Cubs favorites against Dodgers in Game 3 of NLCS on Tuesday

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Jake Arrieta returns to the stadium where he twirled a no-hitter last season as the Chicago Cubs take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLCS on Tuesday night.

With the best-of-seven league championship series square at 1-1 the Cubs are the -125 betting favorite for Game 3. The host Dodgers, who will start LHP Rich Hill, are a slight underdog at +105 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The total is at 6.5 runs.

The Cubs are 7-11 straight-up in their last 18 road games against the Dodgers, according to the OddsShark MLB Database.

Arrieta has regressed since being nearly unhittable in the first two months of this season, but the Cubs have won in six of his last 10 starts. Counting the no-hitter, the Cubs’ ace has made four starts against the Dodgers, with a 3.24 earned-run average and a .119 opponents’ batting average. While 25 innings is a small sample, Arrieta has a high walk rate against the Dodgers, having issued 15 bases on balls.

Arrieta (game log) has not worked since October 10, when he allowed two earned runs over six innings during Game 3 of the NLDS. In 25 career starts where he has had six or more days of rest, Arrieta has a 2.45 ERA and a .196 opponents’ average.

While the Cubs are throwing their ace, several hitters are slumping. Second baseman Ben Zobrist, CF Dexter Fowler, 3B Kris Bryant and 1B Anthony Rizzo have yet to put up offensive numbers through the first five postseason games.

Hill (game log) is working on three days’ rest for the first time in more than a decade, although he lasted fewer than three innings in his last outing in Game 5 of the Dodgers’ NLDS against the Washington Nationals.

The 36-year-old lefty has resuscitated his career by relying on his curveball and four-seam fastball, which will give the Cubs’ hitters a different look than what they faced when they were stymied by Dodgers ace LHP Clayton Kershaw in Game 2 on Sunday.

The Dodgers are 4-4 SU with Hill starting. Hill has not worked six full innings in any of his last five starts, so Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts could have a quick hook. Closer Kenley Jansen was the only reliever needed during the 1-0 Dodgers win in Game 2, prior to the travel day.

The total has gone over in seven of Arrieta’s last 10 starts on the road, with one push. However, the total has gone under in seven of Hill’s last 10 home starts, also with one push. The total has also gone under in five of Hill’s eight starts for the Dodgers.

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.