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Astros come back to life

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

Houston Astros on another tear…scoring 41 runs in their last five games! Plus, a first-round shocker at the US Open and an early look at point spreads in college football blockbusters today in VSiN City.

MLB Monday: Houston Astros win sixth straight as order is being restored in the AL West

It got really interesting there for a few days. Houston endured a slump with superstar second-baseman Jose Altuve unable to play (8-13 in the games he missed). Oakland performed at a world championship level for a couple of months. Suddenly we had a race!

Altuve came back, and it’s not feeling like much of a race any more. 

Houston (-200) 11, Oakland 4

Total Bases Plus Walks: Oakland 16, Houston 31

Starting Pitchers: Anderson 2.2 IP, 5 ER, Cole 6 IP, 4 ER

Bullpen: Oakland 5.1 IP, 6 ER, Houston 3 IP, 0 ER

Houston hit two three-run homers, in the same inning (eighth). Maybe Houston’s bullpen is still going to be a weakness in October. When getting this much run support, it’s not an issue. 

Six straight wins for the Astros. A true offensive explosion in the last five, with a scoring line of 10-9-8-3-11. That’s 41 runs in five games, or 8.2 runs per outing. Still playing at a 107 to 108-win pace in the games Altuve starts. 

Houston moves to 81-50 with the win. Oakland falls to 79-53. Yes, that’s only 2.5 games back. But, unless Altuve misses another 20 games, it’s tough to see Houston blowing this division. Maybe Oakland will close out the series more competitively and we’ll have a change of heart.

Astros extremely well-positioned to enjoy home field advantage in the divisional round vs. Cleveland. Boston would have home field were the Astros and Red Sox to meet in the ALCS. Oakland still most likely to visit the New York Yankees in a Wildcard game.  

In other Monday night early finishers involving playoff contenders…

*Philadelphia (pick-em) LOST at home to Washington 5-3. No margin for error at the moment for the Phils. They fall to 70-61, which is 3.5 games behind idle Atlanta in the NL East…and now tied with the LA Dodgers at nine games over .500, lagging the Wildcard pack. Just 2-7 the last nine games for the Phillies, against the Nats, Blue Jays, and Mets (ugh); and 6-12 their last 18 games. Not performing like a playoff team lately. Washington is back to .500 at 66-66. We’ve typed variations of that sentence a lot in recent weeks. 

*The Chicago Cubs (-130) beat the NY Mets 7-4. Seems like we say this every night. Cubs win again and further secure what seems to be a certain playoff berth. Would be almost impossible to fall all the way out of the brackets from 24 games over .500 with a month to go. As of now they can coast to home field advantage throughout the NL postseason. 

*The NY Yankees (-255) LOST to the Chicago White Sox 6-2. Only three hits on the night for the Yankees, who fall to 83-48. Probably not a result that’s going to matter unless a slew of surprises happen. Though, the Chisox may start mattering to gamblers if they keep showing this level of intensity. That’s four straight wins (all on the road) for CWS, and a 10-3 record the last 13 games. Once football starts, some value baseball teams can slip through the cracks before adjustments are made.

Light schedule Monday night. Everyone’s back in action Tuesday. 

US Open Monday: Oh my…Simona! Top seed Halep shocked on opening Day

It’s not uncommon to see upsets on opening day at Flushing Meadows. But, not to a #1 seed! 

Simona Halep entered the US Open as a virtual co-favorite with Serena Williams. Halep is OUT after losing to world #44 Kaia Kanepi 6-2, 6-4. Tough draw for Salep. But, she was still about -1100 to win that match on the money line. Kanepi returned about plus 750 depending on where you shop. 

Other Seeded Women Defeated

#27 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova lost to Rebecca Peterson in 3 sets

#31 Magdalena Rybarikova lost to Qiang Wang in 2 sets

Seeded Men Defeated

#8 Grigor Dmitrov lost to Stan Wawrinka in 3 sets

#16 Kyle Edmund lost to Paolo Lorenzi in 4 sets

#19 Roberto Batista-Agut lost to Jason Kubler in 3 sets

#24 Damir Dzumhur lost to Dusan Lajovic in 4 sets

Some adjustments in exchange odds to win the women’s title. Let’s update those from Betfair. We’ll leave the men alone with no major upsets. 

Women’s Exchange Odds

Serena Williams: risk $1 to win $4, risk $4.50 to win $1 that she won’t win

Angelique Kerber: risk $1 to win $7.60, risk $8.60 to win $1 that she won’t win

Sloane Stephens: risk $1 to win $8, risk $9.50 to win $1 that she won’t win

Garbine Muguruza: risk $1 to win $14.50, risk $18 to win $1 that she won’t win

Elina Svitolina: risk $1 to win $16, risk $18.50 to win $1 that she won’t win

Madison Keys: risk $1 to win $17, risk $21 to win $1 that she won’t win

Petra Kvitova: risk $1 to win $18, risk $20 to win $1 that she won’t win

Williams had been two dollars higher before the upset. Now Serena’s most dangerous opponent is no longer a potential obstacle. Still plenty of potential spoilers, particularly with Serena not yet back to her championship form. 

We’ll pick our spots to cover the US Open through the fortnight, focusing on major upsets if and when they happen through this first week. 

College Football: Updated National Championship Odds from the South Point

It was a relatively quiet Monday in the sports world. So, we have room to update the new odds to win the National Championship from the South Point. 

Let’s start with those for the projected winners of the Power 5 conferences. Again, these are odds to win THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, not each conference. (Percentage win equivalents are in parenthesis.)

National Championship Odds for Projected Major Conference Winners

Alabama 2/1 (33% win equivalent)

Clemson 7/2 (22%)

Washington 4/1 (20%)

Ohio State 5/1 (17%)

Oklahoma 10/1 (9%)

There’s a 100% chance that somebody’s going to win the title after surviving the Final Four. Those five teams by themselves already add up to 101%. You regulars know that sports books create a universe larger than 100% to represent a house edge. Big house edge on this prop. The last time we checked on these in mid-July, the sums totaled just below 80%. So, a lot of public interest in teams getting the most media hype. 

There are other teams who will be playing football this season. Let’s check on “the best of the rest” that are priced from 7/1 up through 40/1. 

Best of the Rest 

Georgia 7/1 (13%)

Wisconsin 15/1 (6%)

Michigan 15/1 (6%)

Penn State 18/1 (5%)

Auburn 30/1 (3%)

Miami 30/1 (3%)

USC 35/1 (3%)

Notre Dame 35/1 (3%)

Texas 40/1 (2%)

Michigan State 40/1 (2%)

LSU 40/1 (2%)

A total of 11 teams in that batch…who add up to 48% win equivalent. We’re at 149% through just 16 teams! Granting that this is a top-heavy sport known for protecting its power programs…there’s just not much value for bettors at those prices. (Note that the top five would be about a -210 favorite on a no-vig line heads up vs. that second group based on those prices…as 101/48 is 2.10.)

There are 20 more teams that have chances near 1%...meaning about a 170% universe before you get outside the top 40 teams. 

Will be fun to monitor changes through the season.

College Football: Early week lines for marquee matchups

Way too many games this week to provide an in-depth “Market Watch.” But, we did want to get early-week numbers in your hands for the most appealing TV matchups. We’ll pick out one game of interest apiece for Thursday and Friday, then run through the Labor Day Weekend blockbusters. 

Thursday

Northwestern at Purdue (-2.5/52.5)

Purdue was a great story last season. But, both of these teams finished 9-4 against the point spread. Northwestern was posted as the favorite initially. Enough respect to flip favorites, but not enough to reach the key number of three. A settled line of -2.5 means sharps would hit the underdog hard at plus three. 

Friday

San Diego State at Stanford (-15/48.5)

SDSU is capable of making this one very interesting. If it can’t…then Stanford establishes itself more seriously as a sleeper in the Pac 12. 

Saturday

Texas (-13.5/56.5) at Maryland (in Landover)

BYU at Arizona (-14/60.5)

Washington vs. Auburn (-1.5/48) (in Atlanta)

Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech (-2.5/67) (in Houston)

West Virginia (-9.5/61.5) vs. Tennessee (in Charlotte)

Michigan at Notre Dame (-1/47)

Louisville at Alabama (-25/60.5) (in Orlando)

Wow! Great test for Washington right out of the gate. Odd to see a team at 4/1 to win the title getting points on a neutral field to start the season. Though, Auburn playing in Atlanta may not feel all that neutral to the Huskies. Everyone will be watching Michigan/Notre Dame in prime time. Both programs have their skeptics this season. 

Sunday

Miami (-3.5/48) vs. LSU (in Arlington, TX)

Miami crashed hard late last season. You know they want to atone for that right out of the gate. LSU will own the crowd at this site. 

Monday

Virginia Tech at Florida State (-7/57)

Question marks at both programs…but either could make life interesting for Clemson in advance of the Final Four. 

Great week ahead. We’ll keep our eyes on the prices for you. 

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