Shortened MLB Season Starts Thursday, ‘Extremely Tough’ to Handicap, Says BetMGM’s Main

Posted on: July 22, 2020, 10:33h. 

Last updated on: July 23, 2020, 10:42h.

Major League Baseball finally gets underway Thursday, nearly four months after play was supposed to begin.

MLB baseball 2020
Social distancing wasn’t a thing yet when the Washington Nationals won the World Series last year in Houston. On Thursday, they host a team favored to win it this year, the New York Yankees, to start the 2020 MLB season. (Image: CBS Sports)

The Washington Nationals, the defending World Series champion, will host the New York Yankees, a favorite to win it all this year. They get the season started with a 7 p.m. ET game. The nightcap features another Series favorite, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who host the rival San Francisco Giants.

COVID-19 has drastically altered how the game will be played this year. For starters, the season lasts just 60 games instead of 162. In addition, we’ll now see (if you’re like me, thankfully) the designated hitter in the National League. We’ll also see runners on base to start extra innings in an attempt to keep teams from busting pitching staffs in extra-long affairs.

The new rules and uncertainty with COVID-19 will make this “an extremely tough” season to handicap, according to David Main, BetMGM’s head of US sports trading.

“I’m expecting there to be some fairly significant price movements on the games each day around player news,” Main told

The shortened pre-season presents its own challenges in getting players up to full fitness, and with the compacted season schedule and not much chance for players to recover between games, I suspect we will see a few players getting injured or rested each day, which will impact prices,” Main continued. “Not to mention that impact a positive COVID-19 test may have on a team, particularly if multiple players test positive.”

Bettors are flocking to the Yankees, who are the co-favorites with the Dodgers at +375 to win the World Series. BetMGM has written the most tickets on the Bronx Bombers, but the book has taken more money on Los Angeles. The Yankees have the second-highest handle, but the Tampa Bay Rays are third. Main said their initial odds of +3000 attracted early interest. The Rays are now available at +2000.

In terms of tickets written, after the Yanks, it’s the New York Mets, followed by the Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, and the Chicago White Sox.

White Sox, Royals, and Reds Trendy Picks

BetMGM is currently available in New Jersey, Nevada, Indiana, Colorado, West Virginia, Michigan, and Mississippi. The latter two are retail only. The sportsbook has more than 160 wagering opportunities available on MLB.

Main told the trendiest selections are three total wins bets.

So far, 100 percent of the bettors on the White Sox regular-season win total have bet over 31.5. Bettors like that Chicago’s other team has made upgrades from last year, including the additions of All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal and Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Dallas Keuchel.

Last year, the Kansas City Royals went 59-103, but bettors like their chances to win 25 times this season, as 100 percent of bettors in that market have picked the over, which started at 23.5 and has since been bumped up to 24.5.

It’s not unanimous for Cincinnati, but 95 percent of BetMGM bettors like the additions of free-agent bats Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos to go with a starting rotation that might just be the best from top-to-bottom in the National League. The total wins for the Reds is set at 32.5.

New Specials for Upcoming Season

New this year for BetMGM, the sportsbook is offering more pre-game player specials. Main added that they’re also creating pre-packaged parlays to help bettors with quicker selections. Once the game starts, bettors can track the game, as the app now features data visualization, statistics, and in-game commentary

Each week, bettors also can “hit for the cycle” by placing a $10 pre-game bet, a $10 two-leg parlay, a $10 three-leg parlay, and a $10 in-game wager, and receive a $20 free bet. Bettors can claim the special once a week, and all four bets must have odds of -200 or longer.

BetMGM is also offering regional new customer specials in select markets. If a new customer bets a $1 on a specific game and a player for either team in that game hits a home run, the bettor will receive $100 in free bets. Check the app or for the game in your particular market.