Gerrit Cole Yankees Return

Gerrit Cole’s Return Will Take Yankees To New Level

The Yankees are already very, very good.

They’re currently the best team in a crowded AL East and have the most wins in all of baseball. MVP-level seasons from Juan Soto and Aaron Judge help, but the most impressive part is the Yankees have done this without their top pitcher: Gerrit Cole. Now, Cole is coming back from injury to start Wednesday's game against the Orioles, and the ace's return could take the Yankees to new heights.

I’ll break down what Cole’s return means and why the Yankees are now my best World Series bet:

Current Yankees Odds

  • World Series Odds: +450 (Opened at +1600)
  • AL East Odds: -350 (Opened +180)
  • Playoff Odds: N/A (-250)
  • Win Total: O/U 103.5 Wins (O/U 91.5)

The Yankees have outperformed expectations in a big way. After a disappointing 82-win season last year, books expected a big jump from New York — but not this big. Their win total has gone up over 10, New York's playoff odds are such a lock they're not even available at most sportsbooks anymore, and the Bronx Bombers are now second in World Series odds.

Even still, I think there's more room for growth in New York (meaning there's still some betting value).

What Gerrit Cole's Yankees Return Means

The Yankees currently have the lowest team ERA in MLB (3.02) and the best rotation ERA, too (2.90). Now, they get to add a guy who won the AL Cy Young last year and has been the most reliable pitcher in baseball for the last five seasons — that's scary.

But, Cole’s return does more than just add another good starter to the mix. It offers them a few privileges. 

For one, they can now survive a short-term injury to Carlos Rodon (a SP2 who’s had his ailments in the past) or any other starter. And, it allows them to ease off a bit on rookie phenom Luis Gil.

Gil has come out of nowhere to be New York’s best starter so far this year (2.03 ERA, 9-1 record). The Yanks will want Gil to be able to pitch in the playoffs, but he’s already up to 80 innings pitched this year after firing only four (yes four) all of last season. The most innings he’s pitched at any level in his career is 96. They can skip some Gil starts or put him on a 4-5 inning max with Cole back, saving some of the rookie’s bullets for games that actually matter.

How Should We Bet The Yankees Going Forward?

So, the Yankees are the best team in baseball and Cole’s return should help them get even better. But, what does this do for you? New York’s AL East odds (-350) and win total (over 103.5 wins) don’t provide much value, but there’s still one trick in our bags. The best way to bet these Yankees is to take the biggest swing: in World Series odds.

With Cole back in the mix, this Yankees squad is built for playoff success. When I look for teams that win in October, it’s squads that have three elite starting pitchers and a few bats who can get incredibly hot.

A rotation of Cole/Rodon/Gil (or even Stroman) meets that pitching standard, and there’s no lineup with more heat potential than one featuring Soto and Judge. We’ve even seen secondary guys like Anthony Volpe, Alex Verdugo, and Gleyber Torres have their torrid runs this year.

If you have some political or emotional opposition to betting the Yankees to win the World Series (I don't blame you) there's one other market that's catching my eye:

New York To Have MLB's Best Record

A few MLB sportsbooks have a market up right now for which team will finish the regular season with the league's best record. The Yankees (-125) currently edge out the Dodgers (+260) for the top spot in those odds, but I still like that New York value.

Despite playing in the strong AL East, the Yankees 'only' have the 12th-hardest remaining schedule in baseball, with a .503 win rate for their remaining opponents. The Dodgers have the fourth-easiest, which may make it seem like Los Angeles is the smart value play here. But, this is a Dodgers squad that just lost key SP Yoshinobu Yamamoto and OF Mookie Betts to lengthy injuries. With Cole back in the Bronx, give me New York to snag MLB's best record.

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