has on the futures book.

“With the smaller sample size, there will be a larger randomness quotient. Therefore, in future-style markets, favorites aren’t quite as favored and long-shot prices aren’t as long,” Davis said.

 

How does the 2020 MLB schedule impact regular-season game odds?

On a day-to-day basis, MLB odds won’t be handled much differently by sportsbook operators. However, there are some considerations oddsmakers will keep in mind once the schedule is set and games start going up on the board.

“I’d expect the better teams to give more effort than they would in a 162-game season,” Murray said. “By that I mean, using their best relievers for two innings instead of one inning, or not throwing away games with a spot-starting pitcher the way they may have done during a 162-game season. Every game is worth that much more, and we expect the managers to act like it.”

Bennett pointed to another pitching component that might be key in the 60-game season.

“I wouldn’t change much with the approach to booking individual games,” Bennett said. “I will want to know if any starting pitchers are on pitch counts. That’s the only thing I can think of right now that could be an issue.”

Of course, there’s the prospect of injuries or players needing rest, along with the likelihood of players testing positive for COVID-19. But Murray said his oddsmaking team is prepared for those situations.

“We’ll have to be even more diligent than ever checking to see if guys are in or out, but from years booking the NBA, we are pretty used to guys not playing,” he said.

 

How do rule changes impact MLB odds?

With an unusual season comes some unusual MLB rule changes, the biggest of which is that the National League will have a designated hitter, rather than having pitchers step up to the plate. In addition, regular-season games that go into extra innings will see each team start the additional frames with a runner on second base, in hopes of preventing prolonged extra-inning affairs.

There are a few more minor changes, but oddsmakers agreed the NL DH rule will require the most noteworthy adjustment.

“We’ll see higher totals in the NL games with the DH hitting instead of the pitcher, but otherwise, the day-to-day should be pretty consistent with last year,” Murray said.

Who will win the World Series?

Team Odds to win
Los Angeles Dodgers +350
New York Yankees +350
Houston Astros +1,100
Atlanta Braves +1,500
Minnesota Twins +1,500
Tampa Bay Rays +1,800
Washington Nationals +1,800
Chicago Cubs +2,000
Cincinnati Reds +2,000
Oakland Athletics +2,000
Los Angeles Angels +2,200
New York Mets +2,200
Chicago White Sox +2,500
Cleveland Indians +2,500
St. Louis Cardinals +2,500
Philadelphia Phillies +3,000
San Diego Padres +3,000
Milwaukee Brewers +4,000
Arizona Diamondbacks +5,000
Boston Red Sox +5,000
Texas Rangers +6,000
Toronto Blue Jays +7,500
Colorado Rockies +10,000
Detroit Tigers +25,000
Miami Marlins +25,000
Kansas City Royals +25,000
Pittsburgh Pirates +25,000
San Francisco Giants +25,000
Seattle Mariners +25,000
Baltimore Orioles +50,000

Odds courtesy Caesars sportsbooks

Where can I bet MLB odds?

Many online books and casinos offer bets on baseball odds and props. Check out the best sportsbooks available where you live.

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