MLB Betting Picks for Saturday: Do the Rays Have Value Against the Astros?
Troy Taormina, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Yordan Alvarez
The Astros and Yankees each took care of business on Friday and the two American League giants have a chance to put themselves within a game
Both the Yankees and Astros are big favorites to get the job done on Saturday, although New York’s -190 moneyline pales in comparison to Houston’s historic -320 price.
Are either of Saturday’s big underdogs worth a look at long odds?
Our staff shares their favorite betting strategies for Saturday’s playoff action:
Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros Odds, Picks
Blake Snell (6-8, 4.25 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (20-5, 2.50 ERA)
- Rays Moneyline:+260
- Astros Moneyline: -320
- Over/Under: 7.5
- First pitch: 9:07 p.m. ET
Any time that you go to bet on a moneyline, no matter how analytically driven your process is leading up to the deciding moment, you should ask yourself how often you think that a team can win that specific game.
My projection showed the Rays with a 35.4% win probability in Game 2, implied odds of +182, and I was staggered to see their opening number come in around +260 at some shops.
That number implies that the Rays win this game just 27.8% of the time, 7.6% less than my projection. But some publicly available projections tend to agree with my number.
FiveThirtyEight is the lowest on the Rays chances, coming in at 31% – which would make the Rays a +223 underdog.
FanGraphs projected the Rays with a 35.4% win probability – exactly the same projection as my own.
It is exceedingly likely that the Astros win this game. Gerrit Cole was one win away from capturing a pitching Triple Crown, and he also led his league in FIP and xFIP.
But is it more likely that the Astros win this game 75% of the time; a 121-win pace over a 162 game season – or 66% of the time; a 107-win pace over a full season?
The Astros won exactly 107 games this season, and I doubt that even as great as the Astros are, they wouldn’t set a single-season wins record if they played another playoff team 162 times, even with their ace on the mound.
The Rays offer considerable value down to +250.
The Houston Astros could be only the second favorite to close at -300 or higher in the playoffs since 2005. There have been five favorites of greater than -250 in the postseason in that time. Those teams went 5-0, scoring on average 6.4 runs and winning by 3 runs per game.
This is not great news for the Rays. But this line is likely inflated. According to Zerillo’s baseball model, Houston has a 64.6% chance to win, which would put their betting odds at -180.
There is value in backing Tampa. However, the public is backing the ‘Stros after winning Game 1 6-2. More than 60% of moneyline bets are backing Gerritt Cole & Co.
Historically, it has been profitable to bet against the public in the MLB Playoffs. An inflated line and a profitable trend point to betting on the Rays to pull the upset.