The most anticipated major league championship series has arrived, as baseballs best two teams battle for the chance to advance to the World Series. The Boston Red Sox (108-54) set records during the regular season and disposed of its biggest rival in the divisional series, beating the New York Yankees in four games. Now they play the defending World Series champions Houston Astros (103-59), who had back-to-back 100 win regular seasons and are trying to become the first team in 20 years to win back-to-back World Series when the NY Yankees did it in 1998 and 1999. This is a 2018 ALCS betting matchup you don’t want to miss.
2018 ALCS Betting
Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros
Like the National League series where the top-seeded Milwaukee Brewers (+145) are an underdog to the favorite LA Dodgers (-165), the Boston Red Sox (+115) are also an underdog to the Houston Astros (-135), and Houston has been taking more money since the opening series lines were posted at the sportsbooks.
Game 1 from Fenway Park in Boston is Saturday, Oct. 13 with first pitch at 8:05 ET.
2018 ALCS Betting Preview – Game 1
Verlander (HOU) +107 / +1.5 -200 / O 7.0 -120
Sale (BOS) -117 / -1.5 +170 / U 7.0 +100
Game 1 features the league’s top 2 pitchers and we’ll side with Sale and Boston. Both teams have strong starting pitching, but the Astros is still the best in baseball. Houston had the second most fWAR among starting staffs this season (22.5 fWAR) compared to Boston (15.7 fWAR), who had the 6th-most. The Astros were 1st in ERA (3.16), FIP (3.28), strikeout rate (28.2%) and strikeout-to-walk rate (20.6%). Boston was solid, ranking 8th in ERA (3.77) and FIP (3.80), 5th in strikeout rate (25.4%) and 4th in strikeout-to-walk rate (18.1%).
Game 2 – Bet the Astros at -120 or less, and a 1st 5 inning play on Cole and Houston. The second game of 2018 ALCS betting is Sunday and the Red Sox lefty David Price will oppose the Astros Gerrit Cole. In 10 career post season starts, Price has an ERA above 6.00 and his teams are 0-10. Price also struggled in his ALCS start against the Yankees, allowing 3 runs including 2 home runs in less than 2 innings. However, these two starters faced each other Sept. 7 in Boston and Price pitched well going 6.1 innings allowing 2 runs on 2 hits with 10 Ks. Cole matched him pitching 6 innings allowing 2 runs with 8 Ks in a 6-3 Astros win as the Boston bullpen blew it. Houston was a -112 favorite that game, and we’ll be back on the Astros in Game 2 along with a 5 inning bet on Cole.
Dallas Keuchel (3.6 fWAR, 3.74 ERA, 3.69 FIP) and Charlie Morton (3.1 fWAR, 3.13 ERA, 3.59 FIP) round out the Houston rotation. Rich Porcello (2.7 fWAR, 4.28 ERA, 4.01 FIP) and Nathan Eovaldi (2.2 fWAR, 3.81 ERA, 3.60 FIP) should handle Games 3 and 4 for the Red Sox next week in Houston.
Houston also has the best bullpen in baseball, and the addition of closer Roberto Osuna (12 saves, 1.99 ERA in 22 innings) was a good one. Houston ranked 1st in ERA (3.03), FIP (3.14), and strikeout-to-walk rate (22.3%), and are 2nd in overall strikeout rate (29.1%). Boston is 9th in ERA (3.74), 6th in FIP (3.85), 6th in strikeout rate (25.1%) and 8th in strikeout-to-walk rate (15.3%), and Craig Kimbrel is a shutdown closer for the Red Sox who struck out 96 batters in 63 innings.
Boston’s bats are the best in baseball, as the Red Sox lineup is most formidable. The Red Sox scored the most runs of any team in baseball this year, and were 9th in home runs, 4th in ISO (.185), and tops in wOBA (.340). Meanwhile, the Astros were 6th in runs, 11th in home runs, 10th in ISO (.170), and 6th in wOBA (.326). Both teams were top-3 in fewest strikeouts.
As Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez carry the biggest bats for Boston and the chase for MVP honors, Houston has dealt with more injuries throughout the season to its hitting starts. Noteably, all-star short stop Carlos Correa has missed significant time with a back injury and is hitting just .180 the second half of the season.
With such strong starting pitching and the best bullpen to back it up, you can see why the Astros are favored over the top-seeded Red Sox. But Boston’s bats are clearly able to bash, making this a sensational series that will most likely go at least 6 games. Boston as an underdog is tough to fade, but we’ll side with Houston to return to the World Series and wait to bet it until after Game 1 if the Astros lose and offer a better series price.
2018 ALCS Betting Prediction: Houston Astros in 7 games
Fairway Jay is a professional handicapper based out of Las Vegas. He focuses primarily on the four majors along with college football and college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.