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.
Even while injured, Miguel Cabrera is a force to be reckoned with. The 33-year-old slugger has been playing with a contusion on his knee since Wednesday, according to postgame comments made by Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus.
That didn’t stop him from whacking a 410-foot home run against Atlanta right-hander Matt Wisler on Friday night, skirting the center field fence to put the Tigers up 3-0 in the first inning. In the third, he lead off the inning with another long drive off of Wisler, targeting his changeup for a 421-foot shot, his 38th home run of the season:
It’s Cabrera’s sixth two-run homer game since the start of the season, and his first against the Braves since 2005. He needs just two more home runs to keep an even 40 on the year, which would return him to the kind of league-leading levels that accentuated his MVP case in 2012 and 2013. If he can do it by the end of this Tigers-Braves game (unlikely, but not unheard of), he’ll be the 15th major leaguer to hit four home runs in a single game.
The Reds will roll with manager Bryan Price for at least one more season. Per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, Price has been extended through the 2017 season with a club option for 2018. He won’t be the only familiar face leading the team, as the Reds have reportedly asked the entire coaching staff to return as well.
This is Price’s second consecutive season with 90+ losses since Cincinnati signed him to a three-year contract back in 2014. While he hasn’t been able to replicate the same kind of success that former skipper Dusty Baker found in 2012 and 2013, he’s been saddled with a team that’s still in the throes of rebuilding, not one that looks on the cusp of playoff contention. It is, after all, the same team that has not seen a healthy season from Homer Bailey since Price’s arrival, one that unloaded Jay Bruce for a pair of prospects earlier this year and one whose pitching staff set a single-season record for most home runs given up by a major league team.
Justifying Price’s extension requires a different kind of yardstick, one that measures player development and individual success over the cumulative win-loss record. Here, Price has overseen solid performances from contributors like Adam Duvall, who is batting .244/.297/.506 with 2.9 fWAR in his first full major-league season, as well as young arms like Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen, among others.
From comments made by Reds’ CFO Bob Castellini, Price’s success within a rough rebuilding process appears to have cemented his place within the club, at least for the time being.
I like the young, aggressive team Walt and Dick have put together with players from within our system and from recent trades. […] Bryan has been here seven seasons now. He’s comfortable with the direction we are heading with our young players, and we are comfortable with him leading us in that direction.