ALCS Betting Preview: Oddsmakers, Bettors Backing Astros

Houston Astros pitcher Framber Valdez throws a pitch against the Boston Red Sox
Image Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros are in the American League Championship Series for the fifth straight year dating to 2017, when they cheated their way to a World Series title. They’ll be facing the Boston Red Sox, who return to the ALCS for the first time since 2018, when they, too, won a tainted title under the leadership of Alex Cora … who was the mastermind behind Houston’s cheating scandal.

If MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is going to allow this, he should fully commit to it and have an all-cheating Old Timer’s Game before first pitch. See if Barry Bonds can take Gaylord Perry deep. Let Bobby Valentine call the shots from behind his Groucho glasses.

No matter how loathsome this matchup, it’s still two teams playing for the pennant, and that means you can bring a touch of nobility and grace to the event through the virtuous and upstanding act of betting. At least pretend like you’ll give the money to a children’s hospital if you win. Even if you don’t mean it, you’ll still rank ahead of Cora on the morality scale.

Let’s preview this best-of-7 battle, which begins at 8:07 p.m. ET today in Houston.

Odds updated as of 3 p.m. ET October 15.

Red Sox vs. Astros

Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve forces out Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogarts at second base
Image Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Houston: 95-67, won AL West; defeated Chicago White Sox 3-1 in the ALDS
Boston: 92-70, T-2nd in the AL East; won AL Wild Card Game; defeated Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in the ALDS
Season series: Astros won, 5-2

BetMGM: Houston -150/Boston +125
Circa Sports: Houston -145/Boston +125
DraftKingsHouston -145/Boston +120
PointsBet: Houston -154/Boston +115
TwinSpires:  Houston -148/Boston +112. Series total Over 5.5 games -190/Under 5.5 games +145

As you can see, the Astros are solid favorites across the board heading into tonight’s Game 1. And early on, the majority of bettors were piling on Houston’s bandwagon. For instance, as of Wednesday afternoon, the Astros were taking 57 percent of the tickets and 74 percent of the money at TwinSpires Sportsbook.

“We opened Astros -155. We’ve already seen a mix of public and sharp money come in on Houston,” said Zachary Lucas, TwinSpires trading analyst. “Haven’t seen much buyback yet on Boston.”

A lot has changed in 48 hours, though — namely that Houston ace Lance McCullers (forearm tightness) was left off the ALCS roster. As a result, the Astros’ odds dropped across the board, albeit modestly. At TwinSpires, the series has shifted to Houston -148/Boston +112.

History Is On Houston’s Side

Houston Astros outfielder Yordan Alvarez swings at a pitch in a game at Fenway Park in Boston
Image Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no question why the Astros are a comfortable favorite in the series. When our two contenders last saw each other, Houston was taking two of three in Fenway Park in June, just a week after they took three of four at Minute Maid Park. Final tally in the seven meetings: Astros 42, Red Sox 25.

The Astros handily won the season series without McCullers tossing so much as a frame. (Houston even won one of those games with Jake Odorizzi on the hill. Jake Odorizzi! The Astros didn’t even buy him a plane ticket to Chicago!)

Boston will avoid seeing McCullers yet again in the ALCS, as the right-hander left Tuesday’s clincher in Chicago because of forearm tightness. There was hope McCullers — who started Games 1 and 4 against the White Sox — would be able to go by Game 3 of the ALCS, but the injury is serious enough that Houston shut him down.

With their ace out, the Astros will turn to Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14 ERA regular season) in Game 1 in Houston. The lefty started Game 2 of the ALDS and allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings. Rookie right-hander Luis Garcia (11-8, 3.30 ERA regular season; five runs allowed in 2 2/3 innings in ALDS) will start Game 2, with fellow righty Jose Urquidy (8-3, 3.62 ERA regular season) a strong candidate to start Game 3.

Red Sox Swing Their Way To ALCS 

Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez throws a pitch against the Houston Astros
Image Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox overcame the 100-win Rays, but not without a little luck (Hunter Renfroe’s outfield misadventures somehow kept the Sox alive in Game 3 long enough for Christian Vazquez to crank a game-winning and series-swinging dinger in the 13th inning) and a lot of offense (14 runs in Game 2 bailed them out of the 5-2 hole Chris Sale put them in after one inning).

Sale (5-1, 3.16 ERA in nine late-season starts) will get the ball in Game 1 tonight and try to atone for his one-inning, five-run effort in Tampa Bay. Boston right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (11-9, 3.75 ERA regular season) will get the ball in Game 2 after going 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in two playoff starts against the Yankees (Wild Card Game) and Rays (Game 3 of ALDS).

Boston’s ALDS Game 1 and 4 starter, Eduardo Rodriguez (13-8, 4.74 ERA regular season), would be available to pitch Game 3 at home. Pushing Rodriguez back to Game 3 makes sense, because  even though the southpaw was better this season on the road (3.95 ERA) than at Fenway Park (5.95 ERA), he owns an unsightly 8.53 ERA in his career at Minute Maid Park.

Place Your (Prop) Bets

Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park
Image Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

TwinSpires bettors who have gotten involved in the exact-series-outcome prop have taken a liking to Houston winning the series in six games — at +400, it’s TwinSpires’ biggest liability of the matchup.

Astros in seven is the second choice at +425, with Red Sox in six as the third choice at +500. TwinSpires also offers a series spread bet with the Astros -1.5 (winning the series by at least two games) at +135 and Red Sox +1.5 at -177.