(1) Tampa Bay Rays +105 vs (5) New York Yankees -125
It’s not very often that you see the 5-seed as the favorite when facing off against the 1-seed. There’s a reason for this, however. The Yankees. Are. On. Fire. After hanging 22 combined runs in a 2-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians, the Yankees look to keep the hit parade going against another elite pitching staff. After posting a team ERA of 3.56 in the regular season, which ranked 3rd best in the majors, the Rays were able to keep Toronto’s young bats in check in Round 1. Allowing only 3 combined runs in 2 games vs the Blue Jays, the Rays staff lived up to their reputation. They face an entirely different animal with New York, however. But that’s not to say they face an impossible task in shutting down the Yankees bats. As a matter of fact, they’ve already done it this year. These teams faced each other 10 times in the regular season with Tampa Bay going 8-2 vs this vaunted New York lineup. The Rays pitching staff were able to keep the Yankees’ bats in check, allowing only 3.4 runs per game, well below the Yankees regular season average of 5.44 runs per game. That being said, I’m going to repeat what I said in my previous article. The Yankees are going to score runs. They just will. After making minced meat of a Cleveland staff who had an ERA of 3.29 (2nd in the MLB), you can expect these Yankees bats to stay hot. After all, Aaron Boone’s guys are “savages in the box”.
Take New York -125.
(2) Oakland Athletics -140 vs (6) Houston Astros +120
Believe it or not, the Astros have managed to become even more hated than they were when I incorrectly predicted them to lose in Round 1. This is in large part due to Carlos Correa calling out Astros critics after their 2-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins. You wouldn’t know that Houston lost two All-Star pitchers since last season if you saw their performance as a team on the bump vs the Twins. They managed to hold their powerful lineup to only 1 run in each game. Just like the other 3 series’, Houston faces a divisional foe in their ALDS matchup. That foe being the Oakland A’s, who once again found a way to win after dropping Game 1 vs Chicago and trailing by 3 early in the winner-take-all Game 3. One has to imagine that both teams are coming into this series highly motivated. After losing 9 straight elimination games, Oakland has finally broken that streak, getting beloved front office executive Billy Beane one step closer to a long-desired ring. For Houston, the motivation is much more simple. They want to shut everyone up. That’s a large task considering their opponent. Oakland won the season series 7-3, holding Houston to 2.7 runs per game. Both AL series are being played at a neutral site. That site is the beautiful Dodger Stadium. I view this as an advantage for the A’s. While they would obviously wish to continue playing at home in Oakland, Dodger Stadium is also a pitcher-friendly park, which should help slow down a Houston lineup who has been struggling this year to begin with.
Take Oakland -140.
*All odds via Bovada