The dog days of summer are over. It’s time for some postseason magic.
The Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers are the baseball betting line favorites to win their respective leagues and clash in the World Series.
The Red Sox (+175) are the top pick in the American League (future odds provided by Bovada). The defending champion Houston Astros are next at +200. The Cleveland Indians, the AL Central Division champs, offer great value at +550.
In the National League, the Dodgers, who won the pennant for the first time in 29 years last season, are the favorites to repeat at +175. The Milwaukee Brewers, who edged the Chicago Cubs in a tiebreaker game to claim the NL Central Division, are next at +325. The Atlanta Braves, who easily won the East, are +400.
A futures bet is any wager where the outcome will be decided in the future. The key here is that the bet is not on the individual game or series, but is on the entire league championship for both the American League or National League. This bet will stretch over most of this month (odds provided by Bovada).
Boston and L.A. are listed at +175, which means if a bettor wagers $100 on either team to win its league pennant, the payoff would be $275 ($100 bet + $175 profit = $275 total return).
How about the Indians or the Braves? A $100 bet on Cleveland would return $650 ($100 bet + $550 profit = $650 total return). A $100 bet on Atlanta would return $500 ($100 bet + $400 profit = $500 total return).
Even though the odds will change with the result of each series, your odds are fixed at the time of your bet.
The Red Sox await the winner of the wild card game between the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics. The Red Sox were 10-9 against the Yankees this season and 2-4 against the A’s.
Thanks to an offense powered by MVP candidates Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts, Boston led the majors in runs scored and batting average. Their pitching staff finished third in ERA (3.75), but they were ninth in walks.
The Red Sox, who had the second best run differential in baseball at +229, are almost impossible to beat at Fenway (57-24), which will go a long way in the playoffs.
The defending World Series champions became the first team in 13 years to win 100 games in back-to-back seasons, thanks to the best starting staff in the AL.
The Astros’ entire pitching staff posted a league best ERA (3.11) and had three 15-game winners in Justin Verlander (16-9), Gerrit Cole (15-5) and Charlie Morton (15-3).
The all-star batting trio of George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa all missed time this season due to injuries, but the team didn’t miss a beat away from Minute Maid Park at 57-24 — the best road record in baseball by far.
Last year’s championship experience should carry the Astros a long way.
For the third straight year, the Indians won the Central Division, and yet they still get little respect from oddsmakers.
Their pitching staff posted the fourth best ERA in the league (3.77) and included two terrific starters in Corey Kluber (20-7) and Carlos Carrasco (17-10). Add to that a lineup which includes Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Michael Brantley and Josh Donaldson and the Indians could do some damage over the next month.
Cleveland needs to improve on its road record after finishing just three games above .500 (42-39) this season. They won three-of-seven against the Astros in the regular season.
ALCS Prediction — Houston (+200). The best ERA in the American League and an outstanding road record fuels a return to the World Series.
Los Angeles (+175)
The reigning NL champions had to win a tiebreaker to capture their sixth straight West Division title. They now meet the Braves in the first round of the playoffs after beating them in five-of-seven in the regular season.
The Dodgers’ pitching staff, with ace Clayton Kershaw (9-5), led the NL in ERA (3.38) and quality starts (95).
Infielder Corey Seager went down early, but the Dodgers replaced him with all-star Manny Machado. And two of their best hitters were big surprises in Max Muncy and Matt Kemp. L.A. also had the best run differential of the 15 NL teams at +194.
The Dodgers struggled early in the season, but finished 20-10 in their last 30 games. They are deserving favorites.
If you’re looking for the hottest team in baseball, look no further than this team. The Brewers have won eight in a row, including 15-5 over their last 20 and 23-7 in their last 30.
Milwaukee has never won an NLCS title. The last time they made it to the World Series was in 1982 as the American League champions. They lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.
The Brewers, who play the winner of the NL wild card game, had a league-best 96-57 record, including a 51-30 mark at Miller Park.
Christian Yelich has put up MVP numbers for the Brew Crew, with 36 homers, 110 RBIs and a .326 batting average. They have just one 15-game winner in Jhoulys Chacin (15-8), but their pitching staff ranks fourth overall.
The Braves, who last won the pennant in 1999, reached the playoffs for the first time in five years.
The East Division champs, who had a better road record (47-34) than at home (43-38), struggled down the stretch — 10-10 in their last 20 games and 16-14 in their last 30.
Even though their pitching staff had the fifth-best ERA (3.75), none of their starters spark much fear in opposing hitters. Their staff also led the league in walks.
The play of superstar rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. and MVP-contender Freddie Freeman will keep them in games, as will one of the best defenses in the majors.
NLCS Prediction — Milwaukee (+325). The Brewers are streaking at the perfect time. This could be their perfect season.