Kim Klement, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Ryan Yarbrough
The 2019 MLB season begins on Wednesday morning (5:35 a.m. ET) with the Japan Opening Series between Oakland and Seattle.
The New York Yankees (+500) are the current World Series favorites with the Houston Astros (+600), Boston Red Sox (+700) and Los Angeles Dodgers (+700) not too far behind.
As far as player-based futures, Mike Trout is even money to win the American League MVP Award with Mookie Betts (+500), Aaron Judge (+1000), Alex Bregman (+1800) and Jose Ramirez (+2000) rounding out the top five.
In the National League, the Phillies’ shiny new toy, Bryce Harper (+500), is the favorite to win MVP with Nolan Arenado (+600), Paul Goldschmidt (+800), Kris Bryant (+1200) and Manny Machado (+1800) right behind him.
As for as the Cy Young Awards, Max Scherzer (+250), Jacob deGrom (+350) and Aaron Nola (+600) lead the way in the National League and Chris Sale (+200), Corey Kluber (+350) and Luis Severino (+800) top the odds in the American League.
Here are The Action Network’s favorite player-based future bets for 2019:
Chris Sale under 260.5 strikeouts
Last year, I took Chris Sale under 279.5 strikeouts and was feeling pretty stupid when he had 188 at the All Star break.
Luckily, he hardly pitched in the second half of the season due to shoulder issues and ended with 237 whiffs in 158 innings – which comes out to a crazy 13.5 K/9. I think his best days are behind him, though, and I’m a Red Sox fan.
A couple weeks away from his 30th birthday, Sale’s gangly build may be catching up to him. In each of his two seasons with Boston, he’s had a troublesome second half of the season.
Last year, he was averaging between 97 and 98 mph with the heater before his shoulder inflammation, but was between 92 and 94 after returning. He was eased into action in Spring Training this year, reaching only the lower-90’s in his first start.
A combination of a lower K/9 and questionable health leaves me doubting his ability to go over this lofty total. Plus, you have to consider the fact that the Red Sox will be very cautious with him to preserve him for the postseason, which will mean missed starts and potentially trips to the DL if he’s having any type of discomfort.