- Royals' starting staff ranked 21st in MLB with 4.26 ERA
- With 7-2 odds, Royals are favorite over Cardinals and Dodgers
The Kansas City Royals strengthened their position as oddsmakers’ World Series favorites with the acquisition of pitcher Johnny Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds.
The Royals have Major League Baseball’s second-best record at 59-38, yet their starting pitching staff ranks 21st among 30 teams with a 4.26 earned run average. Cueto is a proven ace for the top of their rotation, as the 29-year-old right-hander has gone 60-31 with a 2.51 ERA for the Reds over the past five seasons.
Kansas City, which lost to the San Francisco Giants in last year’s World Series, traded away three prospects for Cueto, the runner-up for the National League’s Cy Young Award last season after winning 20 games and leading the league with 243 2/3 innings-pitched. His arrival has moved to Royals’ championship odds to 7-2 from 4-1, according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
“It’s a better team for now and into the postseason if we make it,” Royals manager Ned Yost said at a news conference. “If we didn’t do this deal, I still would have felt good about this team. But this makes us better.”
Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is July 31 and Cueto is the biggest name to change teams so far. Other top starting pitchers who might be on the market include Cole Hamels, who threw a no-hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend, and 2012 American League Cy Young winner David Price of the Detroit Tigers.
The St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers are second to the Royals with 6-1 odds of winning the World Series, followed by the Washington Nationals at 7-1. All three teams lead their respective divisions in the National League, led by the Cardinals MLB-best 63-35 record in the Central.
The New York Yankees, who have the second-best mark in the American League behind Kansas City at 55-42, have 9-1 odds at the SuperBook of winning their record-extending 28th world championship. Entering the season, the Yankees were tied for 16th at 25-1 odds.
The Los Angeles Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates are given 12-1 odds of winning the World Series, followed by the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros and defending-champion Giants at 16-1. While the Giants have won three World Series titles in the past five years, the Mets won their most recent championship in 1986, the Cubs’ last title was 107 years ago and the Astros have never captured a World Series.
The Royals, beaten by the Giants in seven games a year ago, won their lone World Series title in 1985. Cueto’s arrival boosts their odds of winning a second.
“They do have a great team,” said Cueto, who is 7-6 with a 2.62 ERA in 19 starts this season. “I’m excited about my next chapter. I know they play very good baseball. It’s going to be good for my career and good for the team.”