Astros (-140) vs Red Sox (+120)
Game 1 of the ALCS is scheduled for Friday between the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros. These two teams met in the 2017 ALDS and the 2018 ALCS, so they are no strangers to one another. Once again, they are set to meet with a trip to the World Series on the line. In Friday’s series opener, the Astros are favored at home with a moneyline of -140 while Boston’s moneyline is set at +120.
The Astros will hand the ball to Framber Valdez in Game 1. The 27-year-old put together a solid season, going 11-6 with a 3.14 ERA over 22 starts after missing the first two months of the season. Valdez also comes with an excellent postseason track record, going 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA over four appearances last October. However, that was not the case during the ALDS when he gave up four runs on seven hits over 4.1 innings in his start against the White Sox. On the bright side, Valdez faced the Red Sox twice in early June, allowing just two runs on 10 hits over 14.1 innings.
Of course, the Boston lineup has heated up during the postseason. Outside of getting shut out in Game 1 of the ALDS, the Red Sox have scored at least six runs in their four other playoff games, including a 14-run outburst in Game 2 against the Rays. Rafael Devers has continued his hot hitting from the end of the regular season. Equally important, Xander Bogaerts has come alive after slumping late in the regular season. Enrique Hernandez, Kyle Schwarber, and J.D. Martinez are also swinging a hot bat with the Red Sox hitting 11 home runs over their five playoff games.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox will also be sending a lefty to the mound in Game 1 with Chris Sale getting the start. Sale returned from Tommy John surgery late in the season but went 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA over his nine starts. He looked almost as good as he did before the surgery, striking out 52 batters over those 42.2 innings. However, Sale did not get off to a good start in the playoffs. He gave up five runs to the Rays in the first inning of Game 2, including a grand slam, ending his night early.
Sale will now have to bounce back from that outing against one of the most potent lineups in baseball. The Astros ended the regular season red-hot and have continued that in the postseason. Houston scored 31 runs during the ALDS, averaging nearly eight runs per game. Yuli Gurriel is the only regular in Houston’s lineup that didn’t have a good series. The only surprise is that the Astros needed just four home runs to do that kind of damage, which is a testament to how well they were swinging the bats.
Despite Houston’s lineup being red-hot at the moment, the sharps are leaning toward the Red Sox to win Game 1. Both starting pitchers had trouble during the ALDS, although Sale is getting the benefit of the doubt more than Valdez, which makes sense. Plus, with the way Boston’s lineup is rolling, the Astros don’t have that much of an advantage offensively, especially in a hitter-friendly park. With the Astros being slight favorites in this game, the value is with the Red Sox because this game could be more of a tossup than the odds suggest. While the public betting is favoring the Astros, the sharps recognize the value of taking the underdog when they have the better starting pitcher.
Pick: Red Sox +120
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