Prior to the start of the League Championship Series the Los Angeles Dodgers were 140 favorites to win the National League pennant, despite opening play on the road in St. Louis.
Boston was roughly a 125 favorite in the American League and did hold the home field advantage over Detroit.
Game 3 in the NLCS was played Monday evening in Los Angeles and the Dodgers were on the verge of going down 3-0 unless able to defeat St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright.
Because of the best of five format in the League Divisional Series, teams are not able to set up their pitching rotations as best desired unless the result is a three game sweep and there are more than a couple of off days in between.
The Dodgers were able to start their top duo of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke but because the Cardinals were extended to five games in their series against Pittsburgh their ace, Wainwright, was not available for either of the first two games played in St. Louis.
St. Louis won both of those games by a single run. The first was Friday night’s 3-2 win, which went 13 innings and left both Kershaw and the Cardinals’ Joe Kelly with well-pitched no decisions. On Saturday, St. Louis rookie Michael Wacha out-pitched Greinke in the Cards’ 1-0 game in which the lone run allowed by Greinke was unearned.
Monday’s Game 3 opened with St. Louis and Wainwright 125 road favorites over the Dodgers. Money came in on the Dodgers and by mid-morning Monday the Cards were down to -115 against Los Angeles lefty H.J. Ryu.
The total of 6.5 was in line with what would be expected between a pair of teams that have shown an inability to score in the first two games.
Boston needed a grand slam by David Ortiz in the bottom of the eighth inning in Sunday’s Game 2 to tie Detroit at 5-5 before winning the game in the bottom of the ninth. A loss on Sunday would have been more damaging to the Red Sox than the 0-2 deficit is to the Dodgers as LA’s two losses came on the road, whereas Boston’s two defeats would have been at Fenway Park.
As a result of Ortiz’ heroics and the win that followed an inning later, Boston heads to Detroit even at one game apiece but having to face the Tigers’ Justin Verlander, who has been virtually unhittable over the past month and especially during the post season. Verlander was -150 over Boston’s John Lackey in Tuesday’s Game 3. The total is 7.5.
It’s risky at best to predict how a baseball series will unfold and play out without knowing the status of the series in advance and what the starting pitching matchups will be.
For example, St. Louis is expected to start Lance Lynn in Tuesday’s fourth game against the Dodgers, whether they are up two games to one or on the verge of a 4-0 sweep. The Dodgers may turn to Ricky Nolasco if they are down 2-1 with a win on Monday or may turn to either Kershaw or Greinke on short rest in an attempt to stave off a sweep.
The preference would be to play on the Dodgers in Tuesday’s fourth game if they won on Monday and are not starting either Greinke or Kershaw.
If the Cardinals are looking to sweep the Dodgers and are underdogs against either Greinke or Kershaw, the play would be on the Cards to end the series in four games.
If the Dodgers are still alive for a fifth game on Wednesday and are starting either Greinke or Kershaw, they would be playable if laying no more than 140, whether they are facing elimination or looking to take a 3-2 series lead.
If the Dodgers are up 3-2 headed back to St. Louis for a sixth (and potentially seventh) game, the Dodgers would be plays as underdogs in one or both games. But the better play for the balance of the series would be the UNDER, especially at 7 or higher. We also like it at 6.5 if Wainwright, Wacha, Greinke or Kershaw are involved.
In the AL, Boston will be playable as underdogs in any of the three games in Detroit. If the series returns to Boston, the Tigers would be playable in Game 6 if seeking to stay alive. Boston would be playable in a seventh and deciding game regardless of the pitching matchups if favored by 125 or less.
Totals may be played OVER if the line is 7.5 or lower, unless the matchups are Detroit’s Scherzer or Verlander opposing Boston’s Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester or Lackey, in which case UNDER 7.5 or higher would be playable.
Next week’s column will preview the World Series, which is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]