Fri, Oct 3, 11:35am by Mike Randall
The Major League Baseball playoffs are finally upon us.
And our recommended bookies have fired up their odds on the 2014 World Series winner.
The team with the most expensive bullpen – the Los Angeles Dodgers – opened up at $5.50, leading the market for the 2014 World Series at Beteasy.com.au.
But spokesman Rob Cumbrae-Stewart said the Los Angeles Angels are the big movers and are now favourite at $5.
“Watch out for the other Los Angeles team, the LA Angels, who have been backed in from $15 into $5,” Cumbrae-Stewart told AustralianGambling.
He said San Francisco, after its smashing of Pittsburgh in the NL wild card game yesterday, was always a chance at odds.
“The BetEasy smokey for the World Series is the San Fran Giants at $8,” he said.
“We think that with their recent history, winning in 2010 and 2012 – that they might just get the chocolates again this year.
If you’re savvy and like the Giants, you can still get double figures about them.
Betfred.com.au has them at $10 in the market, with the Kansas City Royals the outsiders at $11.
Sportsbet.com.au rates the Giants as a $9 chance, while it’s a jostle between a hat trick of teams for favouritism at Centrebet.com.
The Angels, Dodgers and Washington Nationals share the lead line at $5.50. The Detroit Tigers are next, at $8.
You can get the best odds about the Baltimore Orioles at Beteasy.com.au, rated an $8.50 chance.
Regardless of who wins, it will be a new champion after the mighty Boston Red Sox unthinkably missed the playoffs, after a stirring World Series run in 2013.
Whose going to make it and who is going to win?
The obvious picks are the two LA teams to fight it out in a cross town derby.
The Angels are the best offensive team in baseball, averaging a brutal 4.8 runs per game, while their cross-town rivals are the most expensive team in baseball.
The Dodgers, with their star-studded cast, have the most to lose and have to be considered massive chances.
But could there be a shock? What about the Orioles and Nationals? Both are supremely talented and have had superb seasons. The Cards and Royals can’t be discounted and take a look at that Tigers bullpen.
We’ll stick with the Dodgers, but don’t think there’s a lot of value on them. Something tells us the Giants could seriously surprise. They won it in 2010 and 2012 – maybe those even years will match up again for the boys from San Francisco.
Pull a name out of a hat, back them, and then ride them throughout the playoffs.
Detroit Tigers, 90-72 ($1.69 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Baltimore Orioles, 96-66 ($2.25 with Beteasy.com.au)
Season head-to-head: Detroit 5-1
THAT Detroit pitching rotation is the stuff of nightmares for any opposing offence.
A trio of Cy Young Award winners in David Price, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are poised to torment the Baltimore batters in this series.
Scherzer, out of contract at season’s end, will kick off the series in game one.
He’s been a monster in the playoffs and there’s nothing to suggest that will change – he’s focussed.
“Every pitch in the playoffs is crucial,” Scherzer said at a recent press conference.
“There is no other way to script it, because the moment you give these guys an inch, they hit it a mile.
That trio comes up against an Orioles offence that struck 211 home runs this season – good enough to lead the majors.
Much of their success is credited to a well-balanced line up that excels in all facets of the game.
But they have some serious problems going into this one and it will be hard to paper over the cracks.
Manny Machado and Matt Wieters are both injured and star Chris Davis is suspended.
When three of your best are out, the potential for second stringers to choke becomes palpable.
Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman will make his first postseason start in the opener.
It’s harsh, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers brought out the broom. We’ll be gentle on the Orioles though, considering the strong season, and give them one game – Detroit to win it, 3-1 ($3.78 with Sportsbet.com.au).
Kansas City Royals, 89-73 ($2.55 with Sportingbet.com.au)
Los Angeles Angels, 98-64 ($1.57 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Season head-to-head: Series tied, 3-3
WOWEE! Did you see that finish for the Royals against Oakland in the AL wild card earlier this week?
Down 7-3, before rallying to tie it 7-7, the Royals got home 8-9 on a Salvador Perez RBI single that got Christian Colon home at the bottom of the 12th.
“You never give up, you never say die, you never roll over no matter how big a lead is, it’s never insurmountable, especially in the playoffs,” pitcher Danny Duffy said after the thrilling win.
And that’s the attitude the Royals will have to take into this clash with one of the favourites to win the World Series, the Angels.
It’s all stacked against them – the Angels have the best offence in baseball, scoring more runs than any other team, and went through the season with a huge 143 run differential.
The Angels and Royals split their six regular season games and we expect this one to be tighter than most are predicting.
Jered Weaver kicks off for the Angels in game one and his stats are not to sneer at – he’s registered an ERA under 4 in eight of his nine seasons in the majors.
It will be tough for the Royals to get anything there, but they’re a chance of stealing games two and three, up against surprise packet Matt Shoemaker and a less than impressive CJ Wilson.
Alex Gordon is the biggest threat for the Royals, who should have enough in the tank to push the Angels, but we like the “other” LA team, led by Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun, to bring it home in five, 3-2 ($3.82 with Sportsbet.com.au).
San Francisco Giants, 88-74 ($2.60 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Washington Nationals, 96-66 ($1.50 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Season head-to-head: Washington, 5-2
AS we previously mentioned, there’s a little romance about the Giants in this one.
The won the World Series in 2010 and 2012 and could be on course to a ‘every even year’ three peat in 2014.
It will be tough, but they hammered Pittsburgh into submission, 8-0, in the NL wild card game and, despite Washington winning five of their seven meetings in the regular season, will have plenty of impetus to turn the tables on the Nats.
Washington are going to make things very, very hard, though.
This is a side that has led the MLB in ERA since the All Star break and boasts a terrific trio of Jordan Zimmerman, Doug Fister and Stephen Strasburg.
That pitching triumvirate, coupled with a superb bullpen led the major leagues in ERA and set a record for single-season strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.66-1) in MLB history – nice numbers.
But it’s not just on the pitching side of things they excel.
Their offense is in the top four in the league in home runs, runs scored, on-base percentage and stolen-base success rate.
We could go with our heads and tip the Nationals, but let’s go with our hearts and back the Giants to do it in typical Giants fashion – Game five, down one, bottom of the ninth, grand slam.
San Fran 3-2 ($5.70 with Sportsbet.com.au).
St Louis Cardinals, 90-72 ($2.58 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Los Angeles Dodgers 94-68 ($1.53 with Beteasy.com.au)
Last 20 games head-to-head: 10-10
THERE are no certainties in punting, but surely the most expensive team in baseball history can knock over a Cardinals side worth less than half.
A$271 million. Just think about that figure for a minute.
That’s a lot of money down the drain if they’re shot out in the first round.
The Dodgers enjoy a pronounced home field advantage, while the Cardinals struggled on the road.
LA has better hitters, better pitchers and better fielders.
The Cardinals are the worst offensive team of any in the playoffs, ranked 23rd in runs scored – they kill their pitchers.
Lance Lynn John Lackey and superstar Adam Wainwright have done a manful job of making that putrid offence of the likes of Jhonny Peralta and Matt Holiday smell rosie, but this is the playoffs now – there’s nowhere to hide.
Reel them off. Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramilez, Juan Uribe.
It’s just a bestial offence that is every chance of running up double digit scores in this one.
And don’t forget that brilliant pitching rotation of Zack Greinke, who gets paid a cool A$32 million to ply his trade, and his mates Clayton Kershaw and Dan Haren.
All signs point to a Dodgers’ sweep ($4.80 with Sportsbet.com.au).
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