As the bigger villains in this story, the Houston Astros are the right MLB pick for Friday’s ALCS opener versus the Boston Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros
Friday 15th October 2021 (8:07 p.m. ET, FOX) at Minute Maid Park
Cheaters never prosper – unless it’s Major League Baseball you’re talking about. The two teams behind the sign-stealing scandal of the late ‘10s, the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox, have made it all the way to the American League Championship Series. One of them will go on to the World Series, and maybe win another title just a few short years after getting caught. That’s baseball for you.
The Astros are the more hated of the two teams. The scandal didn’t tar the Red Sox quite as heavily, and they’re one of the public darlings on the MLB odds board, so Houston might have some betting value for Game 1 of the ALCS this Friday. They’re –133 home faves at BetMGM as we go to press, which does look like a bargain price – depending on whom the Sox choose as their starting pitcher.
Sale For Sale
It’s probably going to be Chris Sale (3.69 FIP). Nothing is official yet as I write this, but it’s widely assumed Sale will get the nod Friday night, and that might be exactly where Houston can take advantage. Sale started just nine games for Boston during the regular season after returning from Tommy John surgery. He wasn’t awful by any means, but he wasn’t the same guy who made the All-Star team seven years in a row before getting hurt.
He’s also got rocked for five runs in the only inning he’s pitched in the postseason. He started Game 2 of the ALDS versus the Tampa Bay Rays, who somehow managed to lose that game 14-6, then drop a pair of nail-biters at Fenway Park to lose the series. Boston’s bullpen is good but not great – although it is better than Houston’s – and another short outing from Sale could doom them. He’s only completed six full innings once this year.
No. 2 With A Bullet The Astros were a bit slow to announce their own starting pitcher, but it’ll be Framber Valdez (4.01 FIP) taking the hill, and there’s extra weight on his shoulders now that ace Lance McCullers Jr. is out indefinitely with forearm issues. Valdez was essentially a break-even pitcher for the ‘Stros in his first full non-pandemic year as a starter, leading his team to a 13-9 record and a deficit of minus-0.59 units against the MLB lines.
His ALDS Game 2 appearance went better than Sale’s, but Valdez still allowed the Chicago White Sox to score four runs in 4.1 innings. Houston ended up winning 9-4. Both these starters have been off since last Friday, and the bullpens will be fresh for Game 1, so aside from Sale’s recent form, that doesn’t give us many angles to exploit for our MLB picks.
It basically boils down to a matchup between the best hitting team in the majors, the Astros (.339 OBP), and a very good team in Boston (.328 OBP, No. 7 overall). I’m definitely leaning towards Houston here, but it has to be a small bet under these circumstances. Baseball has been very, very good to the Red Sox lately.
MLB Pick: Astros ML (-133) at BetMGM