(1) Tampa Bay Rays -190 vs (6) Houston Astros +165

Should anyone decide to make a sequel to the film “Moneyball”, it should be based on the 2020 Tampa Bay Rays. What GM Erik Neander and manager Kevin Cash have done with this team is nothing short of incredible. With a payroll of $28.3 million, the Rays will be playing for the American League championship. The Rays are buying wins at a discount, with a payroll that ranks 28th in the MLB. Only Pittsburgh and Baltimore are spending less than Tampa. Tampa spends $54 million less than their opponent in the ALCS, the Houston Astros. Nobody should balk at that pay gap, however, considering they just beat the New York Yankees who have the highest payroll in baseball at $109.4 million. Their success with this low budget has been the definition of “team effort”. From their stable of hard-throwing pitchers, to their balanced lineup that makes every plate appearance a dogfight, to their manager Kevin Cash who always seems to know what strings to pull in games, everyone has been chipping in. Houston, on the other hand, can primarily thank their bats for their postseason success thus far. After holding Minnesota to 2 combined runs in 2 games, they proceeded to allow 20 runs in 4 games vs Oakland. Luckily, their dangerous lineup has woken up at the right time. After a subpar regular season, Houston averaged over 8 runs per game in the Oakland series. I think that is the matchup to watch. Tampa’s pitching vs Houston’s bats. If Houston continues spraying the field, I am skeptical if Tampa will be able to keep up. But I believe Tampa’s deep pitching staff will keep them in check. With a complete team and no clear weaknesses, I think the Rays will keep this run going. 

Take Tampa Bay -190.

(1) Los Angeles Dodgers -230 vs (2) Atlanta Braves +195

I don’t know about you, but personally, I’m extremely excited for this one. It’s hard not to be. This is a matchup featuring 2 teams who have crushed the ball all season. They finished 1st & 2nd in runs scored and HR’s, with Los Angeles edging out Atlanta in both categories. They are also tied with each other for the highest Slugging % in the majors at .483. Also, to add to the hype, neither squad has suffered a postseason defeat yet. With both teams boasting such potent lineups, one would assume that this series will most likely be decided by whose pitching staff can contain, or at least limit, the damage inflicted by the other team’s bats. Based on the regular season numbers, Los Angeles holds a clear edge here. They led the entire MLB in ERA, WHIP and Opponent Batting Average. In the postseason however, Atlanta’s pitchers have looked sharper. They have incredulously posted 4 shutouts in their 5 postseason games. I would be worried if I were a Dodgers fan, as we all know how far momentum can take you in baseball. It’s hard to ignore the line here. At +195 and a hot pitching staff, it is hard not to like Atlanta. But that is not what is dictating my pick in this series. I believe the key factor here will be Clayton Kershaw. It’s my opinion that this series goes deep, meaning Kershaw may take the mound twice as a starter. With a history of postseason struggles, Kershaw will have a matchup problem when he faces a Braves lineup that consists predominately of right-handed bats and switch hitters. So, with a pitching staff that has been smothering opponents at the plate and the stage set for possibly another Kershaw meltdown, there are multiple reasons to like the Braves here. The series price that pays almost 2:1 is the kicker. 

Take Atlanta +195.

*All odds via Bovada

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