Los Angeles Dodgers’ World Series odds dip heading into month of September

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The Los Angeles Dodgers’ first losing skid all season has done little to increase their World Series price, which is lower than the 2016 Chicago Cubs’ at the same point of last season.

As they get set to welcome ace Clayton Kershaw back after a six-week absence, the Dodgers are a +220 favorite on the 2017 World Series odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. That’s a fair shot below the +290 another National League legacy franchise, the aforementioned Cubs, commanded last season as the calendar flipped to September.

The Houston Astros are the not-so-close second favorite at +500, with the Boston Red Sox (+700), Washington Nationals (+700), Cleveland Indians (+700) and the Cubs (+750) all below 10/1 odds.

The best news for potential Dodgers bettors is that their five-game losing streak – which involved consecutive series losses against the Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks – might have prevented a rush of casual-bettor money. It will likely also take Kershaw, who will be on a 75-pitch count when he starts on Friday, a few starts to show that he’s in peak form after missing more than a month with a back injury.

In other words, the Dodgers’ price might not move until the September 15-17 weekend, when they visit the Nationals in a  potential NLCS preview.

If either the Astros or Nationals are to make a deep playoff run, they’ll have to score enough in the playoffs to offset their leaky bullpens. Each division leader’s relief corps has an earned run average north of 4.00, which does not fit the recent formula for winning in the postseason.

Either Boston or Cleveland is an acceptable alternative if one is looking for more value than the Dodgers offer, or simply hates laying chalk. The Indians and Red Sox are second and third in MLB in bullpen ERA, and each boasts a staff ace – Corey Kluber for Cleveland, Chris Sale for Boston – who’s capable of flipping a best-of-seven series by winning two games. Those two hurlers are also battling atop the odds to win the AL Cy Young.

The difficulty picking one right now is the fact they would be playing each other in the ALDS if the playoffs were starting this weekend.

It will be interesting to see how the line on the Cubs moves over the next month, especially with a not overly demanding September schedule where they play only two series – both against the Milwaukee Brewers (+5000), their closest pursuer in the NL Central – against a team with a winning record.

Of the two wild card leaders, the Arizona Diamondbacks at +3300 have a far better price than the New York Yankees (+1400) and probably have a better case as a World Series darkhorse.

The Diamondbacks have star power on both ends of the equation (RHP Zack Greinke, 1B Paul Goldschmidt). As a wild card, they could potentially play the Dodgers in the NLDS, which as a best-of-five series has a higher chance of an upset. The Yankees might not have the pitching to win in October, plus there’s the matter of rookie Aaron Judge’s drop-off in play.


Astros remain World Series betting favorite after All-Star break

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The latest World Series futures reflect that the American League is a shallow circuit, which might also help protect the value on the National League’s top contenders to raise the Commissioner’s Trophy.

The defending World Series champion Houston Astros are the +400 favorite in 2018 World Series betting lines as the second half of the Major League Baseball season resumes, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Their AL counterparts, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, are next on the board at +450, with the Los Angeles Dodgers (+650) and Chicago Cubs (+700) having the top odds out of the NL.

No team has repeated as World Series champion since the 1998-2000 Yankees won three in a row. However, laying chalk on Houston is a pragmatic play. The Astros are in the top five in MLB in runs scored, like five of the last 10 champions were in the regular season. Thanks in large part to Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, they also went into the all-star break first in starting pitching ERA. Four of the last 10 champions have finished the regular season sixth or higher in this category.

Picking between the Red Sox and Yankees, one of whose season will come down a one-game wild-card series in October, depends on what a bettor believes counts for more in October: starting pitching or the bullpen. The Red Sox have performed better on the front end, while the Yankees are stingier in the late innings.

For what it might be worth, the National League champion has won the last six even-year World Series. The senior circuit is also more competitive – the AL has three teams on pace for 100 losses to match its big three on pace for 100 wins – and that could bear fruit in the post-season.

The Dodgers, through picking up all-star shortstop Manny Machado as a rental player earlier this week, have signaled they are all in on winning their first World Series title in 30 years. The Dodgers’ World Series odds could also be a reflection on the slow start they had this season; despite injuries that included a brief loss of No. 1 starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw, they still have a top-10 offense and pitching staff.

The Cubs are also in the top 10 in runs scored and fewest runs allowed. They are also a less risky pick than the Dodgers at this stage, given that their only competition in their division appears to be the Milwaukee Brewers (+2000), while the Dodgers have the the Arizona Diamondbacks (+2000), San Francisco Giants (+2500) and Colorado Rockies (+3300) within striking distance in the NL West race.

The speculative play is the Cleveland Indians (+1200), who go into the second half with the largest divisional lead in MLB. The big question with Cleveland is how much its trade for all-star left-handed reliever Brad Hand improves a bullpen that was among MLB’s worst during the first half. Cleveland is third in run scored and has the second-most efficient starting pitching corps, led by Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber.

It’s not unheard-of for a team whose bullpen was mediocre over the run of 162 games to win after putting it together for three post-season series.

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.

Houston Astros Now World Series Favorite Against Los Angeles Dodgers

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The line on the World Series has shifted to the Houston Astros, but do keep in mind that having home-field advantage for Games 6 and 7 tilts the chances of a Los Angeles Dodgers comeback.

Up 3-2 in the best-of-seven Fall Classic, the Astros are now the -275 favorite against the +225 underdog Dodgers on the World Series prices at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

There is a convincing argument to lay chalk with Houston and its name is Justin Verlander, the Astros’ starter for Game 6 on Tuesday. Historical trends, though, would suggest backing the Dodgers to make the comeback, especially at better than 2-to-1 odds.

In MLB history going back to 1985, 14 of the 28 teams, or exactly half, who have trailed any best-of-seven series 3-2 with the final two games at home have come back to win. The result in Game 5 has had little effect on outcomes, as eight of the 17 who lost Game 5 on the road – like the Dodgers did on Sunday – have come back to win.

Teams which have managed to tie the series in Game 6 at home are also 14-2 in Game 7s. In fact, none other than the Astros added to that tally with their comeback against the New York Yankees in the ALCS.

All time, 43 of 65 teams which had a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win. Twenty-five clinched in Game 6, the other 40 who were forced to a winner-take-all contest are only 18-22 all-time in Game 7s.

While this series has been all about expecting the unexpected, that would suggest that if Houston is to win, it will happen on Tuesday. The Dodgers are a slight -112 favorite with the Astros coming back at -108, while the total is at 8.0 runs.

While Houston is turning to Verlander, the Dodgers will counter with left-hander Rich Hill. Both will go on five days’ rest.

Verlander has been close to untouchable with a 1.53 earned-run average in the regular season and postseason since joining Houston in late August. Verlander’s teams are 5-0 in his last five away starts, and the total has gone under in seven of his 10 most recent road starts with the Astros and Detroit Tigers.

Hill, for his part, has a 2.77 ERA this season at Dodger Stadium and has held batters to a .179 average. However, the total has gone over in three of his last four starts at Dodger Stadium.

Both bullpens were overworked in Game 5. Kenley Jensen was the only Dodgers reliever who threw more than 30 pitches. Three different Astros relievers threw at least 29.  Houston closer Ken Giles has also had a wretched postseason and might not be trustworthy enough to use in a one-run or tied game.