The Houston Astros have not lost back-to-back games since August 30 and 31, a pair of losses that also marked the defending World Champions’ last time losing three times in five games.
As the American League division series begins, Cleveland faces a stiff challenge, but the Central Division champions’ line of +175 at 888Sport is a nod to their pitching prowess.
Cleveland, whose division lead never went below double digits after August 8, has been gearing up for the playoffs for a while now, and lined up its rotation to have Corey Kluber pitch Game 1, followed by Carlos Carrasco on Saturday in Houston.
Both are, on their own, capable of stealing a game on the road and turning the series on its head. Here’s what MLB betting fans should consider:
That’s the important thing to remember about Cleveland: as much as this is a team that deserves some doubts, having won only 91 games while playing in a garbage division, there won’t be – barring an emergency – any playoff starts for Shane Bieber, Adam Plutko or Josh Tomlin.
In the division series, Cleveland could conceivably go with just Kluber, Carrasco and Mike Clevinger, with Kluber back for Game 4 on short rest and Carrasco in a do-or-die Game 5 back in Houston, where he’s been strong in previous starts, posting a 1.17 ERA in 28 career innings.
Given that the extreme unlikelihood of the Astros going down in three straight games, when they haven’t had a three-game losing streak since losing five straight from August 9-14 (at a time when injuries were taking their toll), anyone thinking Cleveland will win this series would do much better to split bets between Cleveland in four or five games.
The Astros, of course, are favored in the series because they are the stronger team, having racked up a record 12 games better than Cleveland while playing a much harder schedule.
Plus, the Astros were 57-24 on the road this season, so even if they do drop a home game, this is not a team that will be worried. That’s why Houston is -225 in the series: They don’t have any glaring weaknesses, they’re playoff tested, and they’ve played great baseball for the past month-and-a-half.
The first two, if bet together, provide better odds than the series games spread, as Astros -1.5 clocks in at +120.
The +155 for over 4.5 games played in the series would be a decent hedge there and allow for a less stressful Game 5 than having bet the Astros on the money line.
If you do think it’s going to be a five-game series, that total games line is probably the way to go. Going the distance also would pay off Cleveland +1.5 at -162 on the series games spread, as would any Cleveland win. But if Cleveland is going to win this thing, it’s highly likely that they need five games to do it.