The MLB playoffs are rolling along -- it helps with no travel days -- and the League Championship series starts Sunday with the ALCS as the Tampa Bay Rays take on the Houston Astros at 7:37 p.m. ET/4:37 p.m. PT in San Diego. The NLCS starts Monday with the Los Angeles Dodgers facing the Atlanta Braves in Arlington, Texas.
I’ve mostly been trading money so far in the MLB playoffs. The Marlins were good to me in the wild-card round and the Yankees-Rays Overs were nice in the ALDS, but they only offset my losses with the Reds in the wild-card round and Marlins and Padres in the NLDS. The bets I regret NOT making were on the Astros as they swept the Twins in the wild-card round as juicy underdogs and then beat the A’s 3-1 in the ALDS.
I know there’s a lot of people who don’t want to bet on the Astros because of the sign-stealing scandal, etc., and believe me, I don’t feel too good about it, but I’m jumping on the Astros 155 in this series against the Rays (shop around as 165 was available Saturday night at the Westgate SuperBook, South Point and Station Casinos for bettors in Nevada).
No matter what you think about their recent postseason history, the fact is they’ve been to the ALCS for four straight years while the Rays haven’t been here since 2008, so the Astros have a big edge on the biggest stage. I know the Astros backed into the playoffs with a sub-.500 record at 29-31, but we’ve seen in their series win over the Twins and A’s that they’re much better than that. The Rays have the better pitching staff, but the offenses are pretty even (Rays ranked 12th in majors with 289 runs scored while the Astros were 14th with 279 runs and now they’re healthier).
I’ll also start by betting the Astros 140 in Game 1 with Framber Valdez (7-4, 3.27 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) vs. Blake Snell (8-5, 3.26 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) as I don’t see why the Rays should be favored by so much. In Point Spread Weekly on Wednesday, I’ll post if I’m still betting the Astros or just letting the series bet ride.
In the NLCS starting Monday, I’m going to start off passing on the underdog Braves vs. the Dodgers. I came out ahead on my MLB Over/Under Season Win Totals, but my biggest loss was on the Dodgers Under 39 as they went an incredible 43-17 and then they also cost me my future wagers on the Padres, so I’m sick of jumping in front of that train. Besides, the Dodgers have the playoff experience edge here. I’ll check back in PSW in case I change my mind on the Braves from the first two games in the series.
Picks: Astros 140 in Sunday's Game 1 & 155 or better in ALCS.