Phillies odds to win division

Updated odds for Phillies to win division, Aaron Nola to win Cy Young

Halfway into the season, there’s been no let-up with Aaron Nola. He continues to pitch like an ace nearly every time out, and through 17 starts he’s 10-2 with a 2.48 ERA and .205 opponents’ batting average.

In Bovada’s latest odds update Monday, Nola is fourth in NL Cy Young odds at 8/1.

He trails only heavy favorite Max Scherzer (1/6), Jacob deGrom (3/1) and Jon Lester (7/1).

After Nola, nobody else in the NL has better than 40/1 odds.

One of the most amazing aspects of Nola’s season has been that he’s allowed just six home runs in 109 innings and two in 56 innings at homer-friendly Citizens Bank Park. His rate of 0.5 home runs per nine innings is the best in the National League.

NL East odds

Interestingly, the Nationals are still the favorite to win the division despite being six games behind the Braves and three behind the Phillies. Vegas still believes in the talent on Washington’s roster, even if the lineup has been a major disappointment.

The Nats are 10/11 to win the NL East, the Braves are 2/1 and the Phillies are 13/4. For the Phils, it’s a slight upgrade over their 15/4 odds on June 1.

World Series odds

Lastly, the Phils are 25/1 to win the World Series. When the season began, they were 75/1.

It’s an interesting number considering the Mariners are also 25/1 despite being 7½ games better than the Phils. It speaks to how much tougher the AL looks this season than the NL.

More on the Phillies

Why aren’t major-leaguers in the Olympics? There’s more than meets the eye

Why aren’t major-leaguers in the Olympics? There’s more than meets the eye

Earlier this week, Bryce Harper called it “dumb” and “a travesty” that major-leaguers do not compete in the Olympics while on Barstool’s Starting 9 podcast.

“It is such a travesty to me — I’m not saying this as disrespect to minor-leaguers — the (2021) Olympics are in Tokyo, and you’re not sending big-league guys? Are you kidding me?” Harper asked rhetorically. “You wanna grow the game as much as possible and you’re not gonna let us play in the Olympics because you don’t wanna cut out on money for a two-week period? Like, OK, that’s dumb.”

The way Harper described the situation made it seem like common sense that the best baseball players in the world should be representing their countries in the Summer Games. But there’s more than meets the eye with this issue. Jim Salisbury and I discussed on Friday’s Phillies Talk podcast.

Jim: My reaction is kind of . layered, I have several reactions. One, MLB understands the importance of promoting the game worldwide, that’s why they partnered in founding and developing the World Baseball Classic, which American-born big-leaguers are very lukewarm to. They don’t even consider it much of an event as shown by their reluctance to participate. What about the WBC? Maybe show that level of passion for the WBC and you’d have what you’re looking for there.

Corey: But worldwide, the WBC doesn’t have the same allure as the Olympics.

Jim: I would definitely agree with that but they’re trying to promote the game worldwide. I just thought the WBC was founded, one of the reasons, because they want to unlock China 50 years from now as a talent base. China could help drive some huge revenues if you get fans there to fall in love with the game as they have with basketball. It’s a future market. The Olympics are very tough. And I hope [major-leaguers] are in the Olympics because I’m all for promoting the game worldwide as much as possible and I agree, they should be in the Olympics as a promotion vehicle.

It’s just very, very hard to send your big-leaguers to the summer Olympics because you know, you’re talking shutting down or losing marquee guys for three weeks of the big-league schedule. Though owners are in favor of the WBC because it’s a promotional vehicle, I don’t know that they want to lose a Bryce Harper for three weeks. I don’t think you can take him off of a team for three weeks, it would really hurt that team. I just think it’s very difficult to do in terms of scheduling. You can’t shut down the big leagues for three weeks because you think you’re gonna grow the game in the future in the Olympics. You’re gonna lose those revenues at the moment and those revenues help you pay the marquee guys. It’s a real Catch-22. You want to promote your game at the Olympics but it’s tough to send your top guys.

Hey, look, it would be great. I covered the Salt Lake Olympics in ’02 and I was assigned to the hockey tournament. That’s all I covered, my hotel was right next to the arena, I walked there every day and I watched unbelievably great hockey. The reason it was great hockey was because the NHL sent all its top players. Lemieux was there, Roenick was there, Chelios, Matt Sundin was playing for Sweden. I saw these great, great players. But the NHL shut down. I’m sure it’s a give and take. Did the NHL take a hit? Probably. Was it worth it? I don’t know, because I don’t think they do that quite as extensively anymore.

It’s a tough call. I really admire [Harper’s] passion for promoting the game. It really tells you a little bit about Bryce Harper that, you know, he’s a ballplayer but he’s got that kind of business mind. I think his heart is in the right place, I just think it’s going to be tough to pull off.

Corey: Would a compromise work if baseball did shut down for three weeks in the middle of the season and just extended it by three weeks at the end? You could start earlier to have those additional three weeks still be in decent weather.

Jim: I just think it would be hard. The Olympics are typically July, August. Your pennant races are taking shape, your trade deadline. You have over 700 players. You’re gonna be sending maybe 32 to the Olympics, 35. What about the rest of the players? Are they supposed to shut down for three weeks and then start back up? And what if Aaron Nola participates and takes a ball off the kneecap that affects the rest of his major-league season? I just think there’s a lot going on there.

Hey, always, the dollar sign rules the day. If they think they can make money off of this and not lose money while promoting the game, then it would be great. I just think there are a lot of challenges.

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