Rarely does baseball resemble poker. But the New York Mets have already played Ace-Ace, and are now all-in for a Sunday night Game 3 in the cold against the San Diego Padres. The loser goes to the rail, as the card sharks say.
It took more than four hours for Buck Showalter’s team to defeat San Diego 7-3, behind one of those aces, Jacob deGrom, who kept the season alive. That’s after Max Scherzer was knocked around Friday night in Game 1 to cause owner Steve Cohen and his fan base to question one of his biggest investments.
The hedge fund manager who owns the team that plays at Citi Field is still second fiddle in a two-team town. The Mets will forever be second to the Yankees until New York somehow becomes a National League city again, as it was decades ago when the Dodgers and Giants played here.
No matter what happens tonight, it should not be overlooked that Aaron Judge of the Yankees is heading into free agency after his 62 home run season and chase for the Triple Crown. And if you do not think Cohen would want to one-up Hal Steinbrenner on this matter over the winter, you do not understand the size of New York baseball owners’ egos.
But we are not there yet. And a four-hour and 19-minute Game 2 that Mets broadcaster Howie Rose likened to “a trip to the dentist” kept this postseason alive after the Mets spent almost the entirety of spring, summer, and early fall in the first place. That’s before their lost weekend in Atlanta to begin October forced them into the wild card round while allowing the Braves to do what the Yankees, Dodgers and Astros are doing (resting) in Major League Baseball’s newly expanded playoffs.
The Dodgers (+350), Astros (+400), Yankees (+500) and Braves (+500) remain the favorites to win the World Series, with the Padres (+2000) now the longest shot on the board. The Mariners (+1100), Phillies (+1100), and Guardians (+1800) completed wild card sweeps on Saturday night, sending the Rays, Blue Jays, and Cardinals into the long winter as losers.
That leaves Padres-Mets as the only baseball being played Sunday.
Sports is cruel in so many ways, with the fortunes of what happens on one single night capable of undoing a whole season’s worth of work.
Imagine how it feels to be a Toronto fan this Sunday after your Jays blew an 8-1 lead and lost 10-9 at home. With sports gambling newly legalized in Ontario, the sports books operating there are counting their profits today. That’s after Canadian bettors jumped the gun and placed in-game wagers on the Jays, winning it all when the score was 8-1 after five innings.
But back to the Mets. As noted above, their two aces have already been played, and Chris Bassitt will be the Game 3 starter for Showalter, Cohen, and the millions of New Yorkers who have waited since 1986 for their next championship. The Mets are -140 on the money line, and some books with multiple player props give Bassitt over/unders of 3 1/2 hits allowed and 3 1/2 strikeouts, the thinking being that if he allows three to four hits, Showalter will have a quick hook.
Bassitt, a lanky 6-foot-5 right-hander in his seventh major league season, last pitched a week ago and was shelled by the Braves, allowing four earned runs on three hits and three walks in just 2 2/3 innings at Atlanta. But as bad as that start was, Bassitt did have a 4-1 month of September in which he had 18 strikeouts in two starts against the Pirates, went eight innings, and scattered six hits against his former team, Oakland. He also tossed six solid innings in a 5-3 win over the Dodgers on Sept. 1.
Bassitt’s record in postseason games is of more importance, two of which he pitched amid COVID hysteria in the shortened 2020 postseason for Oakland. That’s when 16 teams made the postseason following a 60-game regular-season schedule. Bassitt went 1-0 with a no-decision, allowing 15 hits in 11 combined innings, nine strikeouts, and just one walk, but 15 hits allowed for the A’s, who were eliminated in the ALDS by Houston.
Yes, this guy allows opponents to get runners on the bases, and rest assured that Game 3 will not only be about him. But he will be a major part of it, and if you start to build a parlay on the assumption that Bassitt and the Mets will prevail, you start by taking the over on four-plus strikeouts (-215) before moving on to the rest of the Mets’ lineup in building a multi-leg same-game parlay.
Next, you have to look at the Mets’ hitters, especially those who have been successful in Games 1 and 2 (Eduardo Escobar and Starling Marte) and are overdue for a breakout game. That’s based on what has happened throughout 2022 (Jeff McNeil, who won the NL batting title by hitting .326.).
Suppose you are a Mets fan and want to look for the most likely route to a series-clinching victory. In that case, you have to figure you need at least a hit apiece from each of those guys, whether they come against Padres starter Joe Musgrove (8.10 ERA in one career postseason start) or someone from San Diego’s bullpen. Adding one or more hits from Escobar (-160), Marte (-230), and McNeil (-220) gets the parlay up to four legs, and Mets on the moneyline (-136) makes it a five-leg parlay at +348 odds. Not a bad line for five pieces of chalk.
It should be noted that these parlay odds are coming from FanDuel, which offers the most choices. But they would be advised to offer even more if we consulted them. Anyway, adding a sixth play to that parlay is tricky because we want something likely, but which also has longer odds. That way, a $10 five-leg parlay could win and return a profit even if the $10 six-leg parlay failed.
So what is that sixth leg?
McNeil led the Mets with 39 doubles, and he is +400 to get one Sunday night. That takes us to +1354, with a $10 wager paying $135.41.
If we add the seventh leg, +2400, on Escobar having three or more hits (he is batting .667 in the series), the odds move to +16346, and a $10 wager would return $1,634.66. If we go with Escobar having two or more hits (+380), the $10 wager would pay $363.12.
Maybe y’all want to go with both. Your choice.
As a wagering strategy, this is a way to make a profit if only one of the parlays hits — the easy one with five chalk bets.
What about the Padres?
And if the Padres win? Well, that would be $30 (or $40 if you take both Escobar options) down the tubes and a long winter of longing for the glory of ’86 and ’69. But Mets fans are accustomed to that.
It is a fun play and a way to add a little financial action to your Sunday evening. There are no guarantees in sports gambling, just like there is no crying in baseball. Right, Tom Hanks? Well, you can safely wager $1 that some 6-year-old in Queens or some 5-year-old just north of Tijuana will be in tears when their favorite baseball team loses tonight, and one of these teams will lose.
As a New Yorker who was a Mets diehard until the Tom Seaver trade but still wants to see another Subway Series version of the World Series, the guy punching the keyboard advises us to hope for the best and expect the worst.
And even if the Mets lose, these two facts are not changing: Cohen is loaded with money, and Judge is a free agent. Might be the only consolation-prize line of thinking that would mitigate a Game 3 loss.
We shall see.