The American League Championship Series begins Friday in Houston between Red Sox and Astros. It's a best-of-seven series between two teams we've seen in this position plenty of times, especially recently with the Astros (it's their fifth straight trip). This is a rematch of the 2018 ALCS that the Red Sox won.
As has been and will continue to be the case, I'm doing the game picks over on SportsLine. I've gone 13-4-1 thus far in the playoffs -- and that was after an 0-1-1 (moneyline and over/under pick) start in the AL wild card game -- so hop on over there and subscribe.
In this space, we'll focus on props, the over/under and other fun.
All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
Over 8.5, -105
The Astros hit. They hit on the road, they hit at home. They crush righties and lefties alike. They led the AL in runs, hits, average and on-base percentage while sitting third in slugging and being the second-hardest team to strikeout. They just hit .288/.371/.432 with 31 runs scored in four games in the ALDS.
Of course, the Red Sox just hit .341/.366/.549 with 26 runs in four games in their ALDS and that came against the top pitching staff (by ERA) in the league. When at full strength, this is an offense capable of being the most powerful in baseball.
Red Sox starter Chris Sale had a 4.97 ERA in his last three regular-season starts and got shelled in Game 2 of the ALDS. Astros starter Framber Valdez had a 3.94 ERA in his last five starts and then coughed up four runs in 4 1/3 innings in his ALDS start.
I believe the series as a whole will showcase a lot of offense and it'll get off to a great start here in Game 1.
Astros four or more runs after six innings, +145
As noted, I love the offenses here, but I particularly love the Astros offense. They have a chip on their shoulder about people bringing up 2017 and are out to prove they don't need to cheat in order to bash the ball all over the park. They feast on high fastballs from lefties and, well, hello Mr. Sale.
For what it's worth, Sale has a terrible playoff history (7.27 ERA in 26 innings).
Carlos Correa homers, +350
To piggyback on the "chip on their shoulder" point, Correa seems to be toward the top of that list. He's been particularly outspoken lately (and he's done his homework). He's also heading toward free agency and has noted publicly that he thinks the Astros low-balled him with extension offers in the spring. He went out and had the best season of his career (by WAR, and he's cited as much). In the ALDS, he went 5 for 13 with two doubles and four RBI. He's no stranger to playoff homers. In fact, he has 17 career postseason home runs in 67 games.
In Correa's career against Sale, he's 4 for 19. That isn't exactly inspiring, but Sale isn't in prime form and I like that he's seen so much of him. He does have a home run off of him, too. He'll add another in Game 1 and get us a nice payday for it.