Hopefully, you’ve been betting on underdogs throughout the MLB postseason.
The teams with the five best regular season records — Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays, and Milwaukee Brewers — went a combined 1-13 straight-up in the first two rounds of the postseason. Only the Braves, who posted an MLB-best 104-58 record, claimed a win in that group.
In the divisional round, three of the four winners did not have home-field advantage, with the exception of the Houston Astros, who advanced to their seventh straight American League Championship Series by defeating the Minnesota Twins in four games.
The Philadelphia Phillies, who bested the Braves for the second consecutive postseason, are now the World Series favourites at +200 after opening the postseason with long +1200 odds to win the Commissioner’s Trophy.
Philadelphia Phillies to win World Series
We’re now left with a field full of underdogs as the pair of League Championship Series get underway on Sunday when the Astros host the Texas Rangers. The combined 354 regular-season wins between the Astros, Rangers, Diamondbacks, and Phillies is the fewest ever for the final four teams in the playoffs, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Let’s take a look at bet365‘s World Series and League Championship Series odds for the four remaining teams.
World Series odds
|Team||World Series Odds Before WC Round||Current World Series Odds|
Hopefully, you already had a futures bet placed on one or more of these teams prior to the start of the postseason because you won’t find good value now. Although the Phillies have the shortest odds of the remaining four teams, the Astros and Rangers are nipping at their heels with relatively short odds themselves. Even the Diamondbacks’ current odds at +450 are a tough pill to swallow after they were offered at +4000 prior to the start of the postseason and +1600 prior to their divisional series with the Dodgers.
Championship Series prices
|Team||To Win Series||Prediction|
|Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers||Astros (-140), Rangers (+120)||Rangers|
|Philadelphia Phillies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks||Phillies (-185), Diamondbacks (+165)||Phillies|
Let’s start with the ALCS. The Astros took nine of the 13 regular-season meetings with the Rangers and this will be the first postseason meeting between the two Texas teams. Both teams will be able to line up their starting pitchers exactly how they want them thanks to finishing off their opponents quickly.
The big question is whether or not Max Scherzer (shoulder) will be on the Rangers’ roster for the series. He threw a 60-pitch bullpen simulation on Wednesday and he told FOX reporter Ken Rosenthal following the team’s divisional round win that he’s “in a good spot” when asked about his availability for the next round. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is the perfect counter for the Rangers to line up with Houston’s Justin Verlander, and that’s a matchup we all want to see.
Texas’s bullpen posted an ugly 4.77 ERA during the regular season and only converted 30 of its 63 save opportunities (47%), but the group has been solid in the postseason. Relievers Jose Leclerc, Aroldis Chapman, Josh Sborz, and Cody Bradford have combined for 13 2/3 innings with only one run allowed. Can they hold it together in a longer seven-game series?
The Rangers have scored 32 runs through five playoff games (6.4 runs per game) to lead all postseason teams despite playing fewer games than the Phillies (31 runs scored). This team is confident and has momentum, and if Scherzer triumphantly returns from injury, it’ll be a huge shot in the arm. It won’t be pretty, but Texas could just slug its way to the Fall Classic.
Texas Rangers to win series
Now to the NLCS. The Phillies might have the biggest home-field advantage in MLB. Their fans heckled the Braves, especially Orlando Arcia and Spencer Strider, right out of the playoffs. Citizens Bank Park has been LOUD and the players have responded by seemingly crushing homers at will at their home ballpark.
But the Diamondbacks are swinging the bats well, too. They forced Dodgers starting pitchers to toss a total of just 4 2/3 innings over the three-game series, even taking Lance Lynn deep four times in the same inning! Arizona’s young core seems unphased by the pressure of the postseason, led by NL Rookie of the Year candidate Corbin Carroll, who is slashing .412/.565/.824 with two home runs through his first five career postseason games.
This extended seven-game series could come down to starting pitching depth, an area in which the Phillies have the advantage. Both teams have formidable duos at the top of their respective rotations (Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen for the D-Backs and Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler for the Phillies), but Philadelphia has to feel good about rolling out any combination of Ranger Suarez, Taijuan Walker, and Christopher Sanchez, as needed, whether that’s in a starting or long relief role. Arizona’s starting depth is thin, with rookie Brandon Pfaadt slotting in behind Kelly and Gallen. It’s likely that both Kelly and Gallen will be asked to start games on short rest later in the series, especially if the D-Backs fall behind early.
The Phillies just have too much momentum to fall short of their World Series aspirations now. And with home advantage in the series, their rabid fanbase should help propel them to the Fall Classic.