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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.

Noah Syndergaard on Mets extending Jacob deGrom: ‘Pay the man already.’

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March has marked contract extension season across Major League Baseball. Just in the last week, we have seen Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Brandon Lowe, Alex Bregman, Ryan Pressly, Mike Trout, Eloy Jiménez, Blake Snell, and Paul Goldschmidt sign extensions. Nolan Arenado, Luis Severino, and Aaron Nola also notably signed extensions during the offseason.

One name strikingly absent from that list: Mets ace Jacob deGrom. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts and 46 walks across 217 innings. It’s the lowest ERA by a qualified starter since Zack Greinke‘s 1.66 in 2015. Prior to Greinke, no pitcher had posted an ERA of 1.70 or lower since Greg Maddux in 1994-95 (1.56, 1.63).

deGrom is earning $17 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration eligibility going into the 2020 season. He will turn 31 years old in June, but is an obvious extension candidate for the Mets, who have built arguably their most competitive team since 2015, when the club lost the World Series in five games to the Royals. Thus far, though, the Mets and deGrom haven’t been able to get anywhere in extension talks.

deGrom’s rotation mate Noah Syndergaard is watching. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Syndergaard said, “I think Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want them to keep him happy so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all the fuss and pay the man already.”

Syndergaard added that the recent extension trend around baseball — and deGrom’s lack of an extension to date — sends a message. He said, “I think so, yes, because of what you see in what’s going on in baseball right now. If there wasn’t a trend of other guys getting contract extensions, then I don’t know what the circumstance would be. But you see Chris Sale, Verlander getting extensions. I think it’s time Jacob gets one too.”

Part of the equation behind the recent rash of extensions is the stagnation of free agency. Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel — two of baseball’s better pitchers — have gone through almost an entire spring training without being signed. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado didn’t find new homes until late February. Free agents in their 30’s are largely being underpaid or otherwise forgotten about. Extensions represent financial security for young and old players alike. Syndergaard himself can become a free agent after the 2021 season, so if deGrom’s prospects improve, then so too will his, at least without knowing the details of the next collective bargaining agreement which will be put into place ahead of the 2022 season.