We have yet another day with two playoff games -- possibly our last, but hopefully not -- as the league championship series move on. The Red Sox host the Astros for the AL's Game 5 with the series tied, 2-2. The Dodgers host the Braves for Game 4 on the NL side, with the Braves clinging to a 2-1 lead.
As has been and will continue to be the case, I'm doing the game picks over on SportsLine. I've gone 16-8-1 thus far in the playoffs -- and that was after an 0-1-1 (moneyline and over/under pick) start in the AL Wild Card Game -- so hop on over there and subscribe.
In this space, we'll focus on props, the over/under and other fun. Note: The Braves-Dodgers odds aren't posted yet, but we'll add in pick(s) once they are.
All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
Over 9.5, -110
It happened late -- really, really late -- but the Astros' ninth-inning outburst hit the over for us in Game 4. Let's ride the wave. Here are the reasons.
The Red Sox offense has shown what an absolute wrecking crew it can be several times this postseason. Even after only scoring two runs in Game 4, they are still slugging .539 this series.
The Astros offense just busted loose in Game 4 and we've seen plenty of them crushing opposing pitchers this regular season and postseason. They've now scored 53 runs in eight playoff games after leading the AL in runs scored. They mash opposing lefties and get Chris Sale to start.
Sale has better numbers at home than on the road, but nothing he's shown in the last several weeks gives any kind of confidence that he can throw well for any legitimate length of time. Tanner Houck will likely be summoned early by Alex Cora and expected to get length in this one. He did so well in the ALDS. He also gave up a game-tying, two-run Jose Altuve homer in his only inning this series.
Framber Valdez has allowed six earned runs in seven innings in two playoff starts so far and Astros relievers have been pushed as hard as they can just to finish games. Don't blame Dusty Baker. He's having to work with basically no starters this series. There's only so much he can do.
As I often like to outline on over bets, it might look a bit high, but 6-4 gets us home here. That's a reasonable prediction, right?
Chris Sale under 3.5 strikeouts, +110
As I often like to say here, in stealing a classic movie line, you wanna get nuts? Let's get nuts!
Betting on Chris Sale to strike out fewer than four hitters in a game seems like a fool's errand when you remove all current context and just hear the words "Chris Sale only strikes out three."
He only struck out two in his 2 2/3 innings in Game 1 of this series. He only struck out two in his ALDS start (though that was only one inning).
The added context is that the Astros remain one of the toughest teams to strike out in the playoffs. They've struck out 28 times in this series so far and that's in 35 innings, a good rate these days.
We also know the Astros feast on lefties.
And finally, the most important factor. The Red Sox will operate in this game like it's a must-win. They can't go back to Houston down three games to two. Houck threw five innings in relief of Sale in ALDS Game 2 in a similar must-win situation. Cora will have an equally quick hook with Sale in this one as he did in Sale's previous two playoff starts. In that case, I'm betting he doesn't have enough time to get to four strikeouts.
Over 8.0, -110
Through three games in the series, the Dodgers have a .362 on-base percentage, thanks to 24 hits and 17 walks. They had just put together a number of terrible at-bats with runners in scoring position, leaving a small village on the basepaths up until the eighth-inning explosion in Game 3. They left seven on in Game 1 and 10 in Game 2. Even with the six runs and the win in Game 3, they still left 10 on in Game 3.
Getting on base on a regular basis is much more predictive of future offensive performance than small-sample issues with runners in scoring position, so it was really only a matter of time before the offense broke out.
That continues in Game 4. The Braves have had to scratch scheduled starter Huascar Ynoa due to a shoulder injury, which means it's a bullpen game. The Braves have several good bullpen pieces, but with so many chances at getting someone on an off-night, we'll predict the Dodgers score plenty of runs.
On the other side, we've seen enough from this Braves offense to believe they're good for at least a small handful of runs against good pitching. They are hitting .275 as a team this series.
BONUS: Cody Bellinger home run, +350
After a lost regular season in which he was ravaged with injuries, Bellinger has made adjustments and looks more like his old self. He's hitting .292/.393/.458 with six RBI through 28 playoff plate appearances. He hadn't yet homered until the Big Blow in Game 3. He's already seen several of the best Braves' bullpen arms this series, so let's roll the dice on back-to-back games with homers.