Cubs Clear Favorite on Odds to Win World Series as MLB Playoffs Begin

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The way the end of the Major League Baseball regular season played out has caused some shuffling on the 2016 World Series champion futures board.

The Chicago Cubs retain the +225 top odds that they possessed entering the last week of the season, according to sportsbooks monitored by The Cubs, who led all of baseball with 103 wins, have had weeks to set up their rotation for a NLDS matchup between the  winner of Wednesday’s wild card game between the New York Mets (+1600) and San Francisco Giants (+2000).

Chicago also has a 27.6 percent chance of winning the World Series, tops in the league, entering the playoffs according to the simulations run by website

The Texas Rangers, who have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, are the second favorite at +500. The Rangers are an astounding 36-11 in one-run games, which could be their hole card in the postseason. Texas awaits the wild card game winner, either the Baltimore Orioles (+2000) or Toronto Blue Jays (+1200).

The Boston Red Sox are listed at +600 while the Cleveland Indians are at +800 in spite of having a potential extra home game in their ALDS showdown. The Red Sox went 19-10 after August 31 to win the AL East, while Cleveland went 16-13 in that span.

The set NLDS foes, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals, are also listed at +600. Two aces, Washington’s Max Scherzer and Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw, will likely go head-to-head in Game 1 and in a potential Game 5.

The Blue Jays are a -150 favorite against the +135 underdog Orioles in the AL wild card game on Tuesday. The total is 8.5. Toronto is 12-7 at home against Baltimore over the last two seasons. The total went over in 11 of those 19 games.

The Blue Jays are starting RHP Marcus Stroman, even though he has a 7.04 ERA in four starts this season vs. Baltimore, with a .344 opponents’ batting average. Toronto has LHP Nelson Liriano and RHP Marco Estrada available. Baltimore is throwing RHP Chris Tillman, who had a 3.63 ERA and .250 opponents’ average in four starts vs. Toronto.

The Orioles also have a near-untouchable closer with LHP Zach Britton.

The NL wild card game is a toss-up befitting a pitching showdown between LHP Madison Bumgarner and RHP Noah Syndergaard. Bumgarner’s San Francisco Giants are listed at -103, with Syndergaard’s New York Mets a razor-thin -107 favorite. The total is 6.0.

The Giants are 6-4 on the road against the Mets at Citi Field since 2014. The Giants are 5-1 against the Mets in Bumgarner starts. The lefty has handcuffed the Mets to the count of a 1.80 ERA and .189 batting average in those six starts. Syndergaard is 1-2 with a 3.66 ERA and .243 opponents’ average in three career starts against the Giants.

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