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Cubs leading, Giants gaining on the updated World Series odds

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Where once 29 other teams were looking up, way up, at the Chicago Cubs on the 2016 World Series champion betting lines, surges by several other contenders have led to some revisions by the oddsmakers at sportsbooks monitored by

The Cubs retain top odds at +375 at the sportsbooks in spite of a recent stretch when they dropped 15 out of 22 games to fall into a three-way race with the San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals for the National League’s best record.

Chicago, which has been coping while leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler spends a spell on the disabled list, has two of the game’s finest young hitters in the corner-infield combo of 3B Kris Bryant and 1B Anthony Rizzo. All five starting pitchers have been durable.

Now might be a good time to place a bet on the outcome in October, since the board will change again once the dust settles after the July 31 trade deadline.

San Francisco, which has built a cushion against the hated Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West lead, has seen their odds improve to +550 after being listed at +900 in late May.

San Francisco’s front-end starters, LHP Madison Bumgarner and RHP Johnny Cueto, are as good of a 1-2 combo as any other in Major League Baseball. San Francisco, under manager Bruce Bochy, also has their playoff pedigree established during World Series triumphs in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

In terms of being a riser on the World Series odds, the Giants have nothing on either the Texas Rangers at +700 or Cleveland Indians at +750. Texas’ odds have dropped by half since May, as the Rangers have taken the AL West lead on the strength of a balanced lineup and a deep bullpen that eases the burden on LHP Cole Hamels and the starting rotation.

Cleveland’s odds were three times higher in May. The Indians have a solid starting and relief corps with the likes of RHP Corey Kluber and closer Cody Allen. Terry Francona, a former World Series-winning manager, is also getting better than league-average hitting from most of his everyday players, including the solid up-the-middle combo of 2B Jason Kipnis and SS Francisco Lindor.

The Washington Nationals’ odds have fallen to +900. The Nationals’ record and their numbers have been somewhat goosed by being in the thin NL East, but a team with reigning MVP Bryce Harper and RHP Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg could be dangerous in October.

The AL East has a legit three-team race, and the Toronto Blue Jays have the top odds within the division at +1000, with the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox at +1400. Of the three, Toronto has the most motivation to trade for short-term gain with DH Edwin Encarnacion and RF Jose Bautista both in their walk years.

Superstar LHP Clayton Kershaw’s stint on the disabled list has led to the Dodgers’ odds rising to +2000. The New York Yankees have also dropped out of sight to +6600, since the game’s richest franchise is set to be a seller during the next two weeks.

Value in 2018 MLB Pennant Odds Ranges Beyond Astros, Yankees, Dodgers

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Only three teams have won consecutive pennants in the last 16 Major League Baseball seasons, which should be a nudge to look beyond the teams about to unfurl flags celebrating 2017 success.

Three weeks out from Opening Day, the defending World Series champion Houston Astros and the New York Yankees are +275 co-favorites on the odds to win the 2018 American League pennant  and the Los Angeles Dodgers have the National League’s top prop at +225, according to sportsbooks monitored by

The Astros have a strong chance to repeat as AL champions thanks to the prospect of having a full season of both Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander in the starting rotation, which should upgrade a pitching staff that had just the 11th-best earned-run average in MLB in 2017. The hype over the Aaron Judge-Giancarlo Stanton show has pushed the Yankees’ price below 3-to-1, but a wait-and-see approach should be taken with New York, since both sluggers could regress.

The Cleveland Indians (+325) and Boston Red Sox (+600) round out the top of the AL board. The Minnesota Twins (+1800), who have quietly improved and play in a shallow AL Central division, could be a surprise.

Over in the National League, the Dodgers still look scary at bat and on the mound and could benefit from getting a push in the NL West, where the San Francisco Giants (+1000), Arizona Diamondbacks (+1200) and Colorado Rockies (+1800) have no time for tanking. Iron sharpens iron, after all.

The Washington Nationals (+350) and Chicago Cubs (+375) likely won’t face such a deep group of challengers in their respective divisions, the NL East and NL Central. Since the Nationals are in a now-or-never situation with one-time MVP Bryce Harper due to become a free agent, there is some appeal in putting a bet down just to tap into that urgency in Washington. The Cubs should field a playoff-calibre team, but whether they ever re-capture their 2016 postseason magic remains to be seen.

It’s probably best to fade the St. Louis Cardinals (+900) and the aforementioned Giants, whose prices on the 2018 National League pennant odds owe more to history or recent success than the outlook on the field in 2018. Bettors seeking a sleeper have a far greater return by taking, say, Colorado, which has an exciting lineup built around third baseman Nolan Arenado and made the 2017 playoffs with the second-youngest pitching staff in all of MLB.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at

Dodgers head into spring training as World Series betting favorite

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While trading for Giancarlo Stanton gives the New York Yankees a pair of 50-home run hitters in their lineup, the sharps still believe pitching and depth are the name of the game in World Series futures.

Coming off a seven-game loss in the 2017 Fall Classic, the Los Angeles Dodgers are +500 favorites on the 2018 World Series odds at sportsbooks monitored by As spring training gets underway in Arizona and Florida, there’s a big three at the top of the board, with the aforementioned Yankees (+550) and the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros (+550) offering a just slightly higher price than the Dodgers.

Major League Baseball has gone 17 consecutive seasons without a repeat champion and only three teams (2008-09 Philadelphia Phillies, 2010-11 Texas Rangers and 2014-15 Kansas City Royals) have made back-to-back World Series appearances. It’s possible the game is overdue for a change.

Both Houston and Los Angeles had more than 100 regular-season wins in 2017 despite the fact the best pitchers on either staff, the Astros’ Justin Verlander (late August trade) and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (injury), weren’t around for the full season. However, both teams still have a young core.

Adding Stanton as a big bat to go with Aaron Judge means the Yankees’ price has dropped by half from an opening +1100, days after the World Series. However, with TV analyst-turned-skipper Aaron Boone as a rookie manager, the Yankees will be trying to become only the fifth team to win the World Series with a first-year manager. Only one of the previous four – the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks – has come since the wild-card era began.

The Washington Nationals (+800), Cleveland Indians (+850), Boston Red Sox (+1000) and Chicago Cubs (+1000) are the only other teams at 10/1 or less. Considering its success over the last two seasons, Cleveland could be undervalued. Wariness about Washington stemming from its failure to advance past the NLDS is understandable, but the Nationals are in a do-or-done scenario with superstar rightfielder Bryce Harper in his contract year.

Adding Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani, a pitcher-outfielder, has brought the Los Angeles Angels’ price down to +2800, from an opening +5000. Expecting one player to have that much impact in his first season stateside seems like a tall order.

The deep sleeper might be the Colorado Rockies (+5000), who have one of MLB’s most productive infields with third baseman Nolan Arenado, second baseman DJ LeMahieu and shortstop Trevor Story. Colorado’s prospects are contingent on either wrestling the NL West title from the Dodgers or winning the “best of one” wild-card series.

For more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at