Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press
Last year’s World Series ended with arguably the most memorable game in baseball history, featuring an extra-inning rain delay and 108 years of frustration melting away.
This year’s postseason may already be delivering more drama.
The same Chicago Cubs who won the title last year outlasted the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series in white-knuckle fashion 9-8 thanks to a seven-out save from closer Wade Davis and seven straight runs after falling behind 4-1.
The New York Yankees lost the first two games in their American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians and battled back to win the next three against the defending AL champs, who had the second-best record in the entire league.
The Bronx Bombers also rallied from an early 3-0 deficit against the Minnesota Twins in the AL Wild Card Game and used their bullpen to record every out but one.
It wasn’t all dramatics, as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros combined to lose a single game while dispatching the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox, respectively. But there promises to be plenty more thrills in the championship series.
Here is a look at the odds, schedule and a prediction for each series. The schedules are per MLB.com, while the World Series futures odds are according to OddsShark, as of Thursday at 12:30 a.m. ET.
American League Championship Series
Odds to Win World Series
Astros +225 (2.25-1)
Yankees +375 (3.75-1)
Game 1: New York Yankees at Houston Astros; Friday Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. ET on FS1
Game 2: New York Yankees at Houston Astros; Saturday, Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. ET on Fox
Game 3: Houston Astros at New York Yankees; Monday, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. on FS1
Game 4: Houston Astros at New York Yankees; Tuesday, Oct. 17 at TBD on Fox/FS1
Game 5*: Houston Astros at New York Yankees; Wednesday, Oct. 18 at TBD on Fox/FS1
Game 6*: New York Yankees at Houston Astros; Friday, Oct. 20 at TBD on Fox/FS1
Game 7*: New York Yankees at Houston Astros; Saturday, Oct. 21 at TBD on Fox/FS1
David Dermer/Associated Press
Conventional wisdom suggests the Astros are going to win this series.
Not only do they get home-field advantage, but they were also 10 games better than the Yankees during the course of the regular season (101 wins to 91 wins). What’s more, Houston’s offense led Major League Baseball, with 896 runs, and mashed the Boston Red Sox for 24 runs in the four-game AL Division Series.
There is no shortage of firepower, with Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman and more, and the trio of Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers atop the rotation should thrive with the proper run support.
However, the pick here is the Yankees.
The Bronx Bombers sport a formidable offense of their own and finished second in the league in runs this season, with 858. More importantly, their bullpen will allow manager Joe Girardi to shorten games against Houston’s potent group, much like it did in the comeback against Cleveland.
Dayn Perry of CBSSports.com noted the combination of Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green, Jaime Garcia and Adam Warren posted a 2.70 ERA in 20 innings against the Indians, silencing a playoff-hardened group that went to last year’s World Series.
The Yankees wouldn’t have even reached the Indians series were it not for the bullpen’s performance in the AL Wild Card Game against the Twins. Starting pitcher Luis Severino recorded a single out and allowed three runs, but Green, Robertson, Kahnle and Chapman allowed one run and five hits in 8.2 innings to save the season.
The thought here is the Yankees will take a lead into the sixth inning in four of the ALCS games and ride the bullpen to a spot in the World Series.
Predicted winner: New York Yankees
National League Championship Series
Odds to Win World Series
Dodgers +195 (1.95-1)
Cubs +750 (7.5-1, but from before they beat the Nationals)
Game 1: Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers; Saturday, Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. ET on TBS
Game 2: Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers; Sunday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET on TBS
Game 3: Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs; Tuesday, Oct. 17 at TBD on TBS
Game 4: Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs; Wednesday, Oct. 18 at TBD on TBS
Game 5*: Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs; Thursday, Oct. 19 at TBD on TBS
Game 6*: Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers; Saturday, Oct. 21 at TBD on TBS
Game 7*: Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers; Sunday, Oct. 22 at TBD on TBS
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
The battle between the Nationals and Cubs couldn’t have gone better for the Dodgers.
While they were patiently awaiting the winner in Los Angeles, Chicago used starters Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in Game 4 and Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana in Game 5. The latter threw just 12 pitches and may be able to go in Game 1, but using all four in a two-day span puts a serious bind on the rotation.
That’s not even accounting for the 44 high-stress pitches from All-Star closer Davis after he pitched in Game 4.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles can line up its rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Rich Hill and rely on offensive forces such as Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Justin Turner to get to a taxed Chicago bullpen.
It would be unwise to doubt this Cubs team, which overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers in last season’s NLCS, a 3-1 deficit against the Indians in the World Series and battled back to win Game 5 against Washington on Thursday. But things are lined up perfectly for L.A., the team with the league’s best regular-season record (104-58) this year.
The battle between New York and Los Angeles will be set.
Predicted winner: Los Angeles Dodgers