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Red Sox opening as betting favorites vs. Dodgers

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Series prices could fluctuate wildly in a World Series matchup between two legacy franchises on opposite coasts. The Boston Red Sox are an opening -165 favorite with the Los Angeles Dodgers coming back as a +135 betting-line underdog on the World Series odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Red Sox, who host Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven series at Fenway Park on Tuesday and Wednesday, are attempting to become the sixth team in the last 24 seasons to win the World Series after having the best record in the regular season. The Dodgers are the 28th team to return to the World Series after losing the previous one and those teams are 15-12 all-time.

For Game 1, the Red Sox, with left-hander Chris Sale starting, are a -148 betting favorite while the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw are a +128 underdog and the total is at 7.5 runs. The total has gone OVER in Sale’s last three home starts and the total has also gone OVER in five of Kershaw’s last six starts on the road.

The Dodgers had the shorter turnaround – two days to the Red Sox’s five – after the league championship series and also had 17 fewer regular-season wins. However, they played at a nearly 100-win clip over the final three-quarters of the regular season (75-46 in the final 121 games).

Los Angeles offers higher-reward, higher-risk betting value, as its deep starting staff of Kershaw, Rich Hill Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler and its bullpen, anchored by Kenley Jansen, will try to stymie baseball’s best offense. The Dodgers bullpen had a 1.45 earned run average over 31 innings during their most recent series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Hitting-wise, the Dodgers are not as deep as the Red Sox and will need the likes of Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig to carry them.

Boston, paced by right fielder Mookie Betts, led MLB in runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage and has shown little sign of cooling off against October pitching.

The Red Sox’ series price will only go deeper into minus money if they overcome Kershaw in the opener, or take a 2-0 lead after Game 2. Speculators looking for more immediate value with Boston might want to bet a more specific outcome such as Red Sox in five games or six. There are reports that Betts will move to second base so that designated hitter J.D. Martinez can start during the games at Dodger Stadium, where National League rules will be used.

Boston has had consistent starting pitching for most of the playoffs from Sale, fellow lefty David Price and right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello. While there has been a great deal of hand-wringing about Boston’s bullpen, specifically closer Craig Kimbrel (7.11 ERA in the playoffs), middle relievers Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier and Joe Kelly have thrived at protecting leads.

Game 2 on Wednesday is also an all-lefty pitching matchup, with Hyun-Jin Ryu starting for the Dodgers while David Price starts for the Red Sox.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Keuchel apologizes for 2017 Astros’ sign-stealing scandal

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CHICAGO — Dallas Keuchel has become the first member of the 2017 Houston Astros to offer a public apology for the team’s sign-stealing scheme during their run to the World Series championship.

Speaking Friday at the fan convention for the Chicago White Sox, who signed the left-hander to a $55.5 million, three-year contract in December, Keuchel said he felt what happened was blown out of proportion, but he was sorry.

“I’m not going to go into specific detail, but during the course of the playoffs in `17, everybody was using multiple signs,” Keuchel said, “I mean, for factual purposes, when there’s nobody on base, when in the history of major league baseball has there been multiple signs?

“It’s just what the state of baseball was at that point and time,” the former AL Cy Young Award winner said. “Was it against the rules? Yes it was, and I personally am sorry for what’s come about, the whole situation.”

An investigation by Major League Baseball found the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

The process started in 2017, according to baseball’s investigation, and continued through the 2018 season. Houston won the franchise’s first championship three years ago, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series, and made it to the AL Championship Series in 2018.

“To the extent of the whole situation back then, I can tell you that not every game there was signs being stolen,” Keuchel said. “Some guys did a really good job, and sometimes we did as a group have signs but we still couldn’t hit the pitcher. So it wasn’t like every game we had everything going on.

“So at that point that’s when the whole system, it really works, a little bit, but at the same time, there was a human element where some guys were better than our hitters.”

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were suspended and then fired in the aftermath of MLB’s investigation, and the fallout likely will continue into the season. Managers Alex Cora of the Red Sox and Carlos Beltran of the Mets also lost their jobs over their role in the scheme, and Astros stars Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve faced heavy criticism for their first public comments after the investigation.

Oakland right-hander Mike Fiers also could be headed for an icy reception in some corners of the sport. MLB began its probe after Fiers, who played for the Astros in 2017, told The Athletic about the team’s scheme to steal signs.

Asked about Fiers, Keuchel called it a “tough subject” because of baseball’s tight-knit community in the locker room.

“It sucks to the extent of the clubhouse rule was broken and that’s where I’ll go with that,” Keuchel said. “I don’t really have much else to say about Mike.”