Four teams are fighting for two tickets to the 2023 MLB World Series — who’s advancing and who’s not? We think we have answers. Here are two betting picks to make on the ALCS and NLCS!
- What: 2023 ALCS and NLCS
- When: Ongoing
NLCS Betting Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks at Philadelphia Phillies
Arizona is the Cinderella team left standing. They ended the regular season on a four-game losing skid yet have won five games in a row — including three against Los Angeles, a team that won 16 more games than they did. It’s been an insane run, but as it stands, the best betting sites for baseball think it’ll end this series. That’s because the Phillies are convincing favorites to beat out the Diamondbacks, as seen in the underneath odds:
Home-field advantage is mostly overrated in MLB, but Citizens Bank Park is a noticeable exception. The Phillies are a whopping 25-11 playoff record at this park. A year ago, they won their first six contests in Philadelphia. This season, they’re outscoring opponents 21-4 in three games there. It doesn’t just seem balls fly out of this stadium for the Phillies, it’s the real thing. Get this, since opening in 2001, the team has belted 60 homers in playoff games here. Away? Only 30 during that same stretch.
That’s a dangerous advantage to have considering Philadelphia has a stud lineup up and down the order. Surely, you recognize the names on the lineup — of Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, and Nick Castellanos. Arizona lacks that name recognition, but not production as of late. Just ask the mighty Dodgers who had to pull ace Clayton Kershaw after retiring just one batter versus the Dbacks. Arizona also went yard four times in one inning against LA starter Lance Lynn. Yeah, this Cinderella team is red-hot.
Of course, pitching is going to be the big difference-maker. Both clubs have two aces they can rely on — for four games of the series goes the full seven. Arizona will have Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly whereas Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola will go for Philadelphia. Statistically, all four are top-10 or so pitchers in the NL this season.
Here’s the X-factor, though: depth. Honestly, the Phillies have it and the Diamondbacks might not. Once you get past the two aces, we’re more confident in what Philly has to offer. The same goes for the bullpen. Arizona has benefited from playing short series in the wildcard and NLDS. But a seven-game series is a different animal that demands depth. We suspect that’ll be their undoing, along with those rowdy Citizens Bank Park. Our money is squarely on the Phillies to return to the Fall Classic for a second straight time.
ALCS Betting Pick: Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers
Originally, Houston was the favorite to advance out of the ALCS. However, after Game 1, that has flipped. Texas is the new ALCS favorite over Houston, as reflected in the underneath odds:
The Rangers gutted out a 2-0 victory on the road to start the series. The Astros’ Justin Verlander turned back the clock (again) to stomp out a red-hot Texas lineup, but Houston’s batters couldn’t do a thing. The Astros mustered just five singles in Game 1 and that’s it.
We would say we’re surprised, but not really. At this point, Houston struggling to hit at home is a recurring theme in 2023. During the year, they’re averaging .249 in their own ballpark with 92 home runs. Both those numbers are well below their 2022 figures of .257 and 116 homers.
We do have to remind ourselves though, it seems like every reason we try to find a reason to not bet the Astros. And more times than not, they figure it out. Remember, this is their seventh straight appearance in the league championship series. Four of the previous six resulted in a World Series trip. So there’s no way Houston is pushing the panic button after a bad outing in Game 1.
Our money is going on the Astros. We think that the Game 1 defeat was a blessing for bettors who now get Houston's line at plus-money odds. Our belief is the Rangers pitching comes undone over a seven-game series. Everyone is expecting Max Scherzer to pull a Willis Reed and save the day off an injury, but we don’t want to stake our bet on that major what-if scenario. Houston will use its depth and experience to roar back and book another trip to the Fall Classic. Bank on it!
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