World Series 2017 Odds: Are Dodgers or Astros Favored to Win?

Baseball’s Fall Classic kicks off Tuesday night, and Las Vegas oddsmakers are predicting a fairly tight matchup between the National League’s Los Angeles Dodgers and the American League’s Houston Astros.

The Dodgers are currently listed as a -165 favorite to snatch their first world title since 1988, according to sportsbook Bovada.lv, with the Astros a slight underdog at +145 to capture what would be the sole title in the franchise’s history.

This marks Houston’s second foray onto baseball’s biggest stage. The Astros last appeared in 2005, but fell to the Chicago White Sox in four games.

The line for Game One, taking place at Dodger Stadium, largely reflects how close a call this series could be. Los Angeles is favored by 1.5 runs, with the score over/under set at seven runs.

The Dodgers will send ace lefty Clayton Kershaw to the mound for Game One, while Houston counter’s with Dallas Keuchel.

Neither team was expected to make it this far at the beginning of the season. Oddsmakers originally pegged the reigning champion Chicago Cubs as the favorite to come out of the NL and win it all, while the AL was expected to be represented by the Boston Red Sox as of around Opening Day this year.

But the Dodgers and Astros didn’t just defy the odds: They mostly tore through opponents on their way to lining up for baseball’s biggest crown.

Los Angeles swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in three games to start the postseason, and then took care of the Cubs in the National League Championship Series, outscoring Chicago 28-8 over five games.

Much of the credit belongs to second-year Dodgers manager Dave Roberts’s powerful lineup, but Los Angeles’s pitching staff has been outright dominant, too. Third baseman Justin Turner has punished the ball, with three home runs and 12 runs batted in while leading the team with 21 total basses and clocking a .387 average. Right fielder Yasiel Puig stood out with six RBI, 19 total bases and a .414 average.

But it’s the Dodgers’ starting rotation and bullpen that kept Chicago at bay. Kershaw shook off his past weak performances in the playoffs in allowing seven total earned runs in 17 1 /3 innings over three games—all Dodger victories—and recording 16 total strikeouts.

Righty Yu Darvish, who Los Angeles acquired from Texas in July, has notched 14 strikeouts and allowed only eight hits in his two starts this postseason, while Kenta Maeda, Kenley Jensen and Bardon Morrow have led the bullpen, giving up only one run between the three of them in 21 1/ 3 innings of work.

Like the Dodgers, Houston largely coasted in its opening-round series, beating Boston in four games. But the Astros needed the full seven games to drop the New York Yankees, overcoming a 3-2 series deficit by outscoring the Yankees 11-1 in the final two games of the American League Championship Series.

Houston’s offense is led by a three-headed infield attack: second baseman Jose Altuve, an AL MVP candidate; first baseman Yuli Gurriel; and shortstop Carlos Correa. Combined, they’ve accounted for 78 of the Astros’ 147 total bases, with eight home runs and 21 RBI. Altuve’s been especially hot, hitting .400 and slugging at .775.

Along with Keuchel, the Astros are led by former Detroit Tigers star Justin Verlander, who has rediscovered his old form and leads the Astros with four postseason wins. Verlander’s been virtually unhittable, with a 1.46 ERA and 24 strikeouts, while Keuchel’s been nearly as strong, with a 2.60 ERA and 25 strikeouts.

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