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Rays attract early World Series bets; Dodgers push expected

The Rays money arrived early, but sportsbooks know the Dodgers money is coming.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are -210 favorites at the Westgate to beat the Tampa Bay Rays (+180) and win their first World Series since 1988. The Rays are seeking their first World Series title.

The series starts Tuesday at a neutral site in Arlington, Texas.

Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said there was an “initial push on the Rays” that moved the line down Sunday.

“They played +185, +175 and +170,” he said Monday. “… We saw some money come back on the Dodgers late last night.”

Station was at Dodgers -200/Rays +170 on Monday.

Westgate sportsbook manager Randy Blum said the book took initial bets on the Rays, but there was no concern about attracting money on the Dodgers.

“We know that’s coming,” he said.

On Monday, the best price available in Las Vegas on the Dodgers was -200 at Caesars Entertainment and Station. The best price on the Rays was +185 at the Golden Nugget, South Point and William Hill.

Circa Sports is offering the Dodgers -1½ games in the series at -105, meaning bettors win if Los Angeles wins the series in six games (4-2) or fewer.

Blum said the Westgate is playing with house money in the series. He said the sportsbook wins mid-six figures on World Series futures if the Rays win and breaks even if the Dodgers win. That gives the book plenty of room to manage the money throughout the series and ensure a profit, he said.

The Dodgers and Rays survived Game 7s to reach the World Series, with Los Angeles staging a comeback and Tampa Bay avoiding a collapse. The Dodgers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Atlanta Braves. Tampa Bay blew a 3-0 lead against the Houston Astros before winning the finale.

Blum said the series price is a little inflated and the Rays are a “live dog.”

“They have great depth, but does Tampa have enough firepower?” he said. “They were struggling to score against the Astros.”

Tampa Bay scored four runs or fewer in six of the games against the Astros (and five in the other one).

Pitching shouldn’t be a problem for either team — at least Clayton Kershaw hopes not.

The Dodgers ace will start Game 1 on Tuesday against Tampa Bay’s Tyler Glasnow. The Dodgers are -165 favorites in the game (Rays +155) at the Westgate; the total is 7½.

Esposito said he is eager to see how Kershaw performs with his reputation for playoff struggles. The left-hander has a career 2.43 ERA in the regular season, but that balloons to 4.31 in the playoffs and 5.40 in the World Series.

“So much is on Kershaw,” Esposito said. “He has a lot on the line.”

The Dodgers as a whole have a lot on the line in their third trip to the World Series in four years. They lost 4-3 to Houston in 2017 in a series now tainted by the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, and the Dodgers lost to Boston 4-1 in 2018.

Blum said his concerns about Los Angeles rest on manager Dave Roberts and a propensity to “overmanage” in certain spots with his pitching staff.

Esposito said that as a sportsbook director, he’s rooting for the series to go at least six games, especially with a popular public team in the Dodgers.

“For our industry, having the Dodgers in it is a good thing,” he said. “We should see increased handle and more people in the sportsbook.”

Contact jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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