After the first real round of the 2019 Major League Baseball playoffs, the Division Series results have many bettors scratching their heads.
While the ALCS pits the New York Yankees against the Houston Astros in a matchup that the gambling public had predicted all year, the NLCS will be contested between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals.
That’s a major surprise, and for many sports bettors, a costly one.
USA sportsbook sites are likely happy with the developments, given the volume of action on the massively favored Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves, but both of those teams getting bounced in their Division Series constitutes something of a gut-punch to the NL betting faithful.
For a bit of background, consider: Throughout the year, the Dodgers – who had been to the last two World Series, had been the overwhelming NL favorites to reach the big dance. They coasted through the NL West, winning 106 games and earning homefield advantage in their NLDS against the Nationals. At the start of the playoffs, the Dodgers were -120 favorites to win the NL pennant.
Meanwhile, the Nationals barely made the playoffs, finishing the year with 93 wins, four games back of the Braves in the NL East. However, after winning their one-game Wild Card playoff in spectacular fashion after a Bill Buckner-esque error by Milwaukee Brewers rookie right fielder Trent Grisham, the Nats took that momentum and beat the Dodgers in their best-of-five Division Series matchup.
Going into the series with LA, Washington was a +185 underdog, with the Dodgers trending at -250.
The Cardinals were the other huge surprise in the National League, winning the NL Central on the last day of the year by outshining the Chicago Cubs down the stretch. Then, as +115 underdogs against the -150 Braves, they kept rolling and took the series in five games.
In other words, everyone predicted the ALCS matchup between the Astros and Yankees, but nobody saw the NL playing out like this.
So that’s where things stand now, and the betting boards reflect the shakeup. Oddsmakers have been hard at work setting lines for the upcoming Championship Series, and as usual, Bovada was the first out of the gate with MLB playoff odds posted, which you can see below:
2019 MLB Series Prices
- Washington Nationals -130
- St. Louis Cardinals EVEN
- New York Yankees +145
- Houston Astros -190
2019 World Series Champion Odds
- Houston Astros +130
- New York Yankees +250
- Washington Nationals +450
- St. Louis Cardinals +475
As you can see, the AL teams are both overwhelming favorites to win the 2019 World Series, but the tumultuous NL races have shown that baseball is a very streaky game.
Even the ALCS betting lines are curious, given the power that the Yankees bring to the plate. Nevertheless, the Astros have the best starting rotation in the game, and pitching is of outsize importance in the playoffs. Still, if the Baby Bombers can give the Astros rotation a run for its money, there’s really no telling how the World Series is going to shake out.
The only certainty when it comes to MLB betting in the playoffs is that if you’re going to wager on World Series futures, you’d better step up to the plate ASAP, because the odds and prices are only going to shrink from here on out.