With college football and the NFL both officially kicking off this weekend, many sports bettors are going to turn their attention to the gridiron. And while I am also excited about the return of football, I know that late-season Major League Baseball betting is one of the most profitable times of the year to bet America’s pastime.
In a normal season, by September, we know which teams are going to be title contenders, and for the most part, the playoff picture is fairly clear. Maybe one or two division races are close, and maybe we have three teams competing for the two wild-card spots, but at this point of the year, we know who is who.
Three weeks left. 👀 pic.twitter.com/pBhKCjTnq0
— MLB (@MLB) September 7, 2020
Not this year! This season, everything has been turned on its head, and nearly every team is mathematically still in the hunt for the postseason. Only the Oakland Athletics seem to have their division locked up at this point, and the NL East, NL Central, NL West, and AL Central are all too close to call, with no more than three and a half games separating first and second place.
Don’t worry, football will still be there in three weeks when the regular season is over, and you don’t want to take your eyes off of the diamond just yet! For today’s free daily betting pick, we will take a look at two teams that are both expected to be playing in the postseason, when the Houston Astros play the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Houston Astros (22-23) at Los Angeles Dodgers (32-13)
The Los Angeles Dodgers will continue their assault on the record books tonight as they host the Houston Astros in game one of a quick two-game series. The Dodgers have the best record in baseball, and if they can finish the season out strong, they have a chance to post the highest regular-season winning percentage in MLB history.
For Houston, the Astros are trying to back into the postseason, as they have lost eight out of their last ten games and are plunging down the standings. If the season were to end today, the Astros would be in the postseason though, as they are in second place in the American League West Division, two and a half games ahead of the Seattle Mariners.
Starting tonight for the Dodgers is Julio Urias (3-0 3.86 ERA), and for the Astros, it is Framber Valdez (3-3 3.61 ERA). The game total over/under is set at nine runs. The Dodgers are -145 home field favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 5:07 PM PST from Dodger Stadium in LA.
Does it really matter if the Houston Astros make the playoffs or not? At this point, I think we can all see that Houston won’t be able to do anything in the postseason if they do find a way to sneak in. So, the difference between the Astros getting into the postseason or not, is probably just a couple of games, as they are sure to have an early exit.
It will be very interesting to see if Houston decides to blow it up and start a rebuild next year, after a solid run of multi-year sustained success that saw them win a World Series title and get back to the Fall Classic last year, coming up just short to the Washington Nationals. Houston is 3-9 in the month of September, and the only reason they are still in the playoff hunt, is that their division has been awful this season, with the first-place Athletics being the only team with a winning record out west.
Framber Valdez (3-3 3.61 ERA)
Just like the rest of this Houston team, Framber Valdez was looking pretty good for most of the year until recently. Through August, Valdez was 3-2 with a 2.35 ERA. In August, Houston won four out of the five games he started. But here in September, the wheels have fallen off for Valdez.
In two September starts, Valdez had pitched fourteen innings and has gotten blasted for eleven earned runs on sixteen hits and five walks. The Astros lost both games to the Angels and the Rangers, teams with a combined record of just 33-57.
Valdez has done a great job of getting deep into games for Houston this year, though, as he has pitched into the seventh inning in his last four starts. But when you look at the fact that he has allowed eighteen runs in those four starts, you have to wonder if the Astros are leaving him in these games too long?
Los Angeles Dodgers
If the Los Angeles Dodgers finish this season with 44-wins, they will finish with the highest winning percentage in modern Major League Baseball history. Only time will tell if a record like that in a shortened 60-game season will be remembered fondly or slapped with an asterisk and called a fluke, but there is no denying that what the Dodgers are doing this year is special.
LA must finish the year by winning twelve of their last fifteen games to break the record. And while that is going to be a tall task for sure, they have won 21 out of their last 27 games, so they can absolutely do it if they play well. The Dodgers did lose their last game against the Arizona Diamondbacks and will look to avoid losing back to back games for just the third time this year.
Julio Urias (3-0 3.86 ERA)
Julio Urias is somehow still just 23-years old. Urias has been pitching in the big leagues since he was a teenager but got his first chance to be a regular every fifth-day starter this year for the Dodgers. Urias has done a great job of taking advantage of that opportunity as he has pitched well and has yet to pick up a losing decision. Urias has been particularly good when he pitches at home as he is 2-0 with a 3.16 ERA at Dodger Stadium.
Who Do I Like?
If you have been reading my daily picks this season, you will notice that I have been able to bet the Houston Astros a lot this year, with a high level of accuracy. That’s because this Astros team is extremely predictable. When favored in a game, the Houston Astros basically never lose as they are 16-4. When they are betting underdogs, the Astros basically never win, as they are a Major League worst 2-12.
Ten of those twelve losses when underdogs have come on the road. In the Astros last series against the Oakland Athletics, I bet against them three times, all three times with them being underdogs, and they lost all three games. I have rarely seen a trend stronger on a team than the one the Astros are following right now.
Repeat after me. I will fade the Astros when they are underdogs. Say it again, I will fade the Astros when they are underdogs. And with the strong trend in the opposite direction, you might as well add in, I will back Houston when favored, to that mantra as well.
This line opened up with the Dodgers laying -160, and shockingly, has moved towards Houston as the public is backing the Astros. I haven’t a clue what they see in Houston in this matchup, and I would expect this ferocious Dodgers lineup to hammer Framber Valdez.
I guess the fact that LA has lost three out of their last five games has the public thinking this team is running out of steam or something? I am thinking it was more the fact that LA had played thirteen games in twelve days, without a day off, that caused them to lose their first series of the year to the Colorado Rockies. The Dodgers got a rare day off yesterday, and I expect fireworks from them tonight at home, as they are rested and ready to go. Give me the Los Angeles Dodgers at a criminally underpriced -145 as they rough up the Astros!