The Houston Astros’ bats appear to be coming around, the bullpen has apparently returned to dominance, and the defending World Series champs just swept a 10-game road trip to signal their reminder to the rest of this year’s would-be contenders just who is the team to beat in 2018.
Houston hasn’t been a big splash at the betting window, profiting just over 5.5 units heading into the week, but that hasn’t slowed bettors’ interest, as the public reportedly continues to play the ‘Stros, especially on the run-line despite prices ranging well over -150.
The Astros also have cleared over 8.25 betting units as a favorite coming into this week, which puts them near top profiting favorites Milwaukee, Boston and the Yankees.
But before we start calling for an end to sports dynasties, Houston is still mostly considered co-favorites with the Yankees to win both the AL pennant and the World Series.
The Yankees’ bullpen has been even more dominant, and more consistent than Houston’s this season, if that is even possible. Houston also plays in one of the majors’ lowest-scoring environments this season, thanks in part to its dominant pitching staff.
No team has been worse as a favorite than the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have cost backers nearly 25 units so far this season. Cleveland has been the second-worst when laying the chalk, but the Indians aren’t even close to L.A.’s money-burning ways, dropping just over 10 units when laying the price.
Atlanta, Colorado and Detroit have been the favorite of underdog bettors so far this season, all clearing nearly 11 units or more in the role.
There also have been some pretty bad underdogs this season, as Kansas City and Cincinnati were both down over 14 units after last weekend.
The Baltimore Orioles, however, have been a bettor’s best fade this season, no matter what the role.
The O’s are down as many as 30 units overall by most accounts, including a dreadful 20-dime deficit as an underdog.
BRAVES (-130, 9o20) at BLUE JAYS (Wed., 9:37): Jays are 9-5 in J.A. Happ’s starts and he’s won four of his last six outings with a pair of no-decisions, but Atlanta is 10-5 on the road versus left-handers this season and Toronto’s down over five units at home. The Braves’ Anibal Sanchez is up over five units so far this season and has an ERA of 1.93. ATL, 5-4
MARLINS (+125, 9o15) at SF GIANTS (Wed., 12:45): Miami’s Jose Urena certainly has pitched slightly better than his horrendous 0-7 start indicated and now he’s been rewarded with wins in two of his last three decisions. Derek Holland doesn’t go deep for San Fran, but is coming off a pair of nice five-inning road efforts at L.A. and Washington. SF, 6-4
BREWERS (-109, 8.5o20) at PIRATES (Wed., 4:05): Milwaukee left-hander Brent Suter has won six of his last eight starts, while the Brewers have been a big winner against right-handed starters. Bucs’ Chad Kuhl gives them a chance with his 4-1 home mark in night games and a 3.43 ERA overall and he’s held these bats under .200 over 86 PAs. MIL, 5-4
CUBS (-170, 9.5u15) at REDS (Thur., 4:10): Matt Harvey has been awful with Cincinnati with a 1-5 record and an ERA close to six, but has been a break-even pitcher at the window. Cubs’ chalk-eater Kyle Hendricks has been one of the biggest losers for bettors this season, dropping over 12 units so far despite a 3.56 ERA overall. CUBS, 7-3
DODGERS (-145, 8u15) at METS (Fri., 4:10): Lefty Alex Wood is down nearly five units and has picked up a win just twice over the last two months. He’s held this Mets roster to under .200 over more than 50 PAs. Mets’ Zack Wheeler hasn’t won since April 29 and is down nearly six units this year for backers. L.A. has hit Wheeler hard in a couple of instances. LAD, 4-3
PADRES (+130, 8) at GIANTS (Fri., 7:15): Inconsistent Jordan Lyles was strong for seven innings for the Padres on Saturday at Atlanta, but the Braves still cashed as a -185 home favorite. The Giants’ Chris Stratton has dominated this San Diego lineup in a couple of appearances (.074 avg., 30 PAs) and is up over eight units for backers this season. SF, 4-3.
RANGERS (+140, 9.5) at TWINS (Sat., 11:10): Texas recalled Yovani Gallardo to start on Sunday and the result wasn’t great, but he’s needed for now after pitching at Triple-A Red Rock, where he allowed just one home run. Twins to start with Jake Odorizzi, who hasn’t won since May 8, but he is allowing around a .225 average to these Ranger bats all-time. MIN, 6-4
KC ROYALS (+200, 8o20) at ASTROS (Sat., 4:15): Astros’ Lance McCullers Jr. has an 8-3 overall record and a 2.37 ERA at home, but is just barely a break-even pitcher this season as the usual chalk. Royals’ Rule 5 starter Brad Keller, a 22-year-old, gets another chance after showing good numbers this season in a relief role and stretching out in four starts since. HOU, 5-3
MARINERS (+150, 8) at RED SOX (Sun., 10:05): Chris Sale has limited this roster to just a .208 avg. over 108 PAs and only Nelson Cruz has a HR against him, which he did twice. Sale was down seven units heading into Tuesday’s game at Minnesota. M’s Marco Gonzalez has one loss over his last 10 starts and was up five units into Tuesday’s game at the Yanks. BOS, 4-3
PHILS (NL) at NATIONALS (Sun., 5:05): The pitching situation for Washington is extremely unclear both short- and near-term with conclusion of suspended game on Monday. Bryce Harper has hit one of his worrisome slumps, but the Phillies have Nick Pivetta on the hill, who’s lost four-straight, but Harper has two homers off the Phils’ hurler in just five plate PAs.