The Houston Astros – a former National League team – and Los Angeles Dodgers meet in the playoffs for the first time since 1981 and in the World Series for the first time ever as the Fall Classic begins Tuesday from Los Angeles. One long title drought will end and the Dodgers are favoured on the MLB odds board.
Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Odds
Game 1: Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
Series Line: Dodgers -175, Astros +145
World Series Background
Yes, the TV executives at Fox and American advertisers would have preferred a Yankees-Dodgers World Series because that would have been a ratings bonanza with the two biggest markets in the USA and franchises with national appeal. Houston, even though it plays in the fourth-biggest city in the United States by population, simply doesn’t have that.
But make no mistake: This is a star-studded series. We have two MVP winners in Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (he led the majors in hitting and will win his first MVP when that’s announced next month) and Houston pitcher Justin Verlander (2011). There are a combined five Cy Young Awards in the series in the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (three and might win a fourth next month), Verlander (in 2011 when he was also named AL MVP) and Houston lefty Dallas Keuchel (2015).
Kershaw, the greatest pitcher of his generation, and Keuchel are set for Tuesday’s Game 1. There are also three Rookie of the Year Award winners in Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (2015), and Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager (2016) and first baseman Cody Bellinger (he’s a lock to win this year’s). Seager missed the NLCS with a back injury but will be on the World Series roster.
Both of these teams are going to be loaded for a while. It’s the first time they have ever met in a World Series but might not be the last this decade. They last played in the 2015 regular season, with Houston sweeping three at home.
The Astros probably wish that Commissioner Rob Manfred hadn’t changed the rule to where the winning league in the All-Star Game no longer gets home-field advantage in the World Series as the American League did win the Midsummer Classic. Houston finished the regular season 101-61 and won its division – the AL West – by the biggest margin in baseball at 21 games. The Astros, the top offensive team in baseball during the season by a wide margin, beat Boston in four games in the ALDS but had to rally from a 3-2 series deficit in the ALCS against the Yankees. That powerful offense was shut down in four of the games by the New York pitching.
Houston is the first team to win a pennant in both leagues. It did so in the National League in 2005 but was swept in the World Series by the White Sox. The franchise moved to the American League starting in the 2013 season. Houston has never won a World Series; it began play in 1962 and that’s the third-longest title drought in the majors behind Cleveland (last title in 1948) and Texas (never has won it and began in 1961). The Astros entered the playoffs as the second-favourite to win the AL pennant behind the Indians. Keep in mind that Houston loses the designated hitter in any games at Dodger Stadium.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers led the majors with 104 regular-season victories and at one time were on pace to break the MLB record of 116 victories before one puzzling 1-16 stretch. This marks the first World Series between teams that won at least 100 games since 1970. L.A. has won six titles overall but not since the Kirk Gibson/Orel Hershiser team upset the Oakland A’s in the 1988 Fall Classic. This is the Dodgers’ 11th playoff appearance since then and fifth in a row.
They haven’t been much tested in these playoffs, sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS and eliminating the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs in five games in the NLCS. Every Dodgers win in this postseason has been by at least two runs. L.A. can’t match Houston offensively but has the better pitching staff – especially in the bullpen. The Dodgers ranked second in the majors in ERA (3.38) during the season and lead by a mile in the playoffs (2.28 ERA). The bullpen has an obscene 0.94 ERA in the postseason with 32 strikeouts and an opponents’ batting average of just .125 in 28.2 innings.
Astros vs. Dodgers Series Prediction
The return of Seager and that bullpen make L.A. the team to beat. The Dodgers win in six, which is priced at +350 on the MLB odds board.