There is no question that one of the great stories in Major League Baseball season is the Houston Astros, who were ridiculed by some for their extensive use of analytics as they slogged their way through seasons of 100-plus losses, but are now enjoying the last laugh, in addition to a berth in the American League playoffs. On Tuesday they will visit Yankee Stadium for the American League wild card game against the New York Yankees in a game that is set to begin at 8 PM ET. Even after the opening pitch, BetAnySports customers will be able to place wagers on this game in progress through the facilities of Live Betting Extra.
Houston, with an 86-76 record, finished in second place in the AL West but beat out the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins for this spot. Their general manager, Jeff Luhnow, has been criticized by some for his unorthodox evaluation techniques, but they have worked, propelling this team into the post-season despite not having a lot of gaudy offensive numbers from individuals.
Only one player on the Astros' roster scored more than 67 runs. Only one player had more than 68 runs batted in. There is only one .300 hitter in the starting lineup. Yet only two teams compiled more stolen bases. Just one team (Toronto) hit more homers. They are also second to the Blue Jays in team OPS.
And then there is the pitching staff. Only two hurlers have more than seven wins, but the 1-2 punch is strong. In this game, which sends the winner into the divisional round, they go with their ace, Dallas Keuchel, who may have the inside track to the American League Cy Young award. He will be opposed by Masahiro Tanaka, last year's rookie sensation who has had to bounce back from injury to have a successful sophomore season.
In the baseball betting odds that have been placed on this game by the people at BetAnySports, the Astros, who had just a 33-48 road record (second worst in the AL) are the favorites:
Houston Astros (Keuchel) -110
New York Yankees (Tanaka) +100
Over 7 Runs -115
Under 7 Runs -105
The Yankees were the second place team in the AL East, but they get this home game by virtue of their 87-75 record. They have experienced their share of ups and downs, and the latest drama to come out of camp is the announcement that CC Sabathia, who had been the ace up until last year, is checking himself into rehab for alcohol abuse. On the positive side, they probably got a lot more than they expected out of Alex Rodriguez, who had 33 homers and an .842 OPS, putting in his claim for Comeback Player of the Year.
Tanaka has made a comeback of sorts as well, as he suffered an elbow injury last year that almost required Tommy John surgery. He's gone 12-7 with a 3.51 ERA, which does not compare favorably with his opponent tonight. But he doesn't have to, because he has the kind of bullpen behind him that can be deadly. Andrew Miller has truck out 100 batters in 61-2/3 innings, with the opposition hitting just .151 against him. Dellin Betances sets him up with 131 K's in 84 frames and a 1.50 ERA. Over the last two seasons, batters have compiled a .153 average against him.
Out of all the teams involved in this year's playoffs, the Astros are the longest shot on the board at BetAnySports, as they are priced at +1800. But in this kind of situation, it serves them well that they are sending their best guy to the mound. The 27-year-old Keuchel was the AL's only 20-game winner, and worked more innings than anyone. He also was second in the league in ERA (behind David Price). He has been very stingy with letting people on base, with the best WHIP ratio (walks plus hits per innings pitched) in the junior circuit.
The Astros are know throughout the major leagues for being a team that studies the tendencies of hitters and shifts the defense accordingly. In fact, they led everyone in that category, executing 1795 shifts, although it has resulted in only 17 base hits saved.
Free Pick: Houston Astros
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