Red Sox at Astros AL Division Series Predictions
The Astros-Red Sox ALDS series may be the most intriguing of the early MLB playoff matchups for a few reasons - including the opportunity for betting enthusiasts to jump on a live underdog. With Game 1 set for Thursday, October 5 (4:08 PM EST) at Minute Maid Park in Houston, this best-of-three series has some interesting betting angles to consider outside the usual stats and numbers.
Red Sox (+135 series) vs Astros (-165 series)
So the Astros won a boatload of games this season, possess one of the most potent offenses in baseball and will roll out a pair of former Cy Young Award winners in the first two games.
And, oh by the way, they'll also enjoy home field advantage. Despite these clear advantages, they are relatively tepid favorites in this series... Why?
There are a couple of plausible reasons to play Boston:
1. Chris Sale
The old baseball adage that great pitching beats good hitting seems to have the most credence in the playoffs. While pitching hasn't been Boston's strong suit this season, lefty ace Chris Sale is as tough as any starter in the game. The stats bear that out, as Sale posted a 2.90 ERA while leading the majors in innings pitched and strikeouts.
Simply put, Sale is unorthodox and quirky. He's very capable of shutting down any lineup on any night and is resilient enough to come back strong if this series goes five games.
2. "October Readiness"
Organizationally, there are few - very few teams - that come close to accomplishing what Boston has since 2000. The Red Sox have won three World Series titles and 5 AL titles in this span, but how does this relate to their current roster? Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and "Big Papi" may not be walking through the door, but the younger generation of Sox got a taste of the postseason last year despite going three and out against Cleveland. Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts was a major part of the Sox 2013 World Series championship and should rebound from a poor postseason last year.
3. Boston bullpen
If Sale can come out and be the best version of himself in Game 1, the Red Sox will feel good about turning the ball over to their stellar pen in the 7th or 8th inning. Boston has the best closer in the business in Craig Kimbrel, who has been lights-out all year posting a 1.43 ERA.
For all David Price's documented struggles as a starter, he could give the Sox already gifted bullpen a tough lefty for extended relief or situational matchups.
4. More than meets the eye
For all the talk about Sale in Game 1, the Sox are also apt to feel pretty good about Drew Pomeranz in Game 2. He may not be a name with Cy Young appeal, but Pomeranz quietly went 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA this year and was even better after the All-Star break (8-2, 3.01). Verlander and Keuchel have the name, but Sale and Pomeranz have plenty of game too.
Predictions: Take Boston +135 or greater
I'll roll with Boston in this series for the simple fact that most casual fans and the mainstream media seem to be glossing over their chances. As I've mentioned, Vegas doesn't appear to be as easily swayed based on the odds available at most major sportsbooks and let's not forget this Red Sox team did win the notoriously tough AL East. Getting anythig better than +135 would be a gift in my opinion, but Boston's pitching will have to be on-point to spring the minor upset.
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