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Betting/Fantasy Notebook: Bryce Harper Out, Yankees and Astros on Collision Course

Harper’s injury hurts Phillies’ chances and sends fantasy managers in search of help.

The Phillies and fantasy managers received a crushing blow Saturday night when Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch from the Padres’ Blake Snell in the fourth inning, fracturing his thumb. Harper was in the midst of another MVP-caliber season, batting .320 with 15 homers, 48 RBI and nine stolen bases.

When the season began, Harper was +750 at SI Sportsbook to repeat as NL MVP. There is no timetable for his return.

The Phillies have been one of the hottest teams in baseball since firing Joe Girardi three weeks ago. They have improved to 39-35 and are only 1.5 games out of the wild card.

They have improved to +1300 to win the NL pennant – up from 17-to-1 odds at the beginning of June. With the loss of the reigning NL MVP, it doesn’t look like a winning bet.

Guardians to the rescue?
If you’re in need of a replacement for Harper for your fantasy team, take a look at two Cleveland Guardians who have eight games this week.

Remember the hottest waiver wire claim in April, Steven Kwan? Well, after a terrible May, Kwan is back–and so are the Guardians. Coincidence? Maybe not. Kwan is batting at the top of the order, hitting .362 in June. He’s batting .286 with four stolen bases on the season, and he leads the league in strikeout rate, just ahead of teammate Jose Ramirez. He’s available in more than 80% of leagues.

Another option from Cleveland is rookie Oscar Gonzalez. Since being promoted on May 26, Gonzalez is batting .303 with two homers and 14 RBI. Oh, and did I mention he’s crushing the ball with a max exit velocity in the top 9% of the league? He’s available in 92% of leagues.

You can also try to replace some of Harper’s speed with Jarren Duran of the surging Boston Red Sox. Duran has raised his batting average to .327 after the weekend through only 13 games. He has four stolen bases, two of which he swiped on Saturday. The Red Sox have the longest active win streak in the league and have improved to 42-31. They are +1300 to win the AL pennant, but they still trail the Yankees in the AL East by 11 games. And speaking of the Yankees...

AL dominance
The Astros and the Yankees split a riveting series in the Bronx with Aaron Judge walking it off in both comeback wins for the Bombers. Judge remains the favorite for AL MVP at SISB at +100 odds.

The Astros, for their part, showed off the depth of their pitching rotation with Cristian Javier leading the way on a combined no-hitter which also included Hector Neris and Ryan Pressley in relief. Javier struck out 13 Yankees and looks to be making a strong argument to stay in the rotation when Jake Odorizzi returns.

It’s the first time the Yankees have been no-hit since six Astros pitchers combined to no-hit them on June 11, 2003. Since 1958, there have only been two no-hitters thrown vs. the Yankees–both by the Houston Astros.

All in all, the Astros held the Yanks to no hits for 16 consecutive innings across two games, with Jose Urquidy also pitching seven innings of one-hit ball. Urquidy is available in more than 40% of fantasy leagues.

These teams squaring off in October? You should bet on it.

The Yankees are +180 to win the AL pennant and the Astros are +275. The value is good for Houston, which looks to only need another piece for the pen. 

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