We’re in a New York state of mind this week thanks to the rising fortunes of Gotham’s sports teams. The Yankees are on the verge of returning to the World Series after sweeping the Astros in the Bronx, the Giants are riding high after winning their first game of the season, and the Jets have a (semi) legitimate shot of returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2010, sitting at .500 in a wide-open AFC. There’s so much to be excited about in the Big Apple that it’s easy to overlook the Rangers’ slow start, or the fact that the Nets gave up 140 points on Wednesday night to the lowly Pacers.
Last week we looked at the odds for New York’s eight major-league franchises and we’re back again with odds and props for the Baby Bombers, the Giants, and the Rangers. We also have fresh new odds for embattled coaches Ben McAdoo and Alain Vigneault. Start spreading the news!
YANKEE DO-IT-ALL DANDIES
Odds the Yankees win the World Series: 7/3
To paraphrase Mark Twain, “rumors of the Yankees’ demise have been greatly exaggerated.” For the second time in as many playoff series, the Baby Bombers have come back from an 0-2 hole against a 100-win team. The Yanks pulled their latest Lazarus with three resounding victories against the heavily favored Astros this week, running the team’s record to 5-0 at home in the playoffs. Their supposedly overmatched starting pitchers and inexperienced batters looked especially sharp last night as they cruised to a 5-0 victory behind a stellar performance from Masahiro Tanaka and the suddenly red-hot bats of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. The Yankees still have to win one more game to advance to the World Series, but they have momentum and renewed confidence on their side as they head back to Houston for Game 6.
If they do advance, the difficulty level only ramps up, however. The Dodgers (up 3-1 on the Cubs in the NLCS) are likely to be waiting. LA (104-58) posted the best record in the majors this year, have a grand total of zero weaknesses, could have Corey Seager’s big bat back in the lineup, and will have home-field advantage. Winning the title would mean defying the odds one more time.
Over/under Aaron Judge strikeouts in 2018: 199.5
Aaron Judge led the American League in multiple categories in 2017, but the one category he’d like to leave off the back of his baseball card is strikeouts. All Rise whiffed 208 times in 678 plate appearances last season, and established a new record for most Ks by a rookie. Part of the problem was his relative inexperience, but another was his immense strike zone. Opposing pitchers consistently managed to use Judge’s 6’7” frame against him.
It’s worth noting that Judge’s strikeout totals dropped in September and there’s reason to believe he won’t approach 200 punch outs again. He’ll be one year older in 2018 and he’ll have faced the increased pressure and scrutiny of the playoffs. That experience should help him handle just about anything pitchers throw his way in his sophomore season. Expect minor adjustments, fewer Ks, more walks, and a lot more fireworks in the Bronx.
HOPE ON THE RANGE(RS)?
Odds the New York Rangers finish last in the Eastern Conference: 9/1
Odds the New York Rangers finish last in the NHL: 15/1
Are the Rangers really as bad as they seem? It’s still early, but the answer to that question would seem to be a resounding yes. The team is presently last in the Metropolitan Division and 15th in the Eastern Conference after going 1-5-1 with a -9 goal-difference in its first seven games. Their defense is a mess, their lack of depth is glaring, and Alain Vigneault has shown an uncanny knack for mishandling the team’s young players. Add it all up and you have a club that’s going nowhere fast.
I never in a million years thought I would say this, but they may actually miss Dan Girardi. No, sorry, I take that back. We’re not there yet.
A GIANT SIGH OF RELIEF
Odds the Giants finish over .500: 40/1
A week ago everyone, including MTS, was writing off the Giants. The team had just lost Odell Beckham Jr., Dwayne Harris, Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard, and rumors were swirling that Eli Manning would be shipped off to Jacksonville. And then they made us all look foolish by going out and dominating the 3-1 Broncos, at Mile High no less. It was almost as though the game had been scripted by Disney rather than called by Mike Sullivan.
Some fans are now starting to wonder if the Giants can turn things around and finish the season above .500. And by “some fans” we mean the guys in the cheap seats who have been drinking since 10:00 a.m. There are just ten games remaining this season and New York would have to go 8-2 in order to finish with a 9-7 record. It’s possible, but it would require a herculean effort from a dramatically undermanned team. In reality, the G-Men are not as bad as their 1-5 record suggests and they will likely be favored when they face the winless 49ers in a couple weeks. But they’re big home underdogs versus Seattle this Sunday and still have games with the Chiefs, Eagles, Rams, and Cowboys on the schedule. Even if they get a nice little run going by beating the Seahawks and Niners, the schedule is too tough and the roster holes are too big. Their recent feel-good narrative will eventually come to an end.
Odds the Giants finish with a better record than the Jets: 5/3
It seemed unthinkable we would be discussing this coming into the 2017 season. The Giants had the look of a Super Bowl contender, while the Jets had one of the most talent-poor rosters ever assembled. But both teams have defied the odds through Week 6. The Jets are a .500 team (3-3), while the Giants (1-5) are all but eliminated from playoff contention, despite their upset in Denver last week. Ironically, they have scored and given up an almost identical number of points, and are neck and neck in total offense and total defense. The strength of their remaining schedule is also almost identical. The Jets face two sub .500 teams the rest of the way, while the Giants will face three.
The real difference is depth. While the Jets started the year with very little talent, they’ve managed to stay relatively healthy and are doing a decent job with what they have. The Giants, on the other hand, have one of the most injury-depleted rosters in the NFL. Since they already have a two-game edge on their MetLife co-tenants, the Jets should be able to eke out more wins than the G-Men in 2017.
Who will get fired first
- Alain Vigneault, Rangers: 2/3
- Ben McAdoo, Giants: 3/2
Ben McAdoo and Alain Vigneault have had two very different weeks. McAdoo has been the toast of New York following the Giants first win of the season and has been applauded by critics for having the wisdom and humility to pass his play calling duties onto offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Vigneault, on the other hand, has been raked over the coals for the Rangers’ slow start. Pundits have questioned whether players are tuning him out and are openly calling for his termination. Both men will likely have a few more weeks to prove themselves, but if the Rangers continue their downward spiral, don’t be surprised to see Vigneault’s neck on the chopping block.