First major challenge for MLB restart as covid outbreak hits Marlins


After relatively smooth sailing for major sports through July restarts amidst the corona virus pandemic, Major League Baseball is dealing with its first big challenge. Four players on the Miami Marlins have tested positive in recent days, including Sunday’s scheduled starting pitcher Jose Urena.

Due to current protocols, Miami will be without Urena, catcher Jorge Alfaro, infielder Garrett Cooper, and outfielder Harold Ramirez until each player shows no symptoms for at least 72 hours, and registers negative on two covid tests at least 24 hours apart.  


More importantly, there’s a danger that other players/coaches/staff on the Marlins, and players/coaches/staff on this past weekend’s opponent. The Philadelphia Phillies have also contracted the virus and will soon test positive. 

Miami announced Sunday it was delaying its flight out of Philadelphia until Monday, scheduling its arrival in Miami hours before a home game vs. Baltimore. This will be a fluid story Monday morning, so be sure to follow VSiN programming throughout the day for updates. 

Initially, observers had two major concerns about the MLB restart. Could players avoid the virus? And, would high-impact stars be more injury prone after an abbreviated “summer” training session. Both issues are now front and center given these injury reports…

  • Clayton Kershaw missed his scheduled start in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ season opener with a stiff back.
  • Steven Strasburg missed his scheduled start for the Washington Nationals with a nerve issue in his throwing hand. 
  • Justin Verlander left Sunday’s start for Houston with a forearm strain. First reports suggested he would miss the rest of the season. Verlander refuted those, hoping a couple of weeks’ rest would solve the issue.
  • Corey Kluber left Sunday’s start for Texas with shoulder tightness.
  • Shohei Otani of the Los Angeles Angels didn’t report any injury issues, but looked rusty while not getting any outs Sunday vs. Oakland. 

Handicapping and betting baseball will continue to be tricky early in the restart. That’s particularly true for recreational bettors who like backing high-priced hurlers who aren’t ready to perform at their best. 

Before we hop to another sport, a quick note that ESPN will have a TV twinbill Monday. Arizona (Luke Weaver) will visit San Diego (Joey Lucchesi) at 4:10 p.m. ET, followed by the New York Mets (Michael Wacha) visiting Boston (Josh Osich) at 7:30 p.m. Monitor the market to check on pitching and odds changes in advance of first pitch. 

Those of you living in the Eastern and Central time zones will have to stay up late. But, what could be the best game in the whole “MLS is Back” tournament is scheduled tonight when favored LAFC takes on the dangerous Seattle Sounders in “Round of 16” action (11 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. in Las Vegas).

LAFC was the projected tournament winner before the event began, but lost any seeding perk with a pair of ties in Group Play. Seattle was on the short list of dangerous threats, and rallied from a slow start to surge into the knockouts with a 3-0 rout of Vancouver. 

LAFC/Seattle is game two of an FS1 twinbill. Kickoff times Eastern. 

San Jose vs. Salt Lake (8:30 p.m., FS1)
Odds to Advance: San Jose -170, Salt Lake plus 150
Three-way: San Jose plus 106, Salt Lake plus 240, draw plus 270
Goal Line: San Jose -0.5 goals (plus 106), Salt Lake plus 0.5 goals (-130)
Over/Under: 2.75 goals (Over -104, Under -118) 

LAFC vs. Seattle (11 p.m., FS1)
Odds to Advance: LAFC -190, Seattle 170
Three-way: LAFC -102, Seattle plus 218, draw plus 307
Goal Line: LAFC -0.5 goals (-102), Seattle plus 0.5 goals (-119)
Over/Under: 3.25 goals (Over -116, Under -105) 

Note that the WNBA is off Monday. We’ll pick back up with action in the “wubble” in our Tuesday report. 

Market expectations are taking shape in the best three-of-five Stanley Cup qualifying rounds that begin this Saturday in Toronto and Edmonton. We’ll post those for you now so you can begin your preliminary handicapping. 

Be on the lookout this week for VSiN’s 2020 Hockey Betting Guide put together by sharp-respected Andy MacNeil (a regular on “A Numbers Game” with Gill Alexander). Andy is scheduled to appear with Gill Monday morning to discuss the publication and the playoffs.  

You may have heard from “pundits” in the past that overall series prices in the playoffs typically match the Game 1 line. That’s never been true, except for matchups in a certain price range with relatively short home favorites. And it COULDN’T be true if when you had a short road favorite in the opener. Obviously they’d be prohibitive home favorites later in the series, which would make them solid chalk to advance despite a short G1 price. 

This season’s playoffs will be played in empty arenas on neutral ice (except for Toronto in the East and Edmonton in the West). You’ll still see that G1 favorites are generally slightly more pricey to win their series. 

Here are early odds in schedule order:

SATURDAY (5 qualifying rounds begin)
Carolina vs. NY Rangers (NBC Sports, noon)
Series Price: Carolina -135, NY Rangers plus 115
Game 1 Price: Carolina -125, NYR plus 110; total of 5.5 (Over -120)

Edmonton vs. Chicago (NBC, 3 p.m.)
Series Price: Edmonton -175, Chicago plus 155
Game 1 Price: Edmonton -150, Chicago plus 135; total of 6
(Edmonton has a 60% break even to win the opener, but a 64% break even to advance.)

NY Islanders vs. Florida (NBC Sports, 4 p.m.)
Series Price: NY Islanders -115, Florida plus 105
Game 1 Price: Florida -110, NY Islanders -105; total of 5.5 (Under -115)
(Mixed signals here, let’s see if the market smooths those out by Saturday.)

Pittsburgh vs. Montreal (NBC, 8 p.m.)
Series Price: Pittsburgh -240, Montreal plus 200
Game 1 Price: Pittsburgh -155, Montreal plus 135; total of 5.5 (Under -125)
(Pittsburgh is 61% to win the opener, but 74% to advance.)

Calgary vs. Winnipeg (NBC Sports, 10:30 p.m.)
Series Price: Calgary -120, Winnipeg -110
Game 1 Price: Calgary -115, Winnipeg even, total of 5.5 (Over -125)

SUNDAY (3 qualifying rounds begin)
Nashville vs. Arizona (USA Network, 2 p.m.)
Series Price: Nashville -135, Arizona plus 115
Game 1 Price: Nashville -120, Arizona plus 105; total of 5.5

Toronto vs. Columbus (NBC Sports, 8 p.m.)
Series Price: Toronto -160, Columbus plus 140
Game 1 Price: Toronto -145, Columbus plus 130, total of 5.5 (Over -130)

Vancouver vs. Minnesota (NBC Sports, 10:30 p.m.)
Series Price: Vancouver -130, Minnesota plus 100
Game 1 Price: Vancouver -110, Minnesota -105, total of 6 (Under -125)

We’ll look at the round robin games featuring power seeds Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington, and Philadelphia (East) and Vegas, Colorado, St. Louis, and Dallas (West) later in our final week of VSiN’s daily countdown to major sports restarts. 

Other Stories of Interest
*Lakers’ Lou Williams forced into 10-day quarantine (ESPN)
*JVT’s tips on handicapping NBA Win Totals (NY Post)
*KBO allows 10% attendance in stadiums (Yonhap News Agency and Arirang TV News)
*Contact tracing will slow down college football preparation (Sports Illustrated)
*A big unknown in covid vaccine development (Wall Street Journal)
*University of Miami doctor discusses covid challenges in Florida (Washington Post)

VSiN returns Tuesday morning for our next report.