Pirates Acquire Chris Archer in Trade with Rays

chris-archer-pittsburgh-piratesThe Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired starting pitcher Chris Archer from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for prospects Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows.

Tampa Bay warmed to the idea of dealing Archer in the days leading up to the 2018 trade deadline. The Rays were asking a lot for the 29-year-old, but Pittsburgh was willing to meet the price.

The Pirates were likely motivated by the fact that Archer is one of the few elite pitchers available. He’s also under contact for three more seasons for $27.5 million, which is a bargain for a player of his stature.

The only problem is that Archer hasn’t had his strongest year in 2018. He started the season off poorly with a 6.61 ERA in April, but has since dropped this to 4.31. In 17 starts, he’s struck out 102 batters over 96 innings.

Archer has dealt with an abdominal muscle injury, missing five weeks as a result. However, he’s been pretty durable throughout his career and has made at least 32 starts from 2014-17.

Is Archer the Answer for Pittsburgh?

This deal certainly makes sense for the Pirates when considering that they’ve yet to fill the void left by their off-season trade of Gerrit Cole. Archer gives them a quality No. 1 or No. 2 starter who can potentially regain his form over the last two months of the season.

Another benefit for Pittsburgh is that they get an affordable starting pitcher. Archer will make $7.6 million next year, which is fairly low for a top-rotation starter. He also has options for $9 million in 2020 and $11 million in 2021, meaning the Pirates can continue getting this bargain for three seasons.

What did Pittsburgh have to Sacrifice?

While Archer can definitely help Pittsburgh win now, he doesn’t come at a cheap cost. Both Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows were top pitching prospects in the minor leagues. They’ve since graduated to the Majors and could become high-quality players in the future.

Meadows, 23, is potentially the top prospect to be traded at the 2018 deadline. He spent some games with Pittsburgh earlier in the year, hitting .292/.327/.468 in 165 at-bats.

He has yet to develop a powerful swing, however, he does have a strong ability to hit both left-handed and right-handed pitchers. Plus, Tampa Bay can plug Meadows into their lineup right away.

Glasnow, 25, isn’t as far as Meadows in his development. But he has a nice mix of pitches and only needs to work on its command to be a good starter. If he gets the command down, then expect to see Glasnow in the Rays’ rotation by next season.

Rays and Pirates 2018 Odds

The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently chasing an NL Wild Card spot and have a chance at the postseason. Their GTBets odds of winning the World Series aren’t terrible at +6000. Pittsburgh’s hope is that adding a quality starter like Archer can propel them into the Wild Card round and beyond.

Tampa Bay is in rebuilding mode, as evidenced by their +80,000 odds of winning the World Series. Getting two good prospects like Meadows and Glasnow is a perfect return for their rebuilding efforts.

Blue Jays Trade Closer Roberto Osuna to Astros

roberto-osuna-astros-tradeThe Toronto Blue Jays have been looking for an opportunity to offload closer Roberto Osuna to another team. And they’ve now found a trade partner, shipping the suspended pitcher to the Houston Astros.

Toronto shipped former closer Kevin Giles and prospects David Paulino and Hector Perez to Houston in exchange for Osuna.

The latter is currently serving a 75-game suspension for violating the MLB’s domestic violence rules. Osuna will be eligible to play again on August 4.

Will Osuna be Worth the Effort?

Osuna is currently on a $5.3 million contract through 2020. This could be a bargain when considering that he has the talent to shut down the opposition.

The 23-year-old had a 2.93 ERA and 2.06 FIP in 15.1 innings with Toronto before being suspended. He’s been pitching in the minors in preparation for his return, which saw him throw six scoreless innings.

Despite Osuna’s youth and skills, his domestic violence incident became a big black mark on his career. The Blue Jays felt that they needed to part ways with the troubled closer and give him a fresh start.

Blue Jays Add Talented Bullpen Prospects

Toronto got a good haul out of the Osuna deal. And while the prospects they received are either struggling or young, they could blossom into good MLB players.

kevin-giles-pitcherGiles has had a tough season so far with a 4.99 ERA in 30.2 innings. He even punched himself in the face after a bad outing against the New York Yankees. But Giles still has plenty of potential when looking at his 9.1 K/0 and 2.10 FIP stats.

Perez, 22, is the best-ranked prospect of the deal, sitting No. 10 on Houston’s top 30 before the trade. The right-hander has a fastball in the mid-90s and nice secondary pitches, including a splitter, slider, and curveball.

The problem with Perez so far has been his control. He’s posted a 4.8 BB/9 in 89.1 innings across two minor league levels. But Perez balances this out with a 3.73 ERA and 10/2 K/9.

It remains to be seen whether or not Perez can become a high-level starter. He’s currently at the Double-A level and could see the Majors sooner than later if he’s viewed as more of a reliever.

Paulino, 24, was once a top-100 prospect, reaching 51st on Baseball America’s list prior to 2017. He’s lost some of his luster since then, but still ranked at No. 23 on Houston’s top 30 list.

The big reason for Paulino’s fall is that he was suspended 80 games for a PED violation. The 6’7″ hurler has already played in the big leagues, posting a 6.25 ERA in 36 innings from 2016-17.

Paulino has four solid pitches, giving him starter’s value. But like Perez, he too struggles with command.

He’s posted a 4.67 ERA in the minors, which is average for a prospect. However, his 11.0 K/9 shows that he can definitely keep hitters off balance.

Odds for Blue Jays and Astros

The Houston Astros currently have the second-best odds of winning the World Series according to GTBets. They feature +450 odds right now, which ranks just behind the Boston Red Sox (+375).

Toronto is on a totally different program, though, since they have just +100,000 odds right now. It’s understandable why the Blue Jays requested low-buy prospects in return for Osuna. This is a team that’s currently just trying to get back to a respectable level.

Rockies Sign Wade Davis to $52 Million Contract – Highest Ever Salary for a Reliever

wade-davis-cubsThe Colorado Rockies are really focusing on their already-strong bullpen. They just signed relief pitcher Wade Davis to a three-year, $52 million contract. This deal also includes an option for a fourth year, which would push the total contract to $66 million.

The guaranteed money will have the Rockiest committing $17.33 million to one of the game’s best relievers. The 32-year-old was widely considered the top free agent relief pitcher on the market.

It’s obvious that Colorado sees value and what Davis has done over the past few seasons. Pitching for the Chicago Cubs last season, he finished with a 2.30 ERA, 32 saves, and 79 strikeouts in 58.2 innings.

Perhaps what won the Rockies over is how well Davis played in a division-series-clinching road game against the Washington Nationals. He struck out three batters over 2.3 innings to help Chicago advance.

Davis was also a key part of the Kansas City Royals team that won the World Series in 2015. He took over for closer Greg Holland following an injury and didn’t miss a beat. Davis will once again take over for Holland, who’s now with the Rockies and coming off Tommy John surgery.

Colorado Lands Another Top Reliever

Colorado was once dismissed among top free-agent pictures, due to how its thin air allows more long balls. However, the Rockies have had a lot of luck drawing outstanding relievers this winter.

Aside from signing Davis to a three-year deal, they also inked contracts with Jake McGee and Brian Shaw. Both deals are worth three years and $27 million. This brings the total value of Colorado’s free-agent bullpen signings to $106 million.

Add in salaries for Adam Ottavino, Mike Dunn, and Chris Rusin, and Colorado has invested around $45 million into their bullpen for the 2018 season.

Davis Becomes Highest Paid Reliever in History

wade-davis-signs-rockiesChicago Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman previously held the record for the largest contract among relievers, with a five-year deal worth $17.2 million. But Davis will trump this because he’s earning $17.33 million over the next three seasons.

One can argue that he’s earned this status, given that he joined Chapman, Andrew Miller, Craig Kimbrel, and Kenley Jansen in a conversation for the game’s best relief pitcher.

Davis has been on the rise ever since 2014, when he transitioned from a struggling starter to a reliever in Kansas City. He came to the Royals in the Jake Shields deal, and quickly impressed with a 1.00 ERA in his first season there. Davis only got better the next season, posting a better ERA and not giving up a single home run.

He regressed slightly for the Cubs in 2017, surrendering six home runs in 58 2/3 innings. Nevertheless, Davis was still a highly valued member of the Cubs.

It’s a given that Chicago tried their best to re-sign their star reliever. But perhaps no team other than the Yankees would come even close to the contract that Colorado is giving him.

Colorado Looking to Improve Upon Last Year’s Wild Card Appearance

By most accounts, the Colorado Rockies had a pretty successful season. They finished with an 87-75 record, good for third in the NL West.

Despite only finishing third in their division, the Rockies earned one of the NL’s two Wild Card slots. They lost to division rival Arizona in this game, which ended their season.

Colorado featured an average bullpen last year, ranking 17th with a 4.51 ERA. But given the aggressive reliever signings that they’ve made this off-season, the Rockies stand to improve upon this mark in the 2018 campaign.

Davis will certainly go a long way towards helping them close out games.

Houston Mattress Store Loses $10 Million on World Series

gallery-furniture-astros-betThe 2017 World Series is one of the best ever from a fan-fare perspective, with the Houston Astros beating the LA Dodgers in seven games. But it was an even bigger World Series from a betting perspective thanks to two amazing stories.

Let’s cover these stories, including a $10 million mattress promotion gone wrong and a gambler winning $14 million. We’ll also discuss how betting records fell during this year’s World Series.

Houston’s Gallery Furniture Makes a Losing $10 Million Bet

Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture, offered an unbelievable promotion during the World Series. He guaranteed a refund on any mattress purchase over $3,000 if the Astros won the World Series. The deal was so good that it brought people out of the woodwork to purchase expensive mattresses.

“It’s one of the most expensive purchases I’ve ever made,” attorney Barry McFadden told ESPN after purchasing a $13k Tempur-Pedic bed. “But I figured I was getting outstanding value, given that it was basically a $13,000 free play, since I was going to buy it anyway.

“Plus, [McIngvale’s] efforts after [Hurricane] Harvey were just unbelievable. So we decided to buy one from him, because of everything he’s done.”

McFadden was also one of many mattress purchasers who considered hedging their purchase by wagering on the Dodgers. In McFadden’s case, he wanted to bet $5,000 on the LA Dodgers in case the Astros lost.

mattress-mack-world-seriesMattress Mack ended up getting burned for $10 million in refunds when Houston pulled out a 5-1 victory in Game 7. McIngvale hedged his bets by wagering a combined $1 million on the Aststros winning at “four or five” Vegas sportsbooks.

Given that Houston won, he at least recouped one-tenth of his $10 million loss. Of course, he also got the mattresses at wholesale value and will only take a $10 million loss in terms of retail value.

Despite losing out on his mattress promotion, McIngvale is taking everything in stride. He plans on hosting a refund party at his store in December.

“I’m just so happy for the city and for the Astros,” he said. “After the hurricane, we needed this.”

Bettor X Wins $14 Million on World Series

Last week, we discussed a mysterious bettor nicknamed “Sir Let It Ride,” who won $14 million by betting on six World Series games. He went 6-for-6 and let his winnings ride each time. Allegedly an Eastern European man around 30 years old, he decided not to bet on Game 7 after earning the $14 million profit.

astros-betting-world-seriesNicknamed “Bettor X” by ESPN, he make large wagers at CG Technology, MGM Resorts, South Point, Station Casinos, Westgate SuperBook, William Hill, and Wynn.

Little is known about the lucky winner. But reporters did find that he’s normally a strong UFC bettor who hadn’t wagered on baseball in the past. He won 11 straight UFC bets from September through the first weekend of October. And the anonymous man won yet another 6 straight on the World Series.

Bettor X notably increased his wagers after each game as the World Series moved along. By Game 6, he put $8 million on the Dodgers (-126) to win. Sometimes Bettor X would just give his winning ticket back to the sportsbook and let his full winnings ride.

The man also took any odds he could get on occasion. For example, he made five separate bets on the Dodgers in Game 4 at odds of +110, +105, even money, -105, and -110. Bettor X risked $400,000 combined by making these wagers.

“He just wanted to get down on certain games,” said Johnny Avello, executive director of the Wynn race and sports. “He didn’t care what the number was. He just wanted to get down. And he just didn’t lose.”

“The market price would be -110, and the guy would be laying -140” said Jason Simbal, vice president of risk at CG Technology. “And the guy would be laying -140.” Bettor X made wagers as large as $800,000 across several sportsbooks for Game 6.

vegas-cg-technology“We have thresholds that we’re willing to take risk to,” Simbal explained. “We have a general idea about how much money we’ll be able to get back on the other side, so we were giving him as much as we could to get us to that number.”

Bettor X’s action helped to boost the amount of money being wagered on the World Series. For instance, CG Technology took $1 million in bets on Game 6 – more than double what they handled for Game 7 of the Cubs-Indians World Series. And it’s little secret why with how much Bettor X was risking around town.

“I remember guys going on runs before, but not to this extent,” said Avello.

Biggest World Series Ever in Terms of Betting

Bettor X wasn’t the only person who made the 2017 World Series a memorable one. Many other people wagered on this event, making it the most heavily-bet World Series of all time.

wynn-sportsbook-world-seriesSportsbooks did their best to adjust odds and try to get equal action on both sides of lines. But some oddsmakers like Avello weren’t always successful.

“I had myself in some really terrific spots, just great, great positions,” Avello said about the Wynn’s lines. “Unfortunately, I didn’t win any of them.”

CG Technology also suffered, losing six-figure amounts on the first six games. Other sportsbooks reported losing millions of dollars over the entire series.

“It was an ugly, ugly World Series,” Avello said.

We won’t know the official betting numbers until the end of November. But it’s likely that tens of millions were bet at Nevada sportsbooks, and much more was wagered at online sportsbooks. Avello said that he’s never seen this much money bet on a World Series in his 30+ years in Vegas.

It’ll definitely be difficult for next year’s World Series to top what happened this year. After all, the perfect storm of events happened, including the mattress deal that created bet hedging along with Bettor X’s massive action.

World Series Gambler Wins $14 Million by Letting Winnings Ride

dogers-game-6The Houston Astros won their first World Series title by beating the LA Dodgers in seven games. But the biggest winner of all may be a mysterious bettor who won $14 million by betting on the World Series.

Sports betting entrepreneur RJ Bell has kept tabs on this gambler and their winnings. And Bell said that the bettor let their winnings ride for the first six games. Even after hitting $8 million in profits, the anonymous person let their payout ride on the Dodgers (-126) winning Game 6.

Bell was very active on Twitter regarding this big winner, giving followers updates along the way. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have many details on the actual person, other than that they live in Eastern Europe and are under 30 years old. Given the anonymity, the bettor has simply become known as “Sir Let It Ride.”

Vegas lines were allegedly flipped as soon as Sir Let It Ride walked into a casino before Game 6. For example, he went into South Point Hotel Casino to find Houston as a -107 favorite and the Dodgers at +100.

But South Point officials quickly changed LA’s line to -150 to avoid losing as much money in case he won (which he did). Sir Let It Ride placed $250k on the Dodgers, and the odds were returned to their original state after he left.

This part of the story has sparked a war of words between Bell and Brent Musburger that’s still going on.

Scary Game 6 for Sir Let It Ride

It seemed like Sir Let It Ride might lose $8 million on his Game 6 Dodgers bet. The Astros’ George Springer hit a solo home run, and Houston starting pitcher Justin Verlander was doing great.

However, LA touched up Verlander for two runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 2-1 lead. The Dodgers’ bullpen then played their best of the season to pitch four shutout innings and force a Game 7. The end result is that Sir Let It Ride built his winnings to $14 million with the LA victory.

Walking Away in Game 7

south-point-sportsbookAfter letting his winnings ride for six straight games, the big question is whether or not the bettor would risk everything once again. However, he chose not to put the $14 million back on the line and instead walked away.

While this may not have been the media’s favorite move, it was the smart thing to do. And this is one of the biggest sports betting wins that we’ve heard of.

Bell tweeted that Sir Let It Ride isn’t a regular in Vegas. In fact, the only betting history he has in Sin City includes a few big wagers on the UFC. And Bell’s tweet indicates that he’s done very well in this arena too.

Pure Luck or Genius?

It’s hard to win 55% of your bets, let alone go 6-for-6 in one of the world’s largest sporting events. That said, it’s a wonder if this bettor simply went on an incredibly lucky streak or if they’re some kind of prodigy.

Odds are that this person wouldn’t be able to duplicate this streak in the World Series again if they were given 100 tries. But they still have a talent when considering both their World Series and UFC results.

Baseball Odds: 4 Predictions for Second Half of 2017

aaron-judge-yankeesThe MLB season is halfway over, meaning many teams are gearing up for a second-half playoff push.

Some clubs like the LA Dodgers and Houston Astros are shoo-ins for division titles. Others like the Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers must work to keep their leads. Can these teams hold on and win their divisions?

Then there’s the matter of MVP. Moreover, will rookie Aaron Judge take the AL MVP? Let’s answer these questions and more as we discuss second-half MLB predictions.

1. Tampa Bay will Top Boston in AL East

tampa-bay-rays-2017-champsThe Boston Red Sox are in good shape in the AL East right now. They’re 10 games above .500 (51-41) and hold a 2.5-game lead in their division. Nevertheless, we don’t see Boston taking home the crown.

Instead, we believe that the Tampa Bay Rays will chase down the Sox and win the East. Why can the 49-44 Rays win?

Going into the All-Star break, Kevin Cash’s team had won 14 of its last 17 series. They also seem to be playing better and better as the year goes along.

One reason for the Rays strong play is their offense. Even with Evan Longoria not having his greatest season ever (.267/13 HR), this team has the AL’s third-best slugging percentage. Corey Dickerson (.312/17 HR) and Logan Morrison (.257/26 HR) have had better seasons than anybody imagined.

The thing holding Tampa Bay back is their rotation, which has been average so far. But this could change since Brad Boxberger is healthy again, and Futures Game MVP Brent Honeywell is available for call-up any time. Bullpen help before the trade deadline could really push the Rays forward.

Of course, the Sox have the most talent and best chance to win. But will they venture further into luxury tax territory to upgrade at the deadline?

Then there’s the Yankees (47-42), who also have a chance to win. However, they’ve been hesitant to look for solutions in their farm system, and have only made low-cost moves.

Odds are that the AL East race stays tight until the end. In this scenario, we believe that Tampa Bay can win the division, or at least maintain their current Wild Card spot.

GTBets AL Pennant Odds:
Boston Red Sox +290
New York Yankees +850
Tampa Bay Rays +2500

2. Brewers will Hold onto NL Central Lead

As we’ve covered, the World Series champion Chicago Cubs (46-45) aren’t doing so hot right now. And everybody keeps waiting for them to turn the corner and overtake the Milwaukee Brewers (52-46).

After all, nobody could’ve envisioned Chicago – winner of 103 games last season – not making the postseason this year.

But here we are and in mid-July, and Milwaukee still has a comfortable 4.5-game lead in the Central. Leading the Cubs this late in the year has given the Brewers confidence. And this confidence can likely lead to a division title thanks a solid all-around team.

A 45-plus run differential tells us everything we need to know about how well this team is playing. Furthermore, it’s not like Milwaukee has just gotten lucky either. They’ve had seven extra-inning losses, making us think that they actually deserve better luck.

What’s impressive is that this has happened with Ryan Braun mostly out. If they get Braun healthy for a long stretch, then their already power-packed lineup will excel even more.

GTBets NL Pennant Odds:
Chicago Cubs +360
Milwaukee Brewers +1200

3. The Cleveland Indians will Dominate the AL Central

corey-kluber-indiansThis is the biggest prediction we’re making because the Cleveland Indians (47-43) are only 1.5 games ahead of the Minnesota Twins (46-45). The Kansas City Royals (45-45) are also in the thick of things.

But there’s reason to believe that the Tribe can accelerate in the second half and earn a short at World Series redemption.

Cleveland got off to a poor start, amid lineup struggles and a terrible home record. This combination has enabled the Twins and Royals to hang around – with the latter giving their 2015 championship roster one last chance.

We expect separation, though, because Indians’ staff aces Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber will eventually get things straightened out.

Danny Salazar is making adjustments in the minor leagues and will be back. Then there’s Trevor Bauer, who’s in the process of simplifying his pitches. Assuming the staff comes together, then we’ll see a much-different Indians squad moving forward.

We also think that the stats bear some mind here. Cleveland is the only AL Central team with a positive run differential. This is impressive considering that the Indians have yet to iron out their rotation. Long story short, expect Cleveland to win the Central by 8-10 games.

GTBets AL Pennant Odds:
Cleveland Indians +333
Kansas City Royals +1800
Minnesota Twins +2500

4. Aaron Judge won’t Win the AL MVP

Nobody has created more excitement this season than New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge.

The 6’7″, 282-pound outfielder has hit .313, slammed 30 home runs, and tallied 66 RBIs. It’s as impressive a rookie season as we’ve seen in over a decade. The only catch…it won’t result in an MVP award.

One problem is that only two rookies have won the award (Fred Lynn in 1975; Ichiro Suzuki in 2001). This alone shows that the odds are against Judge.

But what if he breaks the rookie home run record (Mark McGwire, 49 in 1987) as it looks like he’s going to do? And what if he adds the rookie walks record (Ted Williams, 107 in 1939)?

If so, then this could be the greatest rookie season ever. But the question is if he can maintain his pace as the season heads towards the 100-game mark. Judge has never played more than 131 baseball games in a season. This means he’ll likely be dealing with fatigue as we move forward.

Then there’s the Yankees themselves. With a 47-42 record, they currently hold a Wild Card slot. But they’re in a tight division race with the Boston Red Sox (51-41) and Tampa Bay Rays (49-44) and could easily relinquish their playoff position. If the Yankees don’t make it, then we don’t see Judge earning MVP honors.

What’s more is that the AL has a number of other MVP candidates, including the Indians’ Jose Ramirez, Anaheim’s Mike Trout, Baltimore’s Chris Sale, and one of several Houston Astros. Our bet is that Judge fades and one of the Astros separates from their teammates to win.

But we certainly wouldn’t mind seeing Judge continue his outstanding season and become the first rookie to win the award since Ichiro.