LAS VEGAS – With the appetizer of the MLB wild-card games out of the way, the main menu moves to the League Division Series with Game 1s of the American League playoffs today.
Here’s a reset of the World Series futures, with the Yankees being lowered from 9-1 to 6-1 after beating the Twins 8-4 on Tuesday night and the Diamondbacks being lowered from 14-1 to 10-1 after beating the Rockies 11-8 on Wednesday night.
World Series futures
Courtesy: South Point
Indians 9-5 ( 180 as ML)
Dodgers 14-5 ( 280 as ML)
Red Sox 9-1
As I wrote in the wild-card preview earlier this week, I don’t see any good value on the futures board. The prop I would like to see is “Will the Cubs-Nationals series winner go on to win the World Series?” Of course, we can do virtually the same thing by betting both teams’ at 8-1 and having basically 4.5-1 on our investment for the surviving team (note: you can also do better by shopping around for better odds on each team).
Normally, I eschew fixed-odds futures like these because you can almost always get a better payoff by taking the series price in a team’s first series and parlaying your winnings onto each subsequent series (or game-by-game in single-elimination tournaments such as the NFL playoffs or March Madness). So if you like one of the above teams but don’t think you’re getting fair value on the futures, consider the series prices first.
Favorites and overs went 2-0 in the wild-card games, so we’ll see if those trends continue (which I hope not as I am mostly looking to bet unders and live underdogs in individual games). In Tuesday’s AL wild-card game, I was glad I passed on the Twins and the under, even though I was wishing I had Twins 215 when they jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
Note: all odds are from VSiN’s home at the South Point unless otherwise noted:
Series Price: Houston Astros minus-170/Boston Red Sox plus-150
Game 1: Red Sox (o/u 7) at Astros (-130), 4:05 p.m. ET Thursday
Tuley’s Take: I like the Astros to win this best-of-5 series for the simple reason that I rate them better in most categories (they led the majors in runs scored despite playing half their games in a pitchers park, better starting staff, better bullpen), plus home-field advantage. Of course, this is all built into the series price, which I won’t be laying (see above discussion of series prices if you like Astros to make a deep run). Thursday afternoon’s Game 1 matchup features hired guns Chris Sale for the Red Sox against Justin Verlander for the Astros. This is their first meeting with their current teams. Verlander has dominated their personal series as he is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA with his team (the Tigers in all six previous meetings) winning the first five matchups before Sale turned the tables back in June (his team’s first four losses were when he was with the White Sox). Sale has a personal record of 1-2 in these head-to-head matchups with a very respectable 2.95 ERA, so they often duel each other into the ground before leaving it to the bullpens. I don’t see anything different happening here, so I like the under 7 even though it is shaded a little low. As for the rest of the series, I would look to the Astros as live underdogs or even as short road faves in Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) in Boston and lean toward the unders in the other games in Houston and the overs in Boston. (Note: if you like more stats and advanced analytics in your handicapping, I certainly recommend VSiN colleague Jeff Fogle’s breakdowns in the VSiN City daily newsletter). The plays: Under 7 in Game 1, Astros in games in Boston.
Series Price: Cleveland Indians minus-165/New York Yankees plus-145
Game 1: Yankees (o/u 8.5 under -120) at Indians (-130), 7:35 p.m. ET Thursday
Tuley’s Take: I give the underdog Yankees a better shot at pulling off the series upset. The Indians are certainly a worthy favorite to win the World Series, but they draw a tough matchup in the wild-card Yankees and that’s reflected in this series price being shorter than the Astros-Red Sox series. The Indians did pull off a sweep at Yankee Stadium the last time they met, but of course that was during their epic 22-game winning streak. When these teams met in Cleveland in early August, the Yankees managed a split. The Yankees actually outscored the Indians during the regular season, so I have no doubt they can keep up on the offensive end. The Indians have the edge with starting pitchers, but as we saw in the AL wild-card game when New York starter Luis Servino last just 1/3 of an inning, this deep Yankees bullpen can make up for any deficiencies. In Game 1, Cleveland starts Trevor Bauer with New York countering with Sonny Gray. While I like the Yankees in the series, the Game 1 price of 120 is a little short so I’ll pass and hope they come through to get a leg up on the series price. If the Yankees lose, I’ll come back with them in Game 2 with C.C. Sabathia; if the Yankees win, I’ll probably pass Game 2 and ride the series price while hoping to get them as home underdogs in Games 3 and 4 (yes, this is going at least four games). The over/under for Game 1 is set a little higher at 8.5 and looks like more of a 50/50 proposition so I’ll probably be passing on over/unders in this series and trying to cheer the Yankees home. The plays: Yankees plus-145 in series, Yankees in Game 2 but only if losing Game 1, Yankees if home underdogs.