After a few days off, Major League Baseball presents a doubleheader that could be an ALCS preview. Not bad.
The New York Yankees start the second half — yes, it's a misnomer because more than half the season is done, deal with it — at the Houston Astros. They're not just playing once on Thursday. We get to see the two best teams in the American League face off twice.
The Astros are a -120 favorite at BetMGM for the first game of the doubleheader. Cristian Javier (3.22 ERA) starts the first game for Houston. Luis Garcia (3.65 ERA) starts the second. The Yankees' starters weren't official as of Thursday morning.
The Yankees are up by 13 games in their division and the Astros are up nine, so they're comfortable that way. But the two games Thursday are big. The Yankees are 64-28 and the Astros are 59-32. These are the last two games the teams will have against each other this season, though more are likely in October. Yankees-Astros is the most likely ALCS matchup, and the best regular-season record will have home-field advantage. These might be the two most important regular-season games both teams have the rest of the season.
The Astros have taken three of five in the season series already. Both teams are strong in just about every way. They can hit, they're deep in the starting rotation and the bullpens are good. I'd side with the Yankees pretty much any time they're an underdog, assuming no big surprises at starting pitcher.
It should be a fantastic doubleheader that feels like a mini playoff series right after the all-star break. Not a bad way to get things going again.
Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:
What other games do we get on Thursday?
There's a Detroit Tigers-Oakland A's doubleheader that won't thrill anyone, but is still there for your betting pleasure. Detroit is a -150 favorite in the first game and the A's are -160 in the second. Frankie Montas starts game two for the A's, and while he's good I could not lay -160 with the A's against anyone.
The Texas Rangers and Miami Marlins (-115) play early, and the San Francisco Giants face the Los Angeles Dodgers (-150) in a great rivalry game.
What else is there?
We have the 3M Open starting in the golf world, and three WNBA games, including an 11:30 a.m. start between the New York Liberty and Washington Mystics. It's good to have something back on the sports betting board after some quiet days.
What's the best bet?
I'll take the Yankees in game one as an underdog, and whoever is the underdog in game two. The Yankees and Astros are so evenly matched up that you'll do just fine blindly taking the dog.