MLB Moves on to ALCS and NLCS Amid Playoff Format Debate

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The three winningest teams in the regular season, the Atlanta Braves (104 wins), Baltimore Orioles (101 wins), and the Los Angeles Dodgers (100 wins) were all knocked out in the Division Series. And that has some crying foul about Major League Baseball’s playoff format that gives the top two seeds in each league nearly a full week off.

The idea is that the teams that win in the Wild Card Series get into more of a groove, and enter the Division Series hotter and more focused. The best teams, coming off a layoff, take time to get rolling again, and in a best-of-five series there isn’t much time to do that.

Maybe there’s something to it. But perhaps it’s just baseball, where even the best team this year lost 58 regular season games.

Looking at those three teams specifically, the Orioles won three straight games when coming off the four-day All-Star break. The Dodgers won four of five games right after taking off the All-Star break, while the Braves lost a series to the Chicago White Sox after their four-day break.

The postseason came with five-day breaks, so one would think that everyone understands the routine of staying sharp and focused. Plus the four teams coming off the break have the advantage of starting at home. And the Houston Astros have been on bye in each of the two years of the new format, and each time they have easily advanced to the ALCS.

American League Showdown in Texas

The Texas Rangers and Houston Astros first met in 2001 during interleague play, with the winner of the all-Texas series getting the coveted Silver Boot. The Rangers won in that first year, and the Astros got in the next two years. But by the time Houston moved into the American League West before 2013, the Rangers led the series, 9-3.

The Astros have won the season series in each of the last three years, beating Texas in nine of 13 games this season. They are also heading to their seventh straight American League Championship Series, while this is the Rangers first visit to the ALCS since they lost the World Series in 2011.

MLB betting can be done on each of the games of the series, or on which team will emerge as the A.L. champ and move on to the World Series. has the Astros as the favorite to win the series, paying -140.

Game 1 is Sunday, October 15, in Houston.

Two Wild Cards to Decide National League Title

The Philadelphia Phillies finished 14 games behind the Braves in the National League East, but beat them in the Division Series, 3-1. The Arizona Diamondbacks finished 16 games behind the Dodgers in the National League West, but swept them 3-0 in the Division Series.

The Phillies are playoff seasoned, having played last year in the World Series. They also have a legitimate October great in Bryce Harper, who has 14 career home runs in the postseason and three in six games this year. His career postseason OPS is fifth all-time among players with at least 150 plate appearances.

Philadelphia also has Nick Castellanos, the first player in playoff history to hit two home runs in back-to-back games.

The NLCS begins on Monday, October 16, in Philadelphia, and has the Phillies at -163 on the moneyline to win Game 1.

World Series Odds

Houston Astros (+185)

Philadelphia Phillies (+200)

Texas Rangers (+285)

Arizona Diamondbacks (+450)

The Astros began the postseason with the third-shortest odds to win the World Series. Now, has the defending champions as the favorites to repeat.

The two teams in this postseason that have yet to lose a game – the Rangers and Diamondbacks — are both 5-0 and are at the bottom of the World Series odds.

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