The Tampa Bay Rays have been defying the odds for some time now. When we use that term, we mean that in a sport without a salary cap, there is an opportunity for richer teams to buy more star players. Not that the Los Angeles Dodgers have gone crazy on the free agent markup, but they do have the second highest payroll in the major leagues.
This doesn't faze the Rays one bit. After all, they are 28th in the category of payroll, meaning that only two teams have a lower-priced roster. But they have beaten the #1 (New York Yankees) and #4 (Houston Astros) clubs on their way to the World Series.
BetAnySports customers can see Game 1 on Tuesday night at 8:08 PM ET. All of the games Will take place at Globe Life Field in Arlington, TX, which is home to the Texas Rangers, as well as the ballpark where the Dodgers played the National League Championship Series, where they beat the Atlanta Braves.
Clayton Kershaw has been a dominant pitcher on his way to three Cy Young awards and a certain place in the Hall of Fame. But he's never really been a post-season hero. And like this whole Dodger roster, he's not been a World Series champion. He starts Game 1 against Tampa Bay's Tyler Glasnow, who throws a nasty fastball and curve at hitters.
The Rays, who had the best record in the American League, got help out of nowhere in the playoffs, as little-known outfielder Randy Arozarena exploded for seven home runs, including four in the ALCS, winning the MVP award for the series.
Corey Seager is in no way anonymous, but he came though in a similar fashion for the Dodgers, as he had five homers and eleven RBI against Atlanta. Mookie Betts has yet to really explode, but he's had difficulty offering a power boost in his post-season career, with one homer in 33 games.
In the World Series betting odds that have been posted by the people at BetAnySports on Game 1, the Dodgers are the favorites:
Los Angeles Dodgers (Kershaw - L) -157
Tampa Bay Rays (Glasnow - R) +147
Over 7.5 Runs -110
Under 7.5 Runs -110
Dodgers -1.5 Runs +130
Rays +1.5 Runs -150
In the series, the Dodgers are priced at -210, with the Rays at +175.
Glasnow came to Tampa in the Chris Archer trade, and he has been the top starter for the team in the regular season, although admittedly Charlie Morton was top dog in the ALCS. And on a team that will not hesitate to go to the bullpen, it is worth noting that the Rays have had an extra day of rest between the championship series and this point, and that will mean a lot to Kevin Cash, since unlike the previous round, there will be a day off after Game 2. And the 'pen has been solid, ranking fourth best in all of MLB in strikeout-walk ratio.
Kershaw has always been kind of a paradox, because his numbers have been a little different between the regular season and post-season. For example, although his WHIP ratio, or K-BB ratio is not all that much different, there is a great disparity in his ERA figure, which is 2.75 in regular season play and a rather ordinary 4.31 in post-season action. Why is that? Well, one reason is that he has given up twice as many homers per nine innings in the post-season. And the roof will be open at the ballpark, which should promote the idea of the ball carrying farther.
One gets the feeling that Dave Roberts is much less likely to yank Kershaw than Kevin Cash is to take Glasnow out of the game. And so there exists the possibility, if Kershaw does not have the "A" game, that it could be like a fighter taking a few too many punches before the referee stops it.
At any rate, while we do understand that the Dodgers have scored more runs and hit more homers than any other major league team, Kershaw might be a bit overvalued here. When you are a franchise used to slaying the (financial) giants, being an underdog against an underachieving post-season pitcher is not such a hurdle.
So we are willing to take this underdog price with the Rays, in Game 1 and in the series as well, and we say even if the news star, Arozarena, plays a huge part in it.
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