The Bronx Bombers made a bet that Anthony Rizzo would ignite their dormant offense, and their wager is already paying off in a big way.
Rizzo, one of the three players acquired by the Yankees at the trade deadline, made an immediate impact over the weekend. The 31-year-old first baseman homered Friday and Saturday. He also delivered a game-tying RBI single Sunday, as the Bombers went on to sweep the Marlins.
After GM Brian Cashman traded for Rizzo, outfielder Joey Gallo, and depth starter Andrew Heaney, the Yankees’ futures odds of winning the World Series rose from +2,500 to +2,200, according to BetMGM (NJ). They also went from +1,400 to +1,000 to win the AL pennant, and +1,300 to +1,100 to capture the AL East.
Updated betting odds on the 2021 Yankees
Here is a look at the best odds for the AL pennant currently at New Jersey online sportsbooks; NY sports betting apps are not yet available, but there is retail betting at brick and mortar casinos:
The surging Bombers (56-48) are 2 1/2 games behind the Athletics for the second AL wild-card spot. After proving to be a massive disappointment as the July 30 deadline approached, many wondered if the Yankees would become sellers. But that approach simply isn’t in the team’s DNA, and the Bombers didn’t have many attractive trade chips anyway.
So Cashman, in do or die mode, added two impact left-handed bats, strengthening and providing some diversification to a formerly right-handed heavy lineup. The Bombers still rank 25th in the majors in runs scored, but the early returns on the moves are promising. They open up a crucial seven-game homestand on Monday against the Orioles.
Evaluators high on Yankees’ pickups
Even though the Yankees had received a lack of production from first base and left field, Rizzo and Gallo both seemed out of reach. The hated Red Sox were also pursuing Rizzo. Meanwhile, the Rangers appeared to want a massive haul for Gallo, who is under contract through next season.
But Cashman was stunningly able to add both players without surrendering any of the organization’s top prospects. In fact, one rival executive who spoke to Catena Media referred to the Gallo trade as “a heist.” “They didn’t give up much for him,” the executive said of Gallo, 27. “He should be playing center for them. He’s a plus defender. He’s got a ton of power. Sure, he’ll strike out a lot but he’ll also take his walks.”
Team sources were also pleased with the addition of Rizzo. As one Yankee evaluator put it, “Rizzo obviously impacts us offensively, but also upgrades our entire infield and should get our pitchers out of innings quicker. Plus, he’s got great makeup and recent championship experience (in 2016).”
Going into the 2021 season, the Bombers felt they’d assembled a roster worthy of contending for the franchise’s 28th championship. But owner Hal Steinbrenner‘s insistence that his team remain under the $210 million luxury-tax threshold forced some risky decision-making that backfired. Injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak have certainly taken their toll. But all the baserunning mistakes and high-leverage bullpen meltdowns were self-inflicted wounds, putting manager Aaron Boone on the hot seat.
Still, the Aaron Judge-led Bombers suddenly have a real shot at reaching October. Much of that will come down to No. 1 starter Gerrit Cole and the rest of the pitching staff. The Yankees are going to need injured starters Luis Severino and Corey Kluber to provide quality innings, which is no guarantee.
Across town, hope and consternation
Somehow, the Yankees actually have a better record than the first-place Mets (55-49). But fortunately for the Amazins, they don’t have Boston and Tampa in their division.
The Mets are still favored to win the NL East, coming in at -303 as of Monday, according to BetMGM. They’re also +1,000 to win the Fall Classic.
GM Zack Scott added power bat Javy Baez at the deadline. Baez also just so happens to be best friends with $341 million man Francisco Lindor. Lindor is working his way back from an oblique injury, but the duo has a chance to be dynamic while manning shortstop and second base.
Ultimately, the Amazins’ hopes of capturing the division and making a run at the pennant rest on the health of superstar Jacob deGrom. DeGrom (forearm) just had a setback in his rehab and will be shut down for two weeks.