The Wild Card round is done and dusted, with all four series ending in the minimum two games. That means we’re already on to the Divisional round, where some truly titanic matchups await as the top two seeds in both leagues enter the fray after some much-deserved time off. Before we get to that, though, it’s time to take a look at how the past couple days of playoff baseball have affected pennant odds over at DraftKings Sportsbook. We’ll start with the AL, where the Rangers and Twins won their respective Wild Card series.
American League pennant odds as of Thursday, Oct. 5
Unsurprisingly, the two teams who we saw play this week — the Rangers and Twins, each of whom advanced to the Division Series in convincing two-game sweeps — are the two big risers here. Texas has now pulled into a tie for the second-shortest odds with the Orioles, the team they’ll match up with in the ALDS starting on Saturday. The Twins, meanwhile, jumped from +750 before the postseason to +370 ahead of their ALDS matchup with the Astros. Houston remains the AL favorite at +180.
Just last week, the Astros were 2.5 games out of the AL West lead and on the cusp of missing the postseason entirely. After a wild few days and a sweep of the D-backs in Arizona, Houston snatched its sixth division title in seven years — and sits as the betting favorite to make its second straight World Series. Of course, this isn’t your older brother’s Astros team: Yes, Justin Verlander is back, but he and the rest of this rotation have had a bumpy September, while the lineup is a bit thin after the big four of Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker. Houston has owned this league in recent years and deserves the benefit of the doubt, but tread carefully, especially given how impressive Minnesota’s pitching looked against Toronto.
The O’s, meanwhile, have the league’s best record and home-field throughout the playoffs — and yet DraftKings has their series against the Rangers as a pick ‘em. Texas looked awfully impressive in blanking the Rays. That said, Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson and Co. have as much firepower as anyone, and while the rotation flies under the radar, Kyle Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez and the returning John Means are an underrated trio. If Yennier Cano can do his best Felix Bautista impression, there’s no reason why Baltimore can’t keep this run going all the way to the World Series — they just took two of three in Houston this month, after all.
There’s not nearly as much juice as there was when we did this exercise a few days ago, but the Twins still jump out here. If you’re looking for a reason why they could shock the world and make a World Series run, well, just look at that rotation — would you want to face Pablo Lopez, Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan in a short series, with Bailey Ober and Kenta Maeda waiting in the wings? Whether the Twins can score enough is an open question, but they’ve been better this month and might even get Byron Buxton back for the Divisional round. For the team with the longest odds of the field, you can make a surprisingly compelling case, especially given Houston’s rickety form of late (just 14-13 over their last 27 games).
Pick: Orioles +275