Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports Pictured: Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander
- The Astros opened as -190 favorites over the Red Sox for Thursday's ALCS elimination Game 5 in Houston.
- We take a look back at the largest LCS favorites to put this line in context from a historical perspective.
With Andrew Benintendi’s spectacular catch with two outs and the bases loaded Wednesday night in Houston, the Red Sox have a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Astros in the American League Championship Series.
How commanding of a lead is this?
Since MLB expanded the ALCS and NLCS to a best-of-seven format in 1985, only four AL teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series.
- Of those four teams, only the 1986 Red Sox didn’t win the World Series.
- The 1985 Royals also came back from 3-1 down against the Cardinals in the World Series that year.
- The 2004 Red Sox remain the only team in MLB history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit. The 3-0 comeback has happened four times in NHL history but never in the NBA.
- Current Red Sox manager Alex Cora played for that 2007 Red Sox team; that experience can only help in the clubhouse.
- Three teams have also come back from 3-1 NLCS deficits: the 1996 Braves, 2003 Marlins (Bartman) and 2012 Giants.
While the Red Sox would love to close it out in five, they did their job in Houston by getting two wins. David Price will get the nod on short rest against Justin Verlander in Game 5.
Given Price’s postseason track record, this would’ve been a mound mismatch on paper even if Price had the benefit of full rest.
But with Price on short rest and Craig Kimbrel presumably unavailable after throwing two innings Wednesday, the Astros could potentially close Thursday as one of the largest betting favorites in LCS history.
Since 2005, 28 teams have closed at -200 or greater in the MLB playoffs; those 28 favorites went 20-8 for a tiny profit of +0.78 units. However, it has only happened twice in the LCS — and not in the last 13 years in the AL:
The Cubs won easily, 8-4, while the White Sox actually lost, 3-2, for the first and only loss of their remarkable 2005 World Series run.
The Astros opened at -190 for Thursday’s elimination game, but have since dropped to -180. Without a big push in the market, we won’t see our third -200 LCS favorite since 2005.