It may seem kind of odd to refer to betting on the defending World Series champs in that fashion. But with the type of season the Red Sox have had to date, there hasn’t been much of a reason to bet on them. You certainly can’t consider them a favorite anymore.

However, if there is one team with longer odds that is worth taking a shot on, it is the Boston Red Sox. Fans had high hopes for them entering the 2019 season, but a disastrous start (13-17 through April) put a damper on dreams of a repeat World Series title real quick.

It seemed like nothing was going right for them this season (while everything went right for them last season. When that happens, even the best teams, regardless of the talent level on the squad, lose games.

Lose enough of them and oddsmakers and fans lose faith resulting in relatively short odds becoming long ones.

Boston began the season as one of the top three teams in the AL with a legitimate chance to defend their World Series title. Their odds of winning it again shortly after the end of the 2018 Series were +640.

But as of July 15, their odds are more in line with a fringe contender than a legitimate one (+2800 via FanDuel).

They now have just the third-best World Series odds in their own division behind the Yankees (+350) and Tampa Bay Rays (+2400). With that being the case, why would anyone in their right mind even consider taking a flyer on them?

Because they have slowly and quietly been playing better and better baseball.

Heading into Monday night’s action, they stand on top of the league in runs scored with 523 (tied with Minnesota). They are tied with the Twins for the highest batting average (.271), rank sixth in slugging .461), and fourth in OPS (.805).

Mookie Betts leads baseball in runs scored (80), and two other Red Sox players are tied for fourth with 71 (Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts). Bogarts is also fourth in RBIs with 71 and Devers has the fifth-highest batting average in baseball (.325).

The only thing they aren’t doing really well on the offensive side is hit home runs. Prior to Monday’s games, they ranked 12th in the league with 137. That is not what is holding them back, though. No, the issue has been their pitching.

For the season, the staff as a whole ranks 17th in ERA (4.57), 5th in batting average allowed (.250), and are 15th when it comes to WHIP (1.34). The WHIP isn’t too different from last season’s (1.25) and the batting average allowed isn’t drastically different either (.237)

But the ERA is—3.75 (8th best in baseball).

The acquisition of Andrew Cashner should help. In his last five starts for the Orioles, he allowed just five earned runs dropping his ERA down to 3.83. But if they are going to have a real shot at postseason glory, Chris Sale is going to have to get his act together. Last season he had a 2.11 ERA; so far this season it is over double that at 4.27.

However, at 50-43, they are not entirely out of the division race, but they are in third and ten games back. They are in good shape for a wild card spot, though (2.5 games back). If they can keep the offense on track and get the pitching where it needs to be, they could cause some waves come playoff time.

Should they catch the Yankees and Astros having bad weeks, they might make it back to the World Series.

So—should you take a flyer on them? Sure, why not? At +2800 you will not need to bet much to get a great payoff. Should they lose—eh, good thing you didn’t bet much.

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