Cleveland Indians Offer Most Betting Value Going Into World Series

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The Cleveland Indians come into a historic World Series matchup as the underdog, but the shifting odds might underrate how Terry Francona has re-invented pitcher usage.

With the series opening at Progressive Field on Tuesday, Cleveland is listed at +170 in series prices whereas the Cubs are the -190 favorite, according to sportsbooks monitored by

Chicago has gone nearly wire to wire at the top of the World Series futures board all season, and their odds during the postseason have never been lower than +250. At the outset of October, Cleveland had the longest odds of any division champion at +900 before going 7-1 to win the pennant.

Generally, the Cubs have been credited with the edge in starting pitching and defense, while the Indians possess the more diverse offense and the scarier bullpen.

For Game 1, the Cubs are the slight -112 favorite at the sportsbooks and the Indians have a -102 payout. The total is listed at 6.5 runs. Cleveland RHP Corey Kluber will start against Chicago LHP Jon Lester.

Kluber has pinpoint control, which suggests he won’t come unraveled against the Cubs’ teamwide plate discipline. The righty has faced the Cubs’ regulars only once this season, working three scoreless innings during  a spring training game in March.

The five-day respite since bouncing the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS presumably helps the bullpen of LHP Andrew Miller and RHP Cody Allen brace for more big workloads. The specter of having Miller, who’s been unhittable in the playoffs, come in as early in the sixth inning could have an effect on Cubs’ batters.

Cleveland’s lineup, whose power comes from 1B Mike Napoli, DH Carlos Santana and 2B Jason Kipnis, scored only 16 runs during the five-game ALCS against the Blue Jays. That might not suffice against the Cubs, who have almost a seven in 10 chance of winning the World Series according to website

Lester, who has spent most of his career in the American League, has a 3.72 ERA but a tidy opponents’ slash line of .225/.301/.329 (batting, on-base, slugging) in eight starts in Cleveland.

The Cubs scored 23 runs and had 33 hits in the last three wins of their NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The shorter break might assist 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Kris Bryant and SS Addison Russell with carrying over their NLCS success. Kyle Schwarber, who has not played since tearing an ACL in April, is expected to be the Cubs’ DH.

Francona and Cubs manager Joe Maddon have been opposing managers 133 times. Maddon has the slight 69-64 edge, including 5-3 in playoff games.

Cleveland is 14-6 over its last 20 home games against NL teams, and the total has gone over 12 times, according to the OddsShark MLB Database. Chicago is 13-7 over its last 20 road games against AL teams, and the total has gone over eight times.

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