Public backing Astros mainly because of underdog price point
October 24, 2017 3:03 AM
by Ramon Scott
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros – old rivals from the National League West from 1969 to 1993 – were both double-digit favorites to win the 2017 World Series prior to the start of the season.
Tonight, a Dodgers franchise that has won six world championships but hasn’t appeared in the Fall Classic in nearly 30 years hosts Game 1 of this year’s world championship against an expansion Houston club from 1962 – originally known as the Colt .45s – which has made just one Series appearance and has never won a World Series game.
The Dodgers were 10-to-1 at the start the 2017 regular season to win it all, while the Astros could’ve been had for 12-1.
A true testament to the quality of this modern day matchup is the number of overall wins of the two teams combined is the highest between the opponents since 1970.
Now, with the best-of-seven series set to begin this evening at Chavez Ravine, L.A. was an 8-to-5 favorite over the Astros, who are generally set to return 7-to-5.
Bookmakers have been quick to lament about their liability when the Dodgers win, you wonder what their thinking was behind the reasonable -160 series price.
On paper, the Dodgers’ advantage, especially in the pitching department, makes it seem as if they are willing to take a little action. The Dodgers seem stocked with high-quality arms, especially with stellar fireman Kenley Jansen, while the Astros – while fit with two top starters – have made a hodgepodge of their bullpen outside of closer Ken Giles.
Los Angeles is a -170 choice tonight with the majors’ top pitcher Clayton Kershaw going against Houston’s lefty Dallas Keuchel. The Dodgers were expected to use three left-handers in a deep four-man rotation barring disaster.
While that consensus price was up from -165, analysts were still predicting buy-back before tonight’s first pitch at 5:09 (all games on FOX) despite what would be sure to be more overwhelming public support on the Dodgers, especially here in Las Vegas.
Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS, but New York got him back in Game 5. Houston has won just one of its last seven road playoff games.
Still, while Kershaw grades out as the majors’ top pitcher and a top-five, performance pitcher overall this season, Keuchel projects out to just a Top 25 overall pitcher by our ranking, and his overall performance has been even slightly lower.
The matchup between Kershaw and the Astros’ Jose Altuve should be notable to watch in the series. Both players are likely future Hall of Famers. Still, this is a rare occasion to get Kershaw at such a low price, backed by a power-punch offense.
Kershaw is the favorite to be this year’s World Series Most Valuable Player at 3-to-1. Keuchel, along with late-season ‘Stros addition Justin Verlander are both 6-1, while Altuve and Dodgers’ rookie star Cody Bellinger are both 8-1. Our overlay would be on NLCS hero Justin Turner, who may get 10-to-1 to win the Willie Mays Award.
Money-line tickets were running 7-to-3 in favor of the Astros in the opener, but larger money-line bets were likely the cause of the dollar amount on the money-line running in favor of the underdog Astros.
HOU (EV, 7o25) at LAD (Wed., 5:09): The Dodgers were set on Rich Hill in Game 2, while the Astros were everything except committed to Verlander who continues to excel when many had wanted to count him as finished. And the late change in championship scenery has given the ALCS MVP a rejuvenated focus. He has lived up to our near-Top 10 expectation. Meanwhile, Hill projects out as a near-Top 10 starter for us, as well, but has underachieved in our ranking to just a Top 30 ranking. Houston’s offensive productivity away from Minute Maid Park in the postseason has been a major concern.
LAD (-135, 7.5o25) at HOU (Fri., 5:09): Los Angeles’ only right-handed series starter is Yu Darvish, who has quite a bit of experience facing much of this lineup after his years with the Rangers, and he has dealt this group to under a .200 average in well over 150 ABs. While Houston’s full rotation hadn’t been announced, A.J. Hinch certainly will feel compelled to go with Lance McCullers off his stellar performance with those 24-straight curveballs in relief in Game 7 against the Yankees.
LAD (-140, 8u20) at HOU (Sat., 5:09): The Dodgers’ Alex Wood went 7-1 on the road this season and exceeded all of our expectations, as he finished on our board as a near-Top 20 pitcher after being cast outside the Top 100 before the season. The Astros’ Charlie Morton is another guy who moved up from being just a Top 100 pitcher and into a near-Top 30 pitcher, especially with his strong start in Game 7. Still, the Astros could juggle the latter two if somehow they manage a victory in Los Angeles.