The Dodgers were cheated out of the 2017 World Series title by the Astros, a Major League Baseball investigation revealed this year.
Los Angeles might get a chance to avenge that loss in the 2020 World Series if it beats Atlanta in the National League Championship Series, which starts Monday, and Houston upsets Tampa Bay in the American League Championship Series, which starts Sunday.
The Dodgers are -230 series favorites over the Braves (+195) and would be the worst-case scenario at the Westgate sportsbook of the four remaining teams to win the World Series.
“The Rays are our biggest winners in the futures pool,” Westgate sportsbook manager Randy Blum said. “We actually win mid-six figures on the Rays, Astros and Braves. On the Dodgers, we break even.
“The public has been betting the Dodgers at ridiculously low numbers all season and even now. The other day, we took some money on them at (+160) from someone we consider sharp.”
Atlanta and Los Angeles are each 5-0 through the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Dodgers beat the Brewers in two games in the wild-card round, then swept the Padres in three games in the NL Division Series. Los Angeles has outscored its opponents 30-11.
Four of the Braves’ five wins have been shutouts, as they blanked Cincinnati twice in the wild-card round and Miami twice in the NLDS. Atlanta has outscored its opponents 23-5.
Braves live underdogs
Blum said he and Westgate vice president of risk Ed Salmons like Atlanta’s batting order.
“Both Ed and myself think the Braves’ lineup is very underrated and compares well with the Dodgers’,” he said. “We’ll see if Atlanta gets enough pitching to pull an upset. (Max) Fried is obviously an ace, and the rookie (Ian) Anderson is very good. But their pitching is not as deep as the Dodgers’.”
Handicapper Hank Goldberg likes the Braves to pull the upset.
“They’re hitting the crap out of the ball, they haven’t lost a playoff game yet, their pitching is terrific and you can get a great price,” said Goldberg (@hammeringhankg). “I’ve been watching the Dodgers’ shaky bullpen. Their closer has to throw 35 pitches every inning he’s in there because he can’t throw it over the plate.”
Rays favored over Astros
Tampa Bay eliminated the Yankees in the ALDS in dramatic fashion Friday, when Mike Brousseau hit a tiebreaking solo home run in the ninth inning off New York closer Aroldis Chapman to lift the Rays to a 2-1 victory.
“That was good for the book,” Blum said. “We had liability on the Yankees’ series price in that particular series.”
Tampa Bay started Tyler Glasnow against New York in Game 5 on two days rest, allowing it to start former Cy Young winner Blake Snell in Sunday’s opener against the Astros.
The Rays are -180 series favorites over Houston (+160) after the price opened at -160 on Friday night.
“Everything fell perfectly for the Rays, who didn’t even end up using Snell out of the bullpen, which we kind of figured they would have to do,” Blum said. “Now they’ve got him for Game 1 instead of Game 3 or 4. That makes a difference in all the game lines, which equates to a different series price.”
Blum expects Tampa to win the pennant.
“The Rays are just a very well-balanced team. They’re very deep and have a lot of pitching and a good bullpen,” he said. “There’s nothing that wows you about them. They’re just a really solid team.
“The Astros are more the team we saw in the regular season (that went 29-31) than the postseason. But that’s baseball. Maybe they’re just getting hot at the right time. But the Rays’ pitching staff will be able to slow down their hot offense.”
Houston scored 33 runs en route to beating Oakland in four games in the ALDS.
Overs went 10-5 in the two division series. Favorites are 23-10 in the playoffs, and run-line favorites are 20-3.
Odds at Westgate
ALCS series price
NLCS series price