Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox stay even on 2017 World Series odds

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Timing will be everything if one is inclined to bet on either the Boston Red Sox or the Chicago Cubs to win the 2017 World Series, due to the effect of big-market bandwagon fandom.

With Opening Day just more than a week away, the Cubs and Red Sox are each listed at +450 on the odds to win the World Series at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

There’s a chance the odds might not get more high-yield once the season starts. With their giant fanbases in the Midwest and New England, both will draw plenty of betting action and odds could fall closer to even money if either has a hot start in April. The teams were both also listed at +450 at the outset of spring training.

The Cubs, who are also +175 to win the National League Pennant, have a nucleus of young stars – 3B Kris Bryant, 2B Javier Baez, SS Addison Russell, 1B Anthony Rizzo – who might stay together for several seasons. The big variable, as always, is the health and performance of the pitching staff; the Cubs are looking for a bounce-back from new closer Wade Davis.

The Red Sox, after three years of regenerating since their 2013 World Series win, have added ace LHP Chris Sale to their rotation and have their own cohort of young offensive stars such as SS Xander Bogaerts and RF Mookie Betts.

Boston has to replace the run production of retired DH David Ortiz, but are a solid choice given that they are the AL East team which is most in win-now mode. The Toronto Blue Jays (+2200) might have missed their window, while the New York Yankees (+2500) are still a year away from their peak.

The upside of the Cubs and Red Sox being so highly touted is that it might inflate prices on other teams – and hey, postseason baseball is a wide-open game. The Cleveland Indians (+900), who were one win away last season and added RBI machine Edwin Encarnacion, still have an excellent shot at getting back to the postseason.

The National League’s other teams in major markets, the Los Angeles Dodgers (+1000), San Francisco Dodgers (+1100) and New York Mets (+1400), have all come down slightly in price since mid-February. All three certainly have the pitching to make a run in October, but perhaps not the balanced lineup.

One team whose odds has been surprisingly static since the winter meetings in October is the Houston Astros (+1400), who have one of the game’s most offensively prolific double-play combos with Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. The Astros’ late-season stumbles of the past two years might be a fixed reference point for many baseball fans, but they have been following the model of slow-growing their prospects over a period of several years.

New York Yankees underdogs at Boston Red Sox in opener of series between rivals

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The relative health of each AL East rival’s lineup could lead to some betting trends being reversed when the New York Yankees pay their first visit of the season to Fenway Park to face the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox are the -127 betting favorite against the +107 underdog Yankees with an 8-run total in the matchup for the series opener on Tuesday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Boston is 8-2 straight-up over its last 10 home games in April and 9-4 over its last 13 home games against division opponents, according to the OddsShark MLB Database. The Yankees are also just 2-8 in their last 10 road games against Boston as the underdog.

That being said, Boston might have some injury-related MIAs with 2B Dustin Pedroia (ankle/knee) and 3B Pablo Sandoval (knee) both considered questionable. Super-utility player Brock Holt (vertigo) is also sidelined. It’s doubtful the Yankees are going to have any sympathy as they labor on without SS Didi Gregorius (shoulder) and C-DH Gary Sanchez (biceps).

Tuesday’s pitching matchup includes two righty power arms, with the Yankees’ Luis Severino facing the Red Sox’s Rick Porcello. Severino is coming off back-to-back double-digit strikeout efforts and will be seeking his first career win at Fenway Park.

The total has gone under in all three of Severino’s career starts against Boston. The total has gone under in seven of Porcello’s last 10 starts against the Yankees.

Righty Masahiro Tanaka is the Yankees’ scheduled starter on Wednesday, while Chris Sale will face New York for the first time since his off-season trade from Chicago.

In his most recent start, Tanaka had excellent command of his signature split-finger fastball. Although the total has gone over in seven of Tanaka’s last 10 starts against Boston, head-to-head he’s done well against Red Sox hitters such as Xander Bogaerts (.222 lifetime), Mookie Betts (.167), Hanley Ramirez (.154), and Jackie Bradley Jr. (.118).

Sale has had 10 or more strikeouts in three consecutive starts and the total has yet to be higher than five in any of his outings.

An all-lefty matchup is on tap for Thursday, with the Yankees’ CC Sabathia opposite Boston’s Drew Pomeranz. Sabathia has a poor career record at Fenway Park (5.25 ERA in 16 starts), but the total has gone under in eight of the lefthander’s last 10 starts against Boston.

Pomeranz has had trouble being efficient and going deep into games this season. The total has gone under in three of Pomeranz’s four career starts against the Yankees at online sports betting sites.

Cubs, Dodgers lead way on MLB win total props for 2017 season

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Not surprisingly, three of the last four teams standing in late October have the three highest season win totals in Major League Baseball preseason betting.

The reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs are projected for 95.5 wins according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, marking the second season in a row that the Northsiders have had the highest total.

After the Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers (93.5), Cleveland Indians (92.5) and Boston Red Sox (92.5) fill out the top four. The Washington Nationals (90.5) are the other team in the ’90 club.’

There’s a distinct chance the Cubs, with a fully healthy Kyle Schwarber joining 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Kris Bryant and SS Addison Russell, could beat their projection. The Cubs also seem unlikely to face a major push from their NL Central opponents, who form nearly half their schedule.

The St. Louis Cardinals (84.5) are retooling and the Pittsburgh Pirates (82.5) could end up dealing CF Andrew McCutchen, a one-time NL MVP, before the July 31 trade deadline.

Of the two American League powerhouses, Boston and Cleveland, the Red Sox are projected to have the more potent offense. That tends to win out in the long run across 162 games, before pitching takes over in the postseason due to chillier weather and more off-days. The Indians could have some regression.

The Nationals always seem to have good regular seasons. It’s important to remember that their NL East rivals, the New York Mets (89.5), were still strong last season in spite of a plethora of injuries.

The team which oddsmakers see taking the biggest drop is the Texas Rangers (84.5), who had 95 wins in 2016 but had a likely unsustainable record in one-run games. Their cross-state rival, the Houston Astros (89.5), have the highest total of anyone in the AL West. As a young team on the rise, the Astros might be a little under the radar.

The Minnesota Twins (74.5) are pegged for the biggest jump after having just 59 wins last season. The Twins haven’t done a lot to upgrade their pitching, though, and could move 42-home run man Brian Dozier before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Speaking of the deadline, other big names such as McCutchen, Oakland Athletics RHP Sonny Gray and Chicago White Sox LHP Jose Quintana may all be on the move to contenders. In that event, the Athletics (73.5) and White Sox (69.5) could end up on the under side.

The San Diego Padres (66.5) are pegged for the worst record in baseball, but with 1B Wil Myers and RF Hunter Renfroe, they’ll at least be an interesting bad team. Some breakout from their youngsters could help the Padres beat their projection. The White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers (also 69.5) are the other teams with a prop of fewer than 70 wins.