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Indians, Rangers odds improve to win World Series after trade deadline

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Winning the non-waiver trade deadline has resulted in the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers climbing up the odds to win the 2016 World Series, although the Chicago Cubs retain the top betting line at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Cubs are listed at +350, which is no surprise for a team which has the highest run differential in Major League Baseball and has led the NL Central division since April 11. Chicago’s big move before the deadline expired on Monday was trading for left-handed closer Aroldis Chapman. A team can never have too many options in the bullpen, and the Cubs also added lefty specialist Mike Montgomery and sidearmer Joe Smith.

The Rangers’ odds have come down to +650 after GM Jon Daniels brought in OF Carlos Beltran and C Jonathan Lucroy. Beltran offers a middle-of-the-order masher, while Lucroy is an all-star catcher who should offer a benefit to the Rangers’ pitchers. Texas didn’t land a starting pitcher, though, and it’s fair to wonder if that will bite them in the long run.

The San Francisco Giants are also listed at +650 after adding Matt Moore to be the second lefty in their starting rotation. The Giants are in a NL West division race with the Los Angeles Dodgers (+1600). The Dodgers responded to ace Clayton Kershaw going on the disabled list by going 18-10 in July, but that could be hard to sustain. There is no ETA on Kershaw’s possible return this season.

Cleveland is listed at +750 after acquiring LHP Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees, giving them a high-end reliever to close out wins for a deep ensemble of starters. The prospect of Cleveland possibly having home-field advantage throughout the postseason, when pitching dominates in chilly conditions, makes them an enticing betting possibility.

The Washington Nationals, who lead the NL East and own MLB’s second-greatest run differential, are also listed at +750. Washington added a big name by getting closer Mark Melancon from the Pittsburgh Pirates as a rental player.

Over in the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays have the lowest odds at +900, with the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles’ odds rising to +1200 and +1600 respectively. Toronto stuck to buy-low moves, trading with the Pirates for LHP Francisco Liriano, who is leading the NL in bases on balls but will be reunited with former personal catcher Russell Martin.

Speaking of buying low, there are the defending NL champion New York Mets at +2800, whose best-case scenario for the playoffs probably involves the one-game wild-card series. The Mets pushed their chips in to add lefty power by picking up OF Jay Bruce from the Cincinnati Reds. Bruce’s road split is better than his stats at Great American Ball Park, so moving to Citi Field shouldn’t hurt his productivity.

Dodgers Open World Series as Betting Favorites

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The Los Angeles Dodgers offer a better price at the start of this year’s World Series than last season’s favorite did, but value bettors could still be pushed toward the Houston Astros.

The Dodgers are the -170 betting favorite over the +150 underdog Astros on the World Series prices at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. While the Dodgers had Major League Baseball’s best regular-season record and are 7-1 in the postseason, the odds are closer to parity than they were on the eve of the 2016 World Series when the Chicago Cubs were listed at -190 with the Cleveland Indians coming back at +165.

And of course, those Cubs had to win Games 5, 6 and 7 to capture their first World Series title in 108 years.

The combination of being from America’s second-largest city and being in the Fall Classic for the first time in 29 years is driving some big money toward the Dodgers. If one believes Houston can pull this off, it’s probably best to wait until close to the start of Game 1 at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.

Conversely, a Game 1 win would drive the Dodgers’ value down even farther. For example, they were a -190 favorite before the NLCS and came down to -290 after taking Game 1 against the Cubs.

The strong suit of the Astros’ lineup, which is led by 2B Jose Altuve, is that they can handle high-velocity fastballs in the strike zone. While the Dodgers bullpen has an earned-run average of 0.94 during the playoffs, power-armed relievers such as Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen might not fare as well at fogging high heat by hitters like they did in the NLDS and NLCS.

In a similar but different way, the Dodgers’ lineup isn’t vulnerable to Houston’s strongest suit. Justin Verlander, who will start Game 2 on Wednesday, and reliever Lance McCullers excel at making hitters chase breaking balls out of the strike zone, but 1B Cody Bellinger, 3B Justin Turner and the Dodgers hitters possess exceptional plate discipline and led the NL in bases on balls drawn. In other words, there’s a chance for some scoring battles.

Game 1 on Tuesday is an all-lefty matchup between Astros sinkerballer Dallas Keuchel and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers are a -165 Game 1 favorite with the Astros coming back at +155. The total is at 7 runs.

Houston is 19-8 in Keuchel starts this season, including 2-1 during the postseason. Since August 2016, the Astros are 14-3 when Keuchel starts on the road.

Los Angeles is 26-4 when Kershaw starts, including 3-0 during the postseason. The Dodgers are also 18-2 in the last 20 Kershaw starts where they were favored. The total has gone OVER in three of Kershaw’s last four starts at home.

With a heat wave expected to put the game-time temperature in the vicinity of 100 degrees on Tuesday, there’s a chance the ball could jump off hitters’ bats and pitchers might fatigue at a higher rate. That could favor OVER bettors.

One odd fact is that this is the fifth World Series between an American League team from the Central time zone and a National League team from the Pacific time zone. The NL team has won all four. None of the four was a sweep.

Dodgers, Indians are World Series favorites in MLB postseason

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Last October was a rare instance where the team with the best record in baseball won the World Series, which is something to keep in mind before laying the favorite.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the +300 favorite on the World Series odds as the MLB playoffs begin Tuesday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Cleveland Indians (+350) are a close second favorite.

From there, the board spreads out to the teams with Division Series home-field advantage, the Houston Astros (+500) and Washington Nationals (+700), followed by the Boston Red Sox (+800) and defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs (+800).

Wild-card teams have won six of the last 22 World Series, while the top regular-season team has triumphed in only seven of the last 31. So there is potential to cash in early on the value of a wild-card team. The New York Yankees (+1400) stack up well against the Minnesota Twins (+2800) in the wild-card game. However, Aaron Judge, et al., fared poorly in their season series against both Cleveland and Houston.

The Arizona Diamondbacks (+1400), conversely, won the season series against the NL West rival Dodgers and might have the starting pitching and slugging prowess to take them out in a best-of-five NLDS. The Diamondbacks have to first get by the Colorado Rockies (+2800).

While MLB has not had a team repeat as World Series champions since 2000, teams that make a World Series seem more apt to do it again, regardless of what happened in the regular season (see the San Francisco Giants in 2010, 2012 and 2014). The Cubs, who have had their act together since the all-star break, are well-priced at 8/1.

It could well be that this is the year the Dodgers, five-time NL West champions, figure it out. But of the top seeds in each league, Cleveland played better in the second half and has lights-out pitching on the front end through the likes of Corey Kluber and on the back end with Cody Allen and lefty Andrew Miller in the bullpen.

As far as the wild-card matchups go, the Yankees (-235) are heavily favored against the Twins (+200), with a 7.5-run total in Tuesday’s AL wild-card game Yankees RHP Luis Severino is MLB’s hardest-throwing starter this season and the Twins are not a team of fastball hitters. Severino has limited batters to a .207/.265/.362 slash line (batting average, on-base and slugging percentage) this season at Yankee Stadium.

Twins RHP Ervin Santana also has a lifetime 6.43 earned run average in six games at Yankee Stadium, while allowing a .310/.379/.486 slash line.

The Yankees, with the likes of RHP Dellin Betances and LHP Aroldis Chapman, possess a deeper bullpen than the Twins. The total has gone under in five of Twins’ last seven road games against the Yankees.

The Diamondbacks (-166) are favored against the Rockies (+156) with an 8.5-run total in Wednesday’s NL wild-card game. Arizona is likely to start ace RHP Zack Greinke, who held the Rockies to a .229/.241/.435 slash line in five starts this season.

The Rockies’ presumptive starter, Jon Gray, is MLB’s second-hardest throwing starter. That could end up being in Arizona’s wheelhouse since power threats such as 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 3B Mike Lamb and RF J.D. Martinez make them one of baseball’s best teams at hitting against high velocity. If Arizona has a fatal flaw, it’s that closer Fernando Rodney has been human at home this season.

Arizona is 7-2 straight-up in its last nine games against the Rockies. The total has gone under in four of these teams’ last six games at Chase Field.