The Empire Slate: Mets Navigating Injuries, NBA Draft Possibilities Abound

Our weekly look at New York sports betting action also explores an oddity in NFC East betting
jacob degrom
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“The Empire Slate” is a weekly look at betting angles and trends involving New York sports.

The Mets might be at an inflection point.

Alone in first place since their sixth game of the season, they built a formidable and impressive 10.5-game lead as of June 1. This month, they’ve dropped six games in the standings while going 11-9 as the Atlanta Braves have romped along at 17-3.

The potential crisis facing the Mets goes far beyond the June records. Of immediate concern is a proliferation of injuries, especially to the starting rotation, which is short four starters with which it entered spring training, assuming the back injury that knocked Carlos Carrasco out of Wednesday’s game lingers for a bit.

If the Mets are to avoid the kind of collapse they’ve been infamous for in recent injury-plagued seasons, the coming few weeks will be crucial.

High-powered upgrades are coming

Provided the Mets can hold on a bit longer, there is help on the way in the form of two of the greatest right-handed pitchers alive. Max Scherzer could slide back into the rotation Sunday after throwing 65 pitches in what was his first (and could prove his only) minor-league rehab start for Double-A Binghamton on Tuesday night.

After that outing, Scherzer quipped to the reporters present, “I want to be in the big leagues, not be a Rumble Pony.”

Jacob deGrom cleared an equally important hurdle the same day 1,200 miles south in Port Saint Lucie, where he faced hitters for the first time since being shut down with a stress reaction in his right scapula on the eve of Opening Day. If Scherzer is a few days from returning, deGrom seems, at most, a couple of weeks away.

A lot of ink will be spilled over the upcoming MLB non-waiver trade deadline, but it seems fair to say no other team will be able to fortify itself by adding pitchers with five Cy Young Awards between them.

To put it another way, this might be the wrong time to cash out your Mets futures bets.

Futures odds fluctuate

When the team signed Scherzer at the end of November, their World Series odds went from +1800 to +1200. After they added Starling Marte and Eduardo Escobar, they pulled alongside the Yankees as the No. 3 choice at +1050. They pulled into second place by May 3 after a 16-8 start.

Now, after weathering the injuries mentioned above, they’re at +750 at most New York mobile sportsbooks, though FanDuel has them at +700, behind the Yankees, Dodgers, and Astros. Those +750 odds imply a probability of the Mets winning the World Series of 11.8%, which seems reasonable given that the Dodgers haven’t been quite as dominant as in recent seasons.

The Mets are on pace to win 103 games, which not only blows their preseason line of 88.5 wins out of the water, but would be their best season since 1986, which Mets fans just might remember fondly.

What will the Knicks do?

NY Online Gambling’s Matt Rybaltowski wrote about a rumor making its way through the NBA that the Knicks are trying to trade up from No. 11 to No. 4 in Thursday night’s NBA Draft in order to land athletic Purdue shooting guard Jaden Ivey.

The bookmakers seem to feel quite confident that’s where he’ll go, judging from the fact Ivey is +900 to be picked third and -210 to be picked fourth. The top three seem pretty well set, with Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith Jr., and Chet Holmgren expected to be taken at the top in some order. (Notably, it is not currently legal to wager on the draft in New York, though some neighboring states allow draft betting.)

But what if the Knicks don’t trade up?

DraftKings lists their likeliest selections as A.J. Griffin (+400), Johnny Davis (+450), and Malaki Branham (+500), with Ivey the fourth choice at +800. If they pivot and go with a big man, Memphis center Jalen Duren is the next choice at +900. That seems like a good price, especially given this ESPN report: “GM Troy Weaver is one of Duren’s biggest fans in the NBA, sources say.”

Barring a trade, the Nets don’t have a first-round pick.

Can the Giants win their division?

Considering the Dallas Cowboys went 12-5 to win the NFC East by three games last season, this tweet from Caesars Sportsbook seemed a bit out of the blue:

The reason the Cowboys haven’t drawn much interest could stem from the fact the sportsbook set their odds too low at +115 (DraftKings, for example, offers them at +130). If you’re wondering about the Giants, who finished eight games behind the Cowboys last year, Caesars has them at +800 and DraftKings is offering them at +900.

Are those reasonable odds? Well, considering +800 translates to an 11.1% chance, those prices seem a bit optimistic. We’ve already noted that we liked the Giants chances of improving after what appeared to be a solid NFL Draft, but that’s a lot of ground to make up in less than 12 months.

Photo: Brad Penner/USA TODAY

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