MLB League Championship Previews
And then there were four! After a dramatic set of divisional round matchups, Major League Baseball begins its League Championships Friday night in the American League when the Toronto Blue Jays visit the Kansas City Royals. The National League begins Saturday evening when the Chicago Cubs visit the New York Mets.
Interestingly…both Game One (and Two) visitors are current betting favorites to win their respective best-of-seven’s and meet in the World Series.
Toronto -145 over Kansas City (+125)
Chicago Cubs -135 over the NY Mets (+115)
Toronto made life very difficult for themselves by dropping their first two Divisional Round games at home to the Texas Rangers. From that point forward, they reminded everyone why they were the betting favorites to win the World Series when the postseason began. Chicago looked awesome down the stretch of the regular season, and pounded St. Louis into submission. They’re getting a lot of respect considering the quality of the Mets pitching and NY’s home field advantage if the series goes seven.
Naturally, Toronto and Chicago lead the odds to win the World Series…
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP PRICES
Chicago Cubs +240
Kansas City +340
NY Mets +420
If you’re new to sports betting, those reflect the return on $100 bets. If you bet $100 on the Cubs, you’d win $240 if they score a “Back the Future” championship by winning these next two rounds.
GAME ONE PRICES
Toronto (Estrada) -120 over Kansas City (Volquez), total of 8
NY Mets (Harvey) -125 over Chicago (Lester), total of 6.5
Toronto gets the nod as a road favorite in Friday’s LCS opener. Edinson Volquez isn’t seen as an overpowering pitcher by the marketplace…and Toronto has some very big bats. Matt Harvey of the Mets is ideally suited to pitching at his home stadium. It’s very tough to see the pitches of this flamethrower. New York desperately needs to open with a win because seemingly unbeatable Cubs ace Jake Arrieta is slated to go in Game Two.
ROAD ONLY OFFENSE
Toronto: 5.4 runs per game, .329 on base, .431 slugging
NY Mets: 4.6 runs per game, .319 on base, .411 slugging
Chicago Cubs: 4.5 runs per game, .321 on base, .400 slugging
Kansas City 4.3 runs per game, .310 on base, .399 slugging
You saw how important offense was in the Divisional Round. The two best National League offenses advanced through the brackets. Chicago in particular controlled its destiny with big blows. The media should have been more aware that the Mets and Cubs had elite offenses once you adjusted for the impact of their home parks! Toronto’s bats finally arrived when needed. Kansas City will need to manufacture a bunch of runs to counteract what the Jays bring to the slugging category.
Marcus Stroman: 1.67 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 6.9 K-Rate, 6.8 IP per start
David Price 2.30 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 10.5 K-Rate, 6.8 IP per start
Marco Estrada: 3.13 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 6.5 K-Rate, 6.1 IP per start
R. A. Dickey: 3.91 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 5.3 K-Rate, 6.5 IP per start
Price continues to be a postseason disappointment. He’s now kind of a wildcard who could make things interesting if he can’t get things righted. Kansas City may not have any chance if Price finds his typical form.
KANSAS CITY STARTERS
Edinson Volquez: 3.55 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 7.1 K-Rate, 5.9 IP per start
Yordano Ventura: 4.08 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 8.6 K-Rate, 5.8 IP per start
Kris Medlen: 4.50 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 5.3 K-Rate, 5.5 IP per start
Johnny Cueto: 4.76 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 6.2 K-Rate, 6.3 IP per start
Volquez has been flirting with disaster all season…because a WHIP of 1.30 just isn’t very good in this pitching era…and 5.9 IP per start demands that the bullpen save the day. The Royals do have a great bullpen. Are they ready to be tested EVERY DAY by this potent Blue Jays attack? You can see why Toronto is a series favorite. They have ERA edges right down the line…and the significantly better offense.
CHICAGO CUBS STARTERS
Jake Arrieta: 1.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 9.3 K-Rate, 6.9 IP per start
Jon Lester: 3.34 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 9.1 K-Rate, 6.4 IP per start
Jason Hammel: 3.74 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 9.1 K-Rate, 5.5 IP per start
Kyle Hendricks: 3.95 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 8.4 K-Rate, 5.6 IP per start
Arrieta continues to amaze. Can the rest of the staff pick up two wins in what’s surely to be an emotional, rowdy series? You know the Cubs fans will be going crazy with every pitch. Mets fans are just as excited because they weren’t supposed to come this far this quick. Once again here…Game One is vital for the home team to win.
NEW YORK METS STARTERS
Jacob deGrom: 2.54 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 9.7 K-Rate, 6.4 IP per start
Matt Harvey: 2.71 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 8.9 K-Rate, 6.5 IP per start
Noah Syndegard: 3.24 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 10.0 K-Rate, 6.3 IP per start
Jonathan Niese: 4.13 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 5.8 K-Rate, 5.5 IP per start
Bartolo Colon: 4.16 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6.3 K-Rate, 6.0 IP per start
Three of the four best starter ERA’s in the series belong to the first three listed there. It’s Arrieta of the Cubs…and then Mets/Mets/Mets. This could be a real pitching series…particularly if the weather starts to cool off as we get deeper into October.
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