An interleague series featuring a tense rivalry between two teams with the best records in baseball last year? It's hard to resist a matchup featuring the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros.
The 2017 World Series rematch isn't without raw emotion. A benches-clearing standoff occurred in the sixth inning of Tuesday's first of back-to-back games between these MLB powerhouses. Can Houston even the score after losing 5-2?
Proceed further for abe Insights' betting preview, which provides you with advanced stats, wagers analysis, and the best odds to help inform your bets and, hopefully, maximize your payouts.
Date: Wednesday, July 29
Time: 7:10 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Dodgers 56%; Astros 46%
Spread: LAD -1.5 (+120); HOU +1.5 (-125)
Moneyline: LAD -125; HOU +117
After an injury to longtime ace Clayton Kershaw and newly arrived star David Price opting out of the season, the Dodgers suddenly found their pitching staff shorthanded. Dustin May is starting for L.A. on the bump, and was pressed into duty on Opening Day, where he gave up only one run in 4.1 innings in a 7-1 victory.
Gerrit Cole's free-agent flee to the Yankees and Justin Verlander's strained forearm injury suffered on Opening Day have suddenly limited Astros manager Dusty Baker in his high-end starting options, too.
.161 vs. .295: Usually these stats compare opposing teams, but instead we'll look at a disturbing trend for Houston. The first number is the combined 2020 batting average for George Springer, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, the Astros' top three hitters. Those second digits are the trio's combined average from last season.
68.2 vs. 62.2: Houston's prolific batting order led MLB in numerous major categories in 2019. One obscure one was contact percentage on pitches outside the strike zone. The Astros are extremely proficient as an offense, yet aren't as risk-averse as the Dodgers (18th in O-Contact%) regarding plate discipline.
19.7 vs. 19.3: Los Angeles and the 'Stros ranked a respective second and fourth in baseball last season when it came to Wins Above Replacement from starting pitchers. That's worth bearing in mind given both clubs' current woes in that critical area.
It's only the second of a nine-game road trip for L.A., and MLB schedulers certainly didn't make it easier on the reigning NL West champs. Dominant as the Astros have been en route to three straight division titles, the Dodgers have claimed seven straight.
These franchises are truly a tradition of excellence, as Los Angeles lost in the 2019 postseason to eventual champion Washington and made World Series in their prior two playoff efforts.
But it's hard to look past Houston's sign-stealing controversy. Like L.A., the 'Stros are set for nine straight contests away from the friendly confines of Minute Maid Park after this prime-time duel, and the loss of three key relievers as discussed in our piece yesterday don't make matters easier.
Two big questions: first, is there some sort of morale-deflating impact of the self-inflicted scandal that sent the Astros organization into turmoil? And second, will Altuve, Bregman and especially Springer (in a 1-for-20 slump) snap out of their collective funk?
Dodgers All-Star Mookie Betts showed signs of life opposite Springer in the leadoff spot on Tuesday, going 2-for-4 and patiently drawing a bases-loaded walk to help catalyze the five-run fifth inning that slanted the outcome in the visitors' favor.
After losing only 21 of 81 home games a season ago, the Astros have already lost twice and have a .500 record in a venue they've been nearly unbeatable in. Outside speculation about vulnerability from the sign-stealing isn't going to cease until Houston improves.
In light of these developments, look for wagers to continue riding the Dodgers, at least for the moneyline. Given the significant history of the 'Stros' prohibitive home-field advantage, hedging with Houston's +1.5 spread isn't a bad call.
The run total went below Tuesday's line, and with yet another contest featuring suspect pitching, look for bettors to skew back toward the Over on Wednesday.
Note: Odds current as of 12:15 p.m. ET on Wednesday, July 29.
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