Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, October 6, 2016 at 12:40 PM
The excitement of major league baseball’s wild-card games is over and we’re now set for eight teams to begin Division Series action. For baseball bettors who still want on in the futures market, this round is the last time any prices that are attractive will be on the board. Let’s take a look at all eight teams, their odds and the chances they can make it worth your while…
Chicago Cubs (11-5): There isn’t much doubt that the Cubs, with the most complete team in baseball, can cash this ticket. The question is whether there’s enough value in it to be worth the risk. The acquisition of Aroldis Chapman at midseason removed the last real weakness in this roster and the closer has been lights-out, with a 1.01 ERA since being dealt to the North Side.
Handicappers will need to use creativity to make money with the Cubs—using targeted spots in individual series for run-line bets at a lower moneyline or incorporating them into parlay action. On a more straightforward basis, the 11-5 price allows you to use the Cubs as a break-even hedge—wager an equal amount of Chicago, plus one other team. You’ll make a tiny profit if the favorite wins and a bigger one if your chosen challenger wins.
Boston Red Sox (11-2): The Red Sox pitching was the sticking point all year, but this staff came on strong in August and September. Rick Porcello, the Game 1 starter in the Division Series may win the Cy Young Award and David Price becomes relegated to #2. There’s no question the Sox can score, and with David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, there’s no questioning their postseason moxie. The biggest question—are Price and closer Craig Kimbrel better regular season performers than postseason? That’s the track record thus far, and if it holds, Boston will get its heart broken.
Texas Rangers (6-1): The downside for the Rangers is simple—can a team with the 13th-best ERA in the 15-team American League really survive three postseason rounds? The upside is equally simple—while Texas may have serious problems with pitching depth, the 1-2 punch of Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish isn’t to be trifled with. And Hamels has shown he can thrive on the October stage.
Los Angeles Dodgers (8-1): Clayton Kershaw, like Price and Kimbrel, has to answer questions as to whether he’s just about the regular season—or, as one pundit put it, if he’s “Peyton Kershaw.” If Kershaw’s past postseason problems continue, it’s over for the Dodgers. It’s been an amazing job by manager Dave Roberts to push a team with this many flaws to a division title. The good news for the Dodgers is that their Division Series opponent, the Washington Nationals, has their own share of recent October problems. And maybe one round worth of momentum is all it will take.
San Francisco Giants (8-1): Madison Bumgarner turned in another surreal performance in last night’s wild-card shutout of the Mets. San Francisco has Johnny Cueto to start the Division Series, a luxury they did not have in 2014, when they won their last World Series title out of the wild-card spot. The Giants are definitely good enough to win. They have a fresh start after their poor play of the last couple months. And if they upset the Cubs in the Division Series, this price will fall in a hurry.
Toronto Blue Jays (8-1): The bats are what get most of the attention in Toronto, but don’t overlook how good their pitching is. They finished with the best ERA in the American League and that’s in spite of facing a steady diet of the lineups from Boston and Baltimore through the regular season.
Cleveland Indians (9-1): Are we ready for the baseball version of “Believe-Land?” Over the regular season, they had the AL’s second-best offense and second-best pitching staff. They have a legit ace in Corey Kluber and a trade deadline move for Andrew Miller gave them a solid bullpen. Cleveland has a manager in Terry Francona that knows what he’s doing. The downside? Danny Salazar’s second-half struggles and eventual trip to the disabled list (where he remains for this series) might have stripped the rotation of the needed depth to win multiple rounds.
Washington Nationals (9-1): This is another team that has all the pieces in place to make a run and it’s likely the presence of the Cubs in the National League that’s keeping Washington’s price attractive. Any sign of vulnerability from the Cubbies likely means in shift in sentiment to the Nats. If you like Washington, don’t waste time.
A lot of baseball excitement is ahead. I have to reserve my ultimate strategies for clients, but this provides a rough overview of the landscape. And in addition to futures, I’ll also have game-by-game action here daily. Be sure to check in!