The Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the regular season, winning a league-high 104 games. They carried that over to the postseason, making elite opponents look like average teams. Given all that, it’s no surprise they are the favorite to win the World Series.
But it’s not as if the Houston Astros don’t stand a chance. The early returns suggest Houston is getting just as much play as Los Angeles among gamblers, according to Bovada’s sportsbook manager Kevin Bradley.
From a futures perspective, it was an ideal matchup for the book with both Houston and LA being fairly decent results. We are seeing the same trend heading into the World Series with almost exactly 50% action on both sides.
Houston is listed at +145 according to Bovada. The Dodgers are listed at -165.
What do the bettors know that we don’t? Perhaps they believe in Justin Verlander’s resurgence with the Astros. It’s possible they think Houston will adjust better to the extreme temperatures expected early in the series. Or maybe they just want Josh Reddick to get his revenge on the Dodgers fans who booed him.
The explanation is probably much simpler than that. Odds exist so that both teams get action from bettors. Even people who think the Dodgers are a better team might look at the odds and figure it’s worth taking the shot on Houston. While analysis gives the Dodgers the edge, it’s not like Houston is a pushover. And we already know crazy things can happen in a short series. Why not put money on the underdog?
We do know, however, that bettors aren’t buying into the narrative that Clayton Kershaw can’t pitch in the playoffs. The Dodgers are taking in about 60 percent of the action to win Game 1. Kershaw does have a 4.40 ERA over 21 postseason appearances, but his career 2.36 ERA over nearly 2,000 regular season innings speaks loudly. And he’s coming off a series in which he looked pretty dominant against the Chicago Cubs. Dallas Keuchel is far from a pushover, but he’s no Kershaw.
And even that may not matter. Like we said, anything can happen in a short series. Keuchel could topple Kershaw, Verlander could suddenly lose his stuff … a large bird could get hit with a fly ball and result in a bases-clearing hit. We have no idea.
What we can say is that two exceptionally talented teams from the regular season are going to square off in the World Series. One team has to be the favorite — in this case, it’s the Dodgers — but the Astros aren’t far behind.
Conventional wisdom tells us this is going to be a tight matchup. The bettors tell us the same.
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