The Boston Red Sox continue to separate themselves from the rest of the pack in the World Series title race.
A hot September surge has vaulted the Red Sox into command of the American League East, as the team looks to lock down its second division crown in four years.
Much of that success has been propelled by the sudden rejuvenated rotation, which features surprise Cy Young candidate Rick Porcello — a Detroit Tigers castoff who has racked up his first career 20-win season. Southpaw David Price, who inked an off-season mega-deal worth $217M with the Red Sox, has also found his touch on the mound at the perfect time.
“It all begins and ends with starting pitching,” Boston manager John Farrell told nesn.com in a recent interview. “As long as we’re able to keep the game under control, we like the way we’re able to build some innings offensively.”
Here’s a look at a few World Series favorites and a dark horse to keep an eye on heading into the Fall Classic.
Chicago Cubs (+250)
The Cubs were pegged as World Series favorites by several sportsbooks at the start of the season and continue to hold the frontrunners position. Chicago has already locked up the National League Central as the Cubs are closing in on a 100-win season. The question that still remains is whether the Cubbies can shake the World Series curse that has prevented them from winning a title since 1908.
Bovada have a +250 line set that the Cubs will in fact win it all, however that will depend on Chicago’s starting rotation.
Jake Arrieta, after a sizzling start to the season, has come back down to earth and will need to regain the form that earned him the Cy Young in 2015 in order for the Cubs to go all the way. John Lackey and Jon Lester both bring a wealth of post-season experience and will also be relied on come October.
Boston Red Sox (+500)
David Ortiz — the 20-year veteran slugger, who in spring training announced the 2016 campaign would be his swan song – has been unquestionably one of MLB’s stories of the season.
What a finale it’s been to this point for Ortiz, who has hammered 36 home runs and is hitting .318. Big Papi would like to ride off into the sunset as a World Series champ and we don’t put it past him.
Mix in an MVP-worthy season from star outfielder Mookie Betts and yet another brilliant performance from second baseman Dustin Pedroia and the Red Sox have pieced together what looks like a championship-caliber team. Boston continues to edge closer to the Cubs as favorites. Bovada now has a +500 line the Red Sox will win the World Series.
Washington Nationals (+600)
The Nats are running away with the National League East crown and continue to be among the World Series favorites down the stretch. Bovada has a +600 line the Nationals will win it all — a bet worth considering as Washington boasts a strong pitching core, featuring Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer.
Strasburg has battled an elbow injury this season and will need to be 100 percent come playoff time if the Nationals stand any chance. The right-hander, with a 15-4 record and 183 strikeouts, has been brilliant when he’s been on the mound this year.
Bryce Harper, one of the best players in the major leagues, must also pick up his offensive numbers in October after a trying season at the plate.
Toronto Blue Jays (+1400)
While another division crown now seems out of reach, the Toronto Blue Jays are almost sure to be an American League wild-card team. Once considered an early season World Series favorite, the Blue Jays have since slipped to +1400 according to Bovada.
That is a bargain line for a team that boasts the 2015 MVP Josh Donaldson as well as sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. Donaldson isn’t playing well, many pundits blaming his injury concerns. Inconsistency at the plate has plagued the Blue Jays lately and that will have to be remedied for Canada’s team to have a chance at another World Series crown.
The offensive numbers should be there come playoff time, but it’s the Blue Jays’ suspect rotation that is the main concern heading into the Fall Classic. J.A. Happ has been Toronto’s best pitcher after racking up a 20-win season. However Marcus Stroman and Marco Estrada — once Toronto’s top two pitchers — have produced sub-par seasons and will need to be much better.
World Series Pick: Boston Red Sox (+550)
National League Champion: Chicago Cubs