This is it. After a 60-game sprint of a regular season and the biggest playoff field we've even seen, we are now set for the Fall Classic and it's between both number one seeds. Here are gambling central, we just went 18-15 through the LCS round and feel somewhat good with that. There were some rough patches, but hey, gambling daily on baseball is incredibly difficult. Now it's time to pick a winner and over/under for somewhere from four to seven games and stay above water.
Let's do it.
Tampa Bay +155
L.A. Dodgers -177 (-1.5)
All lines via William Hill Sportsbook
Dodgers to win (-1.5)
The Dodgers are the better team. They just came back from a 3-1 deficit to take down a strong Braves team in the NLCS and after years of playoff failures, my guess is that alone lifted a huge weight off their chests. The job isn't done yet by any stretch, but it feels like the Dodgers teams in past years would have lost that series. This group feels different. They'll get off to a good start in the World Series.
The money line isn't overly enticing at -177, so let's go the route of the run line at -1.5, which pays +110.
The Rays just hit .201/.296/.379 in the ALCS. The Dodgers pitch better than the Astros (against the West divisions in the regular season, the Astros allowed 275 runs while the Dodgers allowed 213) and this ballpark is more pitcher-friendly than Petco Park, especially with a decent portion of the San Diego games in the ALCS being played during the day.
The Dodgers have a powerhouse offense that slugged over .500 in the NLCS in this very ballpark, so that part gives me pause. They also scored one run in Game 1 against Max Fried and the Braves' rested bullpen. They only scored two runs in Game 4 against an unfamiliar foe and managed seven runs in Games 6 and 7 combined. Obviously the offensive outburst in Game 3 is worrisome, but Tyler Glasnow gets the ball in Game 1. Only Mookie Betts (11 plate appearances) has seen him more than three times. Then there is the vaunted bullpen full of power arms for the Rays.
Did you know the Rays' had the highest bullpen WAR in the regular season? The Dodgers were third. The Dodgers were second in bullpen ERA. The Rays were third. Both teams play above-average defense and the Dodgers are elite by several metrics.
All the signs point toward a low-scoring Game 1. I'll go Dodgers in a 4-2 win. It'll take a big home run ...
Bonus: Mookie Betts homers, +300
I like that Betts is the Dodgers player who has seen Glasnow the most and he's had a look at some of the bullpen as well. Also, he's due! We're going opposite the Hot Hand Theory here, as Betts hasn't hit a home run since Sept. 18. It's pretty rare for him to go a month without hitting a home run. It has been 18 games since he last homered. There are only four stretches longer in games in his career and those all happened 2017 or earlier. He hit 16 home runs in his first 52 games this season. He homered in the last World Series game in which he played ... against the Dodgers. This time around, he hits one for them.