Givin’ Futures: March Madness & MLB Futures

Tyger Campbell #10 of the UCLA Bruins handles the ball against the Arizona Wildcats during the Pac-12 Conference basketball tournament championship game at T-Mobile Arena on March 12, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Image Credit: Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Joe Musgrove 80/1 to lead MLB in wins.

Let’s start with baseball. Yay! It’s back officially! All these bets are MLB wins not league wins.

Brad: I don’t even look at these bets unless they are at least 40/1. Wins are random. Of course, I want a pitcher who is good and healthy and on a good team. But that doesn’t guarantee you anything. And these guys come out of nowhere. Last year, Julio Urias had the most wins in MLB and was 100/1. In Musgrove, we see a guy who started 32 games. That’s going to be a key with all of these. He pitched 181 innings. 140 hits allowed. And he had a great strikeout total of 203. The league only hit .213 against him. And even with Tatis out for two months, he’s on a Padres team that’s probably going to win 90 games. 

Nathan Eovaldi 80/1.

He is a good pitcher on a good team. I like these odds.

Brad: That’s actually a relief. I was worried you were going to take the other side with this one. I like that you think he’s good. I respect your baseball knowledge. I agree. He just looks good to me. I know he wasn’t supposed to be this good, a guy for consideration for this, but he throws super hard. (And has excellent control – he led the loop in the fewest walks per nine innings at 1.7.) Plus being a righty in Fenway is good. I wish I could take him versus Chris Sale (this was recorded before Sale was announced to have a stress fracture in his rib). I think he’s better than Sale and everyone seems to disagree with that. And again, the common refrain, this is a guy who was a co-leader in starts with 32. That means more than innings. The day of the guy throwing 280 innings is long, long gone. 

Shane Baz 200/1.

I thought he threw about 110 innings last year in the minors but they babied him so he had only 78.2 in the minors and then another 13.1 in the majors (two wins in three starts) and then a bad postseason start (2.1) for 94.1 innings total. But after last year when guys went from pitching at most 60 innings in MLB and none at all in the minors, why can’t Baz climb from 94.1 to 180 and make 32 starts?

Brad: Yeah he should be a mascot of the show. You brought him up last June when no one heard of him, after Tyler Glasnow got hurt. This year, we have him for Rookie of the Year. We have him on super long odds for Cy Young. Now most wins. Look, this is mostly about 200/1. But he’s got filthy stuff. He throws 100 mph with control. The team is excellent and they are so smart that even like last year when you think (or at least I think) they’re bad, they end up being good. Is it possible? That’s all I’m asking. I think it is at 200/1. 

I also think with Baz you get hidden value in that if he pitches the minimum innings in a game and leaves with a lead, the ‘pen is so good in Tampa Bay always that his win probability doesn’t go down much. 

Brad: I agree 100% with this. 

Next up, Jose Berrios 40/1. 

Brad: I don’t think Berrios has had his “career year yet” but he’s durable and consistent. He has not missed a start in three years. This Toronto team is very good (and added maybe the best defender in baseball in Matt Chapman at third base). You know this team is going to score runs. They didn’t get Freddie Freeman or even Kyle Schwarber but they have Vlad, who is the best hitter in baseball arguably, Bo Bichettte, the underrated Teoscar Hernandez – and no weak spot anywhere else. So you have to like their pitchers for this bet.

Another Blue Jay, Kevin Gausman, 50/1.

Brad: Same theory as Berrios. People don’t believe in Gausman, but he was good and the Blue Jays know what they’re doing. (They turn guys around completely. Look at Robbie Ray.) I don’t want to overrate what he’s done. But last year, his 33 starts led baseball. He had 227 Ks. (His road ERA was actually better than home in pitcher-friendly Oracle Park: 2.33 to 3.44.) I’m going to take my chances that he’s for real.

Turning to the NCAA tournament: UCLA 35/1 to win the title.

This is a chase that begins for them at 9:50 EST on Thursday.

Brad: This is one of those bets where you are better off doing the 35/1 than the mechanical parlay as we call it where you just bet every game. I did the math and it’s about 27/1 with the mechanical. Very unusual that this gets inverted but it is. So I just like this straight bet.  Last year, UCLA made the Final Four. But here’s the thing: They’ve got that exact same team back from last year. They didn’t lose anyone. I have people always ask me, “Brad, what’s your best odds with the Final Four.” We’re not trying to find favorites here. We’re trying to find diamonds in the rough (that are better than their odds). And just the mechanical parlay math at 27/1 tells you 35/1 is a great bet. I see them playing Kentucky in the Elite Eight. And I would actually pick Kentucky but as a baby favorite. And Kentucky is like 10/1 versus 35/1 for UCLA. 

For more MLB and NCAA futures from Brad, listen to the full Givin Futures podcast here. You can also subscribe to the podcast and get all of these picks when the podcast is published instead of a day later here.