By signing Wheeler to this deal, the Phillies look determined to make a run at the World Championship in 2020.
The Phillies just spent big money to improve their starting rotation. Zack Wheeler has signed with Philadelphia for five years and $118 million. Over the past two seasons, the ex-Met righty went 23-15 across 60 starts, 377 innings, with 374 strikeouts.
He did this as New York’s fourth starter, after previously missing two seasons to Tommy John surgery. Now 29 years old, Wheeler can pile up strikeouts, and was worth 7.4 WAR over the past two seasons. But will all of that move the needle for sports bettors looking to put money on the Phillies to win the World Series in 2020?
MLB Futures Roundup: Phillies World Series Odds
The Futures ‘needle’ was moved, at least at most of the top legal US sports betting sites. The Phillies opened up in Vegas as +1400 ($100 to win $1400) if they win the championship in 2020. As of today, the Phils are trending lower at most places. We shopped the odds to find the best value left on the board.
The leanest payouts right now are at Unibet PA, Unibet NJ, SugarHouse, and DraftKings who have Philadelphia 6th among all teams at +1400. Actually, that’s a significant move from +2000.
NL East rivals Atlanta and Washington rank ahead, 4th and 5th, with payouts of +1100 and +1200. Meanwhile, New York ranks 10th with a +2000 payout. When it comes to winning the National League, the Phillies rank 4th, with a +700 payout.
Caesars has the Phillies with a slightly better +1800 payout. Meanwhile, Atlanta and Washington are +1300 and +1600, respectively, while New York rounds out the division at +2000.
The best payout, though, belongs to PointsBet. Surprisingly, they have the Phillies ranked 11th to win it all, holding at the opening number +2000. The Braves and Nationals rank 5th and 6th, both with +1200 payouts. The Mets rank 13th, with a +2500 payout.
Reactions from the media:
In its analysis of the signing, The Ringer notes that Wheeler’s past performance isn’t worth his price tag. That price looms larger if ownership wants to stay under the competitive balance tax threshold. If so, the signing would hamper their financial freedom to sign other big-money players at positions of need. However, Michael Baumann writes that Wheeler’s acquisition appears to be a gamble that he can improve on his New York numbers with a move to #2 starter behind staff ace, Aaron Nola:
“The Phillies need Wheeler, a pitcher with an established big league track record, to jump up a weight class and perform at that level for multiple years. The Astros managed to get that kind of leap out of Cole and Charlie Morton (who went to Houston as a free agent after one abysmal and injury-plagued season in Philadelphia). So did the Red Sox, once upon a time, with Rick Porcello, and the Blue Jays with Marco Estrada. It could happen.”
However, Baumann goes on to note that the last Phillies pitcher with Wheeler’s career blueprint to make such a developmental leap was Curt Schilling. Obviously, history isn’t on Zack’s side. So, what impact will he have on Philadelphia’s future? Former MLB front office exec David Samson expressed skepticism in his Nothing Personal podcast, as transcribed by CBS Sports:
“What if the signing of Zack Wheeler three years from now, you’re paying him $23.6 million…you haven’t gotten a ring or been back to the playoffs since the Girardi/Wheeler/Harper era began. Except now you’re stuck with him. How do you all feel about Jake Arrieta?”
Samson had more to say about that big annual salary:
“$23.6 million tells me you’re going to like Wheeler this year… But you’re not going to like him for what you want him to be. You’re going to have to like him for what he is.
What he is is a nice number three or four starter that goes behind aces. The Mets rotation was good because they had Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.”
Sports Illustrated’sTom Verducci pinpoints the key change necessary to elevating Wheeler’s game: more seams. Specifically, following the very successful example of Gerrit Cole, and emphasizing a four-seam fastball, rather than a two seamer:
“When the Astros acquired Gerrit Cole, they took away his two-seamer and turned him into a four-seam monster. Their metrics showed the two-seamer just wasn’t a good enough pitch for Cole and that he had the velocity and spin to live off his four-seamer… Now Zack Wheeler might benefit from the same kind of change in pitch repertoire.
“I’m curious what new Phillies pitching coach Bryan Price will do with Philadelphia’s new $118 million pitcher. Do they leave him alone? Or do they take the approach the Astros did with Cole and help him get to the next level?”
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