Justin Verlander and the Tigers are -180 favorites against the Yankees tonight, which means someone betting on Detroit would have to risk $180 to win $100 and for that bet to be profitable the Tigers would have to win 65 percent of the time.
That got me thinking about the last time the Yankees were such heavy underdogs, so I put out the bat-signal for my favorite gambling-related tweeter, Jacob Wheatley-Schaller from Vegas Watch, and he came through with the info.
There were a few times this season when the Yankees were fairly close to -180 underdogs, including a pair of matchups against Verlander and the Tigers, but they haven’t been -180 or higher underdogs this whole year.
So when was the last time the Yankees were bigger than -180 underdogs?
The final game of the 2011 season, against David Price and the Rays, when the Yankees had the division title wrapped up and started rookie Dellin Betances in one of those “Johnny Wholestaff” games. Tampa Bay was a -220 favorite needing a win to get into the playoffs, 11 different pitchers appeared in the game for New York, and the Rays won 8-7 in 12 innings.
Also known as “The Dan Johnson Game.”
Obviously tonight is basically the opposite circumstances, but it does show just how rare it is for the Yankees to be huge underdogs even for a single game.
Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.
It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.
At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”
Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.