Roy Oswalt's impact on the Phillies' World Series aspirations remain to be seen. But his influence on their betting odds to make it to a third straight Fall Classic - and win it - has already been dramatic.
After the Phils acquired the righthanded ace from the Houston Astros late last month, the MGM Resorts International sports books in Las Vegas slashed the odds on the Phillies' winning the World Series almost in half, from 12-1 to 13-2. As of Tuesday, the Phillies' odds to win the World Series had narrowed even more, to 11-2, and to win the National League pennant, to 5-2, at MGM Resorts International casinos, which include the Bellagio, Mirage, MGM Grand, and several others.
"And as it turned out, we got a lot of action on the Phillies [just after the trade]," said Jay Rood, MGM Resorts director of race and sports book operations, "which showed that our thinking on this was right."
Of course, the Phillies were also blazing along on an eight-game winning streak when they acquired Oswalt, but Rood said that the odds shift should be viewed as much for what lies ahead.
"In six to eight weeks, [the Phillies] are going to be a force to be reckoned with," he said.
The Phillies still are not the favorite to win the NL pennant; at the moment, that distinction belongs to the Atlanta Braves at 11-5. The New York Yankees are the overall favorite to win the World Series at 2-1, followed by the Tampa Bay Rays (4-1) and the Braves (4-1).
At the Las Vegas Hilton, the Phillies are 11-4 to win the pennant and 7-1 to win the World Series. The Hilton opened the Phillies at 6-1 to capture the Series, and when their fortunes were at their lowest ebb that number soared to 20-1.
With the trade for Oswalt, though, the Phillies have made themselves a dangerous playoff team because of their three strong starters. Oswalt, with a career 3.25 ERA, bolsters a rotation that already includes seven-time all-star Roy Halladay and 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels.
Interestingly, the Phillies' odds weren't affected by the injury to team home run and RBI leader Ryan Howard that has the slugger on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained ankle.
"It's not going to change things all that much," said Jay Kornegay, the Las Vegas Hilton's vice president overseeing the race and sports book. "Not that he's not a huge piece of the puzzle there. He certainly is. But if it happened in connection with some other bad things, or if it were for the season, that would be serious."
Loyal to a fault. Take a shot at this quiz.
Among the 30 major-league teams, which club has attracted the most betting slips at the Las Vegas Hilton to win the World Series?
The New York Yankees?
The Boston Red Sox?
The Phillies going for their third straight Series appearance?
It's the Chicago Cubs.
The 290 betting slips the Hilton wrote on the Cubs to win the Series - something Chicago has failed to do since 1908 - were about 100 more than the sports book sold for fan favorites such as the Yankees or Red Sox.
To open the season, depending on where you shopped for odds, the Cubs were 10-1 to 14-1 to win their first championship in more than a century. Now, in a heated battle with Houston for fourth place in the NL Central, the Cubbies are listed at the Hilton at 500-1.
That's Vegas-speak for hopeless.
Contact Bill Ordine at 215-854-2939 or at email@example.com.