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American League Playoff Races & World Series Odds Update

by OddsShark (@OddsShark) – Sponsored Post

The prices between the American League’s two powerhouses on the World Series odds board are diverging again with five days left in the regular season.

The Houston Astros are the +225 favourite (bet $100 to win $225) on the latest odds to win the World Series at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The price on the Los Angeles Dodgers (+300) as the second favorite is unchanged, while the board also includes the New York Yankees (+450), Atlanta Braves (+700), St. Louis Cardinals (+1000), Minnesota Twins (+1400), Milwaukee Brewers (+2000), Washington Nationals (+2000), Oakland Athletics (+2000), Cleveland Indians (+2500) and Tampa Bay Rays (+2500).

Led by the 1-2 pitching punch of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole as well as the third-highest scoring offence in baseball, the Astros (103-54) have pulled 1½ games ahead of the Yankees (102-56) in the race for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. That has led to the odds shifting over the past two weeks, with the Astros coming down from +275 at online betting sites and the Yankees rising from +350. That also reflects concerns, or lack thereof, with the two teams’ pitching: the Astros have the fourth-best team ERA since the all-star break but the Yankees rate 15th.

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The Dodgers (101-56) have clinched the No. 1 seed in the National League, leading the circuit in runs scored. They lack tiebreakers over both the Astros and Yankees, so wresting away home-field advantage is unlikely. The inconsistency of closer Kenley Jansen is another cause for concern when it comes to backing Los Angeles to win its first World Series since 1988.

St. Louis, which has a 2½-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers, has had one of the strongest second halves of the season among the teams that will have to win at least one series without the benefit of home-field advantage in order to get to the summit. The Cardinals have an MLB-most 46 wins since the all-star break, with the second-best team ERA over that stretch.

It has been five seasons since the last time a wild card team, the 2014 San Francisco Giants, won the World Series. The Washington Nationals are the only team that has clinched a wild card and would likely have ace Max Scherzer available to start in the NL wild-card game, which somewhat allays misgivings about backing a team that has to play a one-and-done wild-card game. Washington has the second-best starting-pitching ERA in MLB and the worst bullpen ERA, so bettors would have to decide which is more likely to hold sway in October, especially if they meet the Dodgers in the NLDS.

Over in the AL, the wild cards are up for grabs with one game separating the Athletics (94-63), Rays (94-64) and Indians (93-64). Cleveland has the toughest opponent for its final series of the regular season, visiting the aforementioned Nationals who have yet to clinch the first wild card.

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