The same cast of characters are atop the MLB odds to win the 2022 World Series as we enter the final week of the first half of the regular season ahead of next Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles: The Yankees (+330), Dodgers (+360) and Astros (+460) lead the way. As they should.
Updated World Series Odds 2022
But could the Baltimore Orioles be a good bet at +32000? Are the Orioles likely to win the Fall Classic? No, but they are playing as well as anyone right now and at that price it might be worth a few dollars down.
Over the weekend, the Birds swept a four-game home set vs. the Angels. Baltimore has won eight in a row to get to 43-44 and is now in Wild-Card contention. The Orioles had not won eight consecutive games in a season since April 22 to May 1, 2005, though they won 12 straight across two seasons in late 2015 and early 2016.
Three wins amid this streak — their longest of any kind since they won 12 in a row between September 2015 and April 2016, and their longest within a single season since April 22-May 1, 2005 — have been walk-offs, making it all the more captivating. Only Sunday’s win was by a margin greater than three runs. A victory Tuesday vs. the Cubs would create the team’s first nine-game winning streak since they won 13 in a row in September 1999.
“I’ve been waiting for a week like this for a long time, for most of my career,” said designated hitter Trey Mancini, who broke into the majors with Baltimore in 2016. “It’s something that I certainly don’t take for granted. We’re just having a really good time in here, playing so well as a team.”
It’s a shocking turnaround for the Orioles, who, after letting Manny Machado walk in free agency before the 2019 season, stripped their roster down to the studs and began the “rebuild.” Their 2018 Opening Day payroll was $148.6 million, 13th highest in the majors (for a team that finished 47–115). In ’19 they slashed that to $80.2 million, 27th highest in the majors. They went 54–108 in ’19, 25–35 in the shortened ’20 season and 52–110 last year.
O’s starting pitchers have a 2.28 ERA in the last 19 games since June 19. That 2.28 starter ERA is the best in MLB over that period while the second-best starter ERA during that stretch belongs to Tampa Bay at 2.66. The staff as a whole has pitched a 2.70 ERA in the last 21 games since June 17, second-best ERA in the AL and third-best ERA in MLB during that period.
Jordan Lyles (5-7, 4.50 ERA) will take the mound for Tuesday’s series opener vs. the Cubs. Lyles will be making his 18th start of the season, 11th on the road, and first against the Cubs. He earned his fifth win of the season on July 7 vs. the Angels, allowing one run on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 6.0+ innings. Lyles has thrown at least 6.0 innings in four straight starts. Tuesday will be his 16th career appearance (10th start) against the Cubs and first since July 13, 2019. He has gone 3-4 with a 5.68 ERA (33 ER/52.1 IP) in his career against the Cubbies.
Baltimore’s recent hot streak creates a dilemma. Outfielder Trey Mancini, who can become a free agent this winter if he declines his $10 million mutual option, has been mentioned for weeks as a potential trade target. But the Orioles could now be inclined to keep him. Veterans Lyles, Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor are Baltimore’s other potential free agents — Lyles has a team option for 2023 — but Mancini is certainly the likeliest to be dealt. GM Mike Ellis didn’t tip his hand about whether the Birds might be sellers or not.
“In this job, everything that I do or that we do has tradeoffs,” Elias said. “And all I can say is we do everything from a very global, very thoughtful perspective about what is the right thing to do for the health of the Orioles franchise, and all that’s being taken into consideration for the draft, but also for the trade deadline coming up, and I don’t know what’s going to happen. What I’m saying is we’re taking a look at everything as we make these decisions, and we’ll see what happens.”