Max Scherzer returns to the New York Mets on Tuesday. There are still 82 games left in the Mets' season and they're still in first place of the NL East by 3.5 games, even though Scherzer hasn't pitched since May 18.
Mets fans would have signed up for that entire scenario when Scherzer went on the injured list with a strained oblique.
The Mets' standing as division favorites strengthens with Scherzer back (and will get even stronger when Jacob deGrom returns), but that's the big picture. What do bettors do about Scherzer and the Mets on Tuesday?
The Mets are -200 favorites over the Cincinnati Reds at BetMGM. That's a big number for a pitcher who hasn't been on a major-league mound in almost seven weeks. Even if he's a three-time Cy Young winner.
We won't be getting a full Scherzer start, which should be obvious. Via SNY, Scherzer said, "He'll potentially go around six innings and 90 pitches, but it will depend on how he feels." The Mets have a decent bullpen, tied for the 12th-best ERA in MLB, and we might see plenty of it on Tuesday. If Scherzer has one inning in which he has a high pitch count, he could have a really short night. The Mets won't push him and set him back.
Fading Scherzer off the IL seems like a decent play, but that depends on the Reds actually taking advantage of the situation. The Reds are 27-52 this season. They've lost 13 of their last 17. Cincinnati will start rookie Nick Lodolo, who has a 5.52 ERA in three starts. The Mets could be starting a scarecrow on the mound and still should be favored.
It's hard to lay such a big number not knowing exactly what to expect from Scherzer in his return. There will be plenty of other days to back him this season. In a long baseball season, it's always OK to pass.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Tuesday:
A fun MLB afternoon game
There's one game this afternoon in MLB and it's not a bad one. The Seattle Mariners, with exciting young pitcher Logan Gilbert (9-3, 2.66 ERA), face the San Diego Padres. The Mariners won 8-2 on Monday as a +150 favorite. Julio Rodriguez, the AL Rookie of the Year favorite, hit his 15th home run.
The Mariners are +110 underdogs and it seems like a solid spot to take them, even though Padres starter Mike Clevinger has been good coming off injury. I'll be on the Mariners and Gilbert, who has picked up a win in four of his last five starts.
The rest of MLB
The New York Yankees, the biggest draw and best team in baseball, didn't play on July 4 when the sport should have been showcasing itself. That sums up MLB's failures in promoting itself. But the Yankees are back on Tuesday and they're -200 favorites against the Pittsburgh Pirates. If you're a bettor who will lay -200 on a baseball favorite, that seems like a decent spot for it.
An interesting game elsewhere is the Chicago White Sox as a -135 favorite against the first-place Minnesota Twins, who are 5.5 games ahead of Chicago in the AL Central. The White Sox have Michael Kopech on the mound and have the best of the pitching matchup, but the Twins still seem like a decent bet as underdogs. They will start Chris Archer, who they've been using for four or five innings at a time with good success.
What else is on the schedule?
There are eight Champions League qualifying round soccer matches and a couple WNBA games, though neither WNBA game is a great matchup. For the most part, you're stuck with baseball.
What's the best bet?
The Chicago Cubs, despite being a bad team, still seem to be overvalued a bit in the betting market. The Milwaukee Brewers are 14 games ahead of the Cubs in the standings and at home, yet they're just -130 favorites on Tuesday. Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks is still a brand name but he hasn't been good since the start of the 2021 season. Take the Brewers.