The two best teams going into the MLB All-Star break made it to the 2017 World Series, with one of them surviving a much more competitive path than the other.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
Whether or not that will mean anything when all is said and done remains to be seen, as the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers earned home-field advantage during the season and have lost only one playoff game en route to becoming -165 favorites on the series prices over the American League champion Houston Astros.
The Dodgers fell to the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs 3-2 in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series, but otherwise they have been perfect this postseason. Behind strong pitching and timely hitting, Los Angeles overcame disappointing recent playoff performances by going 7-1 against the Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks. The team is hoping to ride ace Clayton Kershaw to its first World Series title since 1988.
Meanwhile, the Astros last appeared in the World Series as the NL representatives in 2005 when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox. They switched to the AL in 2013 and won 50 more games this regular season compared to that inaugural year.
Houston endured more of a struggle to get back to the World Series, dropping four road games to the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees but going a perfect 5-0 at home. The Astros are listed as +145 underdogs to win the World Series and have gone 3-0 against Los Angeles since moving to the AL, with all three games taking place in 2015. Before that, they dropped eight of the previous 10 meetings.
Houston’s ability to break through and steal one of the first two games will likely be the key to the series. Despite going the distance in a thrilling seven-game ALCS versus the Yankees, the Astros still get to start their top two pitchers in the first two games of the World Series in Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, respectively.
Verlander was named the ALCS MVP after going 2-0 in two outings against New York, allowing one run and 10 hits in 16 innings with two walks and 21 strikeouts. He is 4-0 this postseason overall with a 1.46 ERA and matches up opposite Rich Hill in Game 2 after Keuchel takes on three-time NL Cy Young Award winner Kershaw in the opener.