ALCS Game 1 Odds, Picks, Projections: Betting Strategy for Red Sox vs. Astros and Updated World Series Odds (Oct. 15)
Billie Weiss/Getty Images. Pictured: Kiké Hernandez
- We've reached the final four of the MLB postseason, and the ALCS kicks off tonight.
- Houston is favored to reach the World Series, but is there value on the underdog Red Sox?
- Sean Zerillo breaks down the series and looks at projections the rest of the way before the championship series begins.
Throughout the Major League Baseball playoffs, I will provide a daily breakdown summarizing my thoughts on futures and individual games.
Let’s talk series prices before digging into Friday’s ALCS Game 1 between the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros.
Series Moneyline Corner
Here are my updated ML projections for the two league championship series matchups:
To reiterate my ALCS thoughts from Wednesday: “I initially set Houston as a 55% favorite in that seven-game series, assuming that Lance McCullers Jr. was healthy enough to pitch. However, it now looks like he will miss the series – and in that case, I would drop Houston down to 52%.”
I bet Boston’s series ML at +125, and I would play that down to +120 (implied 45.5%) at a 2.5% edge relative to the projection if McCullers is left off the roster. If he’s on the roster, I would need +135 or better to bet Boston (with -110 as a buy-low price for Houston).
If you have Astros futures, consider Boston’s series ticket – which is essentially an AL Pennant ticket – as a partial hedge on your position. The payout on this bet will cover the cost of my Astros futures (1.25u) if Houston loses. And should they win, I would still have an easy hedge spot in the World Series on a potential payout of more than 30 units.
Boston’s series ML (+130 at DraftKings) looks like a +EV play regardless of your futures.
The NL outlook changed dramatically depending upon the result of Thursday’s Dodgers-Giants Game 5. Either way, I would have made the Braves the underdog, but I showed a 9% gap between their chances against the Giants (45%) and the Dodgers (36%).
You can bet the Braves series ML to +199 (33.5% implied) at a 2.5% edge compared to my projection. The Dodgers opened north of -200, but -160 would have been my target price at a similar advantage.
World Series Futures Update
Here are my updated World Series projections for the four remaining teams, alongside listed odds at DraftKings:
In addition to the Red Sox series ML, I also project value on their World Series odds, and I would play those futures down to +425.
Not to spoil my game preview below, but I show more value on those futures bets than on any single game bets for Game 1.
As a refresher, here is how my World Series projections have evolved throughout the season:
Red Sox vs. Astros, Game 1 (8:07 p.m. ET)
To win a championship in any sport, a team typically needs to stand out in at least one area – and for the Houston Astros, it’s the offense.
Their publicly maligned lineup led the league in wRC+ (116) this season while sitting atop the splits leaderboard against both righties and lefties. The Astros grind out opposing pitchers, with the lowest strikeout rate (19.4%) and swinging-strike rate (8.8%), while taking more called strikes (18%) than any other team.
They had ten players (min. 150 plate appearances) finish with an above-average wRC+, and their most productive hitter bats seventh in their order.
This team rakes, and they play great defense, too, ranking third in Defensive Runs Saved (+76). No player embodies that more than pending free agent Carlos Correa, who finished fifth amongst shortstops with a 134 wRC+ and led the position in DRS (+20) while finishing third in that metric among all fielders.
Boston’s offense finished just behind Houston (116 wRC+) after the trade deadline, as Kyle Schwarber (161 wRC+ over that span) proved to be a sharp acquisition. They can hit with the Astros, though I give the AL West champions a slight advantage (by about a quarter of a run per game).
The Red Sox would be a below-average defensive club (+4 DRS) without Kiké Hernández (+16 DRS) – who might be the most valuable defender in baseball due to his versatility.
I give Boston the starting pitching advantage in this series, and both the season-long (3.96 to 4.08 xFIP) and the post-trade-deadline numbers (3.76 vs. 4.15 xFIP) back that up.
Houston has the edge in the bullpen (4.19 to 4.23 full-season xFIP; 3.90 to 4.43 post-trade deadline), but ultimately, I don’t think that a lot separates these two teams:
I would need at least +130 to bet the Red Sox on the moneyline; otherwise, I don’t anticipate betting on either the side or the total in this matchup.
I would look at the F5 Under at 5 at almost any price or the F5 Over 4 at plus money. I would also look at the Over 8 at -105. However, I doubt that you see any of those prices; they are merely guidelines.
To reiterate, I show as much or more value on Boston’s series ML price or their World Series odds instead of their Game 1 odds.
You don’t need to rush in, however. I will probably continue to show value in those markets throughout this series – and you might be able to jump in at a better price after Game 1 and/or Game 2.
- Boston Red Sox Moneyline (bet to +130)
- Boston Red Sox — Series ML (value to +120, 1u)
- Atlanta Braves — Series ML (value to +199)
- Boston Red Sox — Win World Series (value to +425)
- Red Sox/Astros, Over 8 (wait for -105)
- Red Sox/Astros, F5 Over 4 (wait for +100)
- Red Sox/Astros, F5 Under 5 (wait for -125)