World Series Betting: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers Game 1 Pick and Prediction

by Taylor Smith
on October 24, 2017
Houston Astros (+150)
Los Angeles Dodgers (-175)
Total: 7

It all comes down to this. For the first time in nearly 50 years, two teams that won 100 or more games during the regular season will square off in the Fall Classic. The L.A. Dodgers, fresh off a five-game thumping of the defending champion Chicago Cubs, will have home-field advantage against the Houston Astros. The Astros, meanwhile, became the first team in history to defeat both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees during the same playoff run. This series should be a doozy.

We’ll have a pair of ex-Cy Young-winning southpaws on the hill in Game 1. Clayton Kershaw, who is 2-0 with a 3.63 ERA so far in the postseason, will take the ball for Los Angeles. Kershaw twirled six innings of one-run baseball. The lanky lefty hasn’t been his usual dominant self through three playoff starts, but the Dodgers have been scoring enough runs of support to where it hasn’t quite mattered yet.

It’s largely nonsense, but the narrative with Kershaw is that he doesn’t pitch well in the playoffs. He’s largely killed that myth over his two most recent postseason runs, but his job won’t be an easy one tonight. The Astros’ offense struggled at times against the Yankees’ dominant pitching staff, but Houston still boasts perhaps the deepest and most powerful lineup in all of baseball.

They also rake left-handers. The Astros ranked 2nd in wOBA (.347), tied for 2nd in OPS (.814) and tied for 1st in wRC+ (120) against left-handed pitching during the regular season. It’s also worth mentioning that it is expected to be around 100 degrees in L.A. all day long. Hotter weather means the ball will carry better, which means the ball could be jumping out of Dodger Stadium more than it usually is. Kershaw is still Kershaw, but he did allow a career-high 23 homers during the regular season. He’s also surrendered six long balls in those three playoff starts.

The Dodger hitters will have to deal with the 2015 AL Cy Young winner, Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel has been largely up-and-down this season, and that trend has continued into the playoffs. The soft-tossing lefty put forth a couple of outstanding efforts against the Red Sox and Yankees before the Yankees got to him in his most recent start. In Game 5 of the ALCS, Keuchel allowed four runs on seven hits in just 4.2 innings of work.

We know Keuchel is at his best when he’s generating ground balls. He’s not a huge strikeout pitcher – though he has ramped up his K totals during the postseason, but he led the Majors with a ground ball rate of 68.8 percent during the regular season.

The Dodgers struggled mightily against lefty pitching in 2016, but that problem was rectified this season. L.A. wasn’t quite as prolific as Houston against southpaws, but they still finished in the top-10 in wOBA, OPS and wRC+. It will also be interesting to see what Dave Roberts does with Corey Seager. Seager missed the NLCS with a back injury, and he didn’t look particularly good during the latter stages of the season or the NLDS against Arizona. Seager has good numbers against lefties for his career, but could he be held out of the starting lineup against Keuchel, who is murder on lefties?

The value is with the Astros on the moneyline at +150, but it’s difficult to pull the trigger on a team going up against the likes of Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the confident Astros steal Game 1, but the smart money remains on Los Angeles, who has played nearly flawless baseball during this postseason run.

We think the Dodgers are the play on the moneyline, but the over on seven runs is sneaky. This game will be played in wonderful hitting conditions, so we’re going to be seeing a few home runs.

Hit the over, as well.
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