The Los Angeles Dodgers are four wins away from their first World Series title since 1988.
With ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound, the Dodgers are a minus-170 favorite over the Houston Astros and starter Dallas Keuchel in Game 1 on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Los Angeles is a consensus minus-160 Series favorite at Las Vegas sports books and the Astros are plus-140 underdogs to win their first world title.
Here are a best-of-7 series of reasons to bet on the Astros or Dodgers:
1. Kershaw’s on sale
“This is as low as Kershaw’s been at home all year,” Westgate sports book manager Ed Salmons said. “He’s always between (minus) 200 and (minus) 400. It’s because the Astros and Keuchel have a huge power rating.”
MGM Resorts bettors placed two six-figure wagers on the Dodgers to win the opener and a Westgate bettor made a big five-figure bet on Los Angeles to win Game 1.
“Kershaw’s the best starter in baseball,” handicapper Micah Roberts (Sportsline.com) said. “You don’t get many chances to lay less than 190 or 200 on Kershaw.”
The Dodgers are an incredible 26-4 in Kershaw’s starts this season.
Salmons projects the three-time Cy Young Award winner to be about only a minus-135 favorite in the same matchup in Game 5, if necessary, in Houston.
“All of these game prices, other than the first Kershaw game, will be fairly close to pick’em games,” he said.
2. Verlander’s on fire
The Astros ace is riding quite a hot streak as his team has won the past 10 games he’s pitched this season. Verlander, the American League Championship Series MVP, has allowed two earned runs or less in 12 straight outings.
Roberts recommends a play on the under in Tuesday’s Game 2, when Verlander will duel Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill.
“That’s a dead under at Dodger Stadium with Verlander as hot as he is right now,” he said.
3. Home cooking
Home teams have dominated in the playoffs, going 23-8, while favorites are 25-6 overall and 19-8 on the run line. The Dodgers, who have homefield advantage in the World Series, had baseball’s best home record in the regular season, going 57-24, and are 4-0 in the postseason at Chavez Ravine. Houston is 6-0 at home in the playoffs.
4. Road warriors
The Astros were tied with the Indians for the best road record in the regular season at 53-28, but have won only one of five road games in the postseason, losing all three ALCS games at Yankee Stadium. Houston also has a 50-30-6 over-under mark on the road, including playoffs.
5. Dodgers bullpen
The Dodgers bullpen has been lights out in the playoffs, compiling a 0.94 ERA and 32 strikeouts with only two walks. Led by closer Kenley Jansen and setup man Brandon Morrow, Los Angeles’ relievers are riding a postseason-record 23-inning scoreless streak.
6. Astros offense
Houston is baseball’s highest-scoring team this season, averaging 5.43 runs per game behind batting champion Jose Altuve (.346) and shortstop Carlos Correa (.315, 24 home runs). But the Astros have slumped in the playoffs, batting only .247 and scoring only nine runs in the first five games of the ALCS, before totaling 11 in winning the final two games at home.
The Dodgers are batting .273 behind Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig and unusual suspects Enrique Hernandez and Charlie Culberson.
Salmons expects Houston’s bats to come alive against Los Angeles and said they’re live as plus-150 underdogs.
“If I was betting, I would definitely bet the Astros at the big plus price,” he said. “They’re real live.”
7. Kershaw’s moment
Roberts predicted the Dodgers would win the World Series before the season started and sees Kershaw — who was born in Dallas the last year L.A. won it all — leading them to the promised land.
“They have the best starter in baseball, the best rotation and the best bullpen,” he said. “They just beat the world champs and they’ve got their swagger back.
“Kershaw will win two games in the series, the MVP and the whole ball of wax. He gets to go back to Texas and it all comes back to him. This is his moment.”
World Series betting
Odds posted at Westgate, William Hill and Station Casinos sports books
Los Angeles Dodgers; -160
Houston Astros; +140
Game 1, Tuesday, Dodger Stadium
Astros (Keuchel); +160
Dodgers (Kershaw); -170
— — —
Astros +1½; -150
Dodgers -1½; +130
— — —
Over 7; +110
Under 7; -130
Series exact result
Astros win in 4; 12-1
Astros win in 5; 8-1
Astros win in 6; 6-1
Astros win in 7; 13-2
Dodgers win in 4; 7-1
Dodgers win in 5; 9-2
Dodgers win in 6; 4-1
Dodgers win in 7; 4-1