- Astros’ World Series odds dip from +800 to +1400 after 8-10 start
- Houston’s inexperienced bullpen has blown seven saves in 18 games
- Astros’ odds to win AL West dip to +200; A’s favored at -275
The 2019-20 offseason could have gone better for the Houston Astros. After losing Game 7 of last year’s World Series at home, the Astros watched helplessly as All-Star starter Gerrit Cole joined the rival New York Yankees on the biggest contract ever given to a pitcher. Houston didn’t aggressively do much to add to their own roster while also losing catcher Robinson Chirinos and a key bullpen arm in Will Harris to free agency.
While the Astros’ odds to win the 2020 World Series dipped below those of the Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, many still had Houston pegged as a legitimate contender when the season began. Losing manager AJ Hinch wasn’t enough to deter oddsmakers from remaining bullish on an Astros team that has consistently been among the most dominant in baseball for the last three years.
However, things haven’t gone smoothly at all for Dusty Baker and co. in the early going. Houston is off to a ragged 8-10 start, and they have been beset by a rash of injuries. Justin Verlander’s status is in doubt due to a strain in his right forearm. Closer Roberto Osuna is likely lost for the year. Ryan Pressly hasn’t looked right after beginning the season injured, while Yordan Alvarez and Jose Urquidy have missed the first few weeks of the season due to illness.
Astros’ Odds Dipping
The Astros’ underwhelming start combined with the red-hot surge from the Oakland Athletics has caused Houston’s futures odds to take a hit at MLB betting sites. The Astros have seen their odds to win the 2020 World Series fade from +800 at the start of the season all the way to +1400 as of this writing. Houston now has the sixth-best odds to win it all:
|Team||Odds at Bovada|
|New York Yankees||+350|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+375|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+1700|
The Astros may be sub-.500 right now, but the expanded playoff field means Houston is still pretty likely to get into the postseason. Aside from the 13-6 A’s, the AL West doesn’t have another team over .500. The Astros should be able to make up enough ground to at least grab one of the AL’s Wild Cards between now and the end of September.
Houston can score runs, but keeping runs for their opponents off the board has been a struggle. With Verlander injured, the Astros are relying heavily on Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr. to carry the rotation. Beyond those two, Baker is having to depend on unproven commodities like Christian Javier, Brandon Bielak, and Framber Valdez to fill rotation spots.
Inexperienced Bullpen To Blame
The Astros have also already blown seven saves thanks in large part to an inexperienced bullpen full of rookies. Without those blown saves, Houston is looking at having one of the better records in baseball. The offense has scored 93 runs, which is the ninth-most in the majors. They will get a boost with Alvarez set to return to the lineup this weekend, as well.
Most blown saves in 2020:
1. Astros 7
2. Angels 5
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) August 12, 2020
The Astros have hit pretty well despite slow starts from stalwarts like Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Alex Bregman. Springer and Bregman are both hitting under .200, while Bregman is a hair north of .200. Those bats will come to life eventually.
It’s far too early to count Houston out. The roster is still dotted with All-Stars all over the field, and the American League beyond the Yankees is essentially a crapshoot. Houston has had great success at New York’s expense in recent years come playoff time, which makes the Astros’ new depressed odds pretty alluring from a betting perspective.