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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.

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 OddsShark.com.

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 OddsShark.libsyn.com.

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 OddsShark.com. 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 OddsShark.libsyn.com.