MLB Free Pick: Sale Helps Red Sox to Winning Start in ALDS at Astros

Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale

Willie Bee

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 7:34 PM GMT

Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 7:34 PM GMT

The 2017 MLB Playoffs continue Thursday in Houston where Justin Verlander and the Astros are MLB odds favorites against Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox.

Season: 84-85-4 (+2.63, 1 pick pending)

With dynamic offenses on both sides plus solid arms in their rotations and bullpens, the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros might provide the best matchup of the four League Division Series. Too bad much of the country won’t see it with at least the first two games slated for afternoon start times.

Game 1 is slated for the first pitch to be delivered Thursday a little after 4 PM (ET), that toss from the right arm belonging to Justin Verlander (15-8, 3.36) who is opposed by Boston’s Chris Sale (17-8, 2.90). Early action has been on Houston with the MLB odds up to -127 for the Astros after opening -127. The total has been set at 7, evenly priced high and low.

 

Sale Seeing Postseason Action For 1st Time

These clubs just closed the regular season against each other in Boston, Houston taking 3-of-4 to win the season series, 4-3. The money lines in all seven games were tight, the Astros’ -140 closing number at Bookmaker this past Sunday the biggest chalk. Totals split in the four at Fenway and ran 1-2 O/U at Minute Maid back in June.

Much is being made about this being Sale’s first postseason game, though I’m not placing much importance on that after the year he had. Five of his final eight assignments weren’t pretty, but Sale will be facing an Astros team he’s done well against in the past, and one that went 21-24 against southpaw starters in 2017. Verlander has been money since joining the Astros just before September, winning all five starts while compiling a 1.06 ERA. The Tigers split his two games against Boston earlier, Verlander allowing three earned runs in 12 innings.

 

Umpire Notes, Final Thoughts & A Free Pick

Ted Barrett is in charge of the umpire crew for this series, his 24th postseason series and 7th-straight year to be part of October. Barrett positions himself at second for Game 1 with Dan Bellino behind the plate. Bellino had a strong ‘under’ tendency in 2017 (8-18-2), and worked two games in Houston that both saw Brad Peacock start for the Astros and finish ‘under’ the totals. It should also be pointed out that one of the worst umps in the business is part of the crew. Angel Hernandez will be at first base Thursday, and there should be a prop bet on whether the first play that gets reviewed involves one of his calls.

With the thermometer climbing up to 90° Thursday in Houston, expect the Minute Maid roof to be closed. This Houston lineup is capable of teeing off on any pitcher, even Sale, but his history against the Astros has me playing Boston for my free baseball pick.

Free MLB Pick: Red Sox +122Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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