MLB ALDS Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Best Bets For Red Sox vs. Rays, White Sox vs. Astros (October 7)
Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Verdugo celebrates his RBI double on Tuesday.
The afternoon gives us the White Sox vs. the Astros as a pair of Lances take the mound, Lance Lynn vs. Lance McCullers Jr. In the evening, the Red Sox — fresh off dispatching the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game — battle another AL East rival, the Rays, with Eduardo Rodriguez taking on Shane McClanahan in a matchup of southpaws.
Here are our staff’s best bets for Thursday’s ALDS matchups.
MLB Odds & Picks
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White Sox vs. Astros
Collin Whitchurch: Game 1s almost always give us the best-possible pitching matchups, and the ALDS between the White Sox and Astros is no exception with Lance Lynn taking on Lance McCullers Jr.
Great pitching matchups, of course, generally lead to low totals, and the total in this one is too low and provides plenty of value on the over.
These are two of the best offenses in baseball. The White Sox and Astros ranked first and third, respectively, in wRC+ during the regular season. Both teams are better against lefties, but should still have plenty of opportunities to tee off against Lynn and McCullers despite both pitchers’ regular-season success.
Lynn struggled somewhat down the stretch this season, with blow-up outings against the Yankees, Cubs and Indians during the final two months of the season. He also had arguably his worst outing of the season in Houston against these Astros back in June, giving up six runs in four innings of work.
McCullers has been steadier, and had two decent showings against the White Sox this season, but when he runs into trouble, it’s often because of the base on balls, and the White Sox walk at the fourth-best rate in baseball.
Houston’s bullpen is also a notch below the White Sox’s, so if they don’t get to McCullers, there’ll be plenty of opportunities for runs late.
White Sox vs. Astros
Kenny Ducey: Both of these offenses have been clicking down the stretch, with Chicago checking into the sixth spot in wRC+ and Houston ranking second since the start of September. Both pitchers have been magnificent at times this year and consistently effective. This makes Thursday’s game hard to call, but the edge may be on the team with the juicier odds.
Not only have the White Sox been a class above Houston lately, they also are pretty great against sinker-ballers like Lance McCullers Jr. They ranked sixth in weighted runs per 100 sinkers this season, though they stymied against him in a meeting in July.
That makes it at least a bit scary to back the Sox, but I’ve been much more encouraged by what I’ve seen from this offense in what’s been essentially two months of meaningless baseball. Luis Robert’s and Eloy Jimenez’s returns have put a jolt into this offense, which shouldn’t need very much with Lance Lynn on the mound.
Like with McCullers, I’m fading the one-game sample here and betting on a guy who was shelled by this same opponent, giving up six runs in a start against Houston earlier this season. His ability to induce soft contact should mesh very well against an Astros team that has an 8.8% barrel rate since the start of September.
Finally, I can’t say loudly enough how different these bullpens are. Houston had a 4.02 ERA since the break, and has generally been held back by its relievers all season long. The additions of Kendall Graveman, Phil Maton and Yimi Garcia haven’t done the trick, with the latter two actively hurting the staff and Graveman regressing to a 3.13 ERA with Houston. Some of their most valuable arms have had miserable seasons and Christian Javier appears to be broken.
While the Sox haven’t been much better since the break, they did close with one of the best bullpen ERAs in baseball over the last month of the season. I’m confident in this unit to get it done for six innings, if needed, and if the Sox can make loud contact with a few McCullers sinkers they should be able to get to this vulnerable ‘pen early.
Red Sox vs. Rays
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DJ James: The Boston Red Sox defeated their long-time rival, the New York Yankees, in a one-game matchup on Tuesday night to earn a meeting with the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS. They’ll throw lefty Eduardo Rodriguez in the opener on Thursday, a matchup that should favor Rays hitters.
Boston ranks 13th in all of baseball in wRC+ against left-handed pitching since August 1. They have an incredibly top-heavy lineup versus lefties with only five healthy bats. With J.D. Martinez questionable for this series, the bottom of the lineup has some enormous holes that could struggle against Shane McClanahan’s slider. Collectively, the Red Sox own a .315 xwOBA on lefty sliders this season.
As for the Rays, they have a .335 xwOBA since the beginning of August on lefty-handed fastballs. They also own a 139 wRC+ in that timespan. Mike Zunino is the name to watch here with his insane 294 wRC+ against southpaws. Austin Meadows is the only bat who struggles against lefties, so their lineup has plenty of depth, unlike the Red Sox.
Take the Rays first five innings over 2.5 (+105) and play to 3 (-120). There is value on this line, given how the Rays might force Rodríguez out of the game early.