As promised in Point Spread Weekly, this is your Tuley’s Takes Extra! betting preview of the NL & AL championship series.
As I also wrote in PSW, we were 8-7 for a net profit of 2.48 units heading into the two Game 5’s on Wednesday. We dropped 1.1 units on the Cardinals-Braves Under 8 (if you’re gonna lose an Under, might as have a team score 10 runs in the first inning and make it painless!) but hope everyone was with us on the Nationals plus-146 against the Dodgers (and most should have found the Nats at plus-155 or plus-160 on gameday, so hopefully you’re doing even better if following along) though we dropped a unit on the Rays on Thursday night, so we stand at 9-9 overall but still a profit of 1.86 units thanks to the power of plus-money on underdogs.
But enough looking back – here’s my “takes” on the championships series. Odds are as of Friday afternoon after the Yankees announced Masahiro Tanaka as the Game 1 starter in the ALCS:
Nationals vs. Cardinals
Series: Nationals -125/Cardinals plus-105
Game 1: Cardinals -115/Nationals plus-105, O/U 8
Tuley’s Take: Yes, the Nats are actually the series favorites even though the Cards have home-field advantage. But that’s actually not too surprising as Washington had the better regular-season record and St. Louis only has HFA (which really only makes a difference as far as the series is concerned if it goes the full seven games) because it’s a division winner while the Nationals were a wildcard. Actually, I’m a little surprised that they not favored in Game 1, so I think there’s value taking them right out of the gate. They’re starting Anibal Sanchez (11-8, 3.79 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) against Miles Mikolas (10-14, 4.07 ERA, 1.21 WHIP), so we’re getting the better pitcher and the Nationals have the better offense overall. The Cards have the better bullpen, but as we’ve seen, the Nats are the highest-scoring team in the majors from the 8th inning on, as they showed in the wildcard game and the divisional playoffs. Besides, they just have the look of a team of destiny if you ask me (and even if you don’t!). I’m not sure how I’ll play the rest of the games during the series as I suspect the Washington will be favored in Game 2 with Max Scherzer vs. Adam Wainwright and also favored in the games in D.C. Best Bet: Nationals plus-105 in Friday’s Game 1 and anytime as dogs.
Yankees vs. Astros
Series: Astros -180/Yankees 160
Game 1: Astros -155/Yankees plus-145, O/U 8.5
Tuley’s Take: With Tanaka getting the start for Game 1, the Astros were made -155 favorites with Zack Greinke taking the mound (as Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole went in Games 4 and 5 of the hard-fought ALDS vs. the Rays). One might think I’d like the underdog going against Houston’s No. 3 starter, but I’m going to pass in Game 1. Instead, I’ll take the Under 8.5 (though Circa did open Under 9 -120, so some will like that in case it lands 9 for a push) in Saturday’s Game 1, not because of Tanaka but actually more because I expect the game to be turned over to the Yankees’ bullpen fairly early. There might be times in the series when I flip to liking the Over (especially with the total expected to be shaded lower when Verlander and Cole start), but I’ll take the Under in the opener. While I don’t think we’re getting a fair price on the Yankees plus-160 for the series (note: the Astros did win the season series 4-3, though all games took place in early April and last June), I’m also expecting that I’ll take the Yankees as dogs if oddsmakers jack up the prices in Verlander’s and Cole’s starts (especially if the Yankees are home dogs). So, that’s my game plan without seeing specific prices the rest of the series. Best Bets: Yankees-Astros Under 8.5 in Game 1 (Under 9 if you can get it); Yankees as road dogs of plus-200 or better and anytime as home dogs; Over any total of 8 or lower.