With the divisional round of the 2013 MLB playoffs coming to an exciting end, it's time to update the odds for each team in the American League and National League Championship Series.
Nearly all of the Las Vegas favorites advanced to the next round (odds via VegasInsider.com), with the one notable difference being the 6-1 favorite Pittsburgh Pirates falling to the 12-1 St. Louis Cardinals. One series is yet to be decided, with the Oakland Athletics hosting the Detroit Tigers at 8:07 p.m. Thursday on TBS, so both teams will be broken down leading up to their Game 5 showdown.
5. Oakland Athletics (3-1)
OK, the A's have proven they are contenders and it's pretty clear that if anyone on their pitching staff has the stuff to outduel the hard-throwing Justin Verlander, it's Sonny Gray. But it would be foolish to think that the A's rookie might not crumble under the pressure or that Verlander won't step up to the task again.
If Oakland does advance—which it has done only once in six playoff series since 2000—it will have to contend with a Red Sox pitching staff that looked solid against the Tampa Bay Rays, including Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.
With a shaky offense that was weak in the first two games—scoring less than two runs—and broke out in the last two games with six runs in each, Bob Melvin's squad might be the most unpredictable team in the playoffs.
4. Detroit Tigers (3-1)
If these rankings tell you anything, it appears whoever advances between Detroit and Oakland will be walking into an ALCS buzzsaw against the Boston Red Sox.
The Tigers have a really good problem when trying to decide who their ace is this season between 2011 American League MVP Verlander and this year's Cy Young favorite, Max Scherzer—not a bad problem to have.
With Verlander going again Thursday, Scherzer would likely start Game 1 for the Tigers against Lester on Saturday. The Tigers pitching staff and offense behind 2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez and Game 4 hero Austin Jackson appear to be the one thing standing in the way of the Red Sox and another trip to the World Series.
3. St. Louis Cardinals (2-1)
The Cardinals are just one of those teams that always plug away and end up advancing in the playoffs every year—somewhat like the anti-Braves. After winning the most games in the National League, St. Louis showed that gritty mentality when it downed the Pittsburgh Pirates after trailing 2-1 in the series.
Whether it's the pitching staff with ace Adam Wainwright and near no-no rookie Michael Wacha, or the pick-your-poison lineup including Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and postseason breakout star David Freese, the Cardinals look the part.
St. Louis has a storied history in the playoffs that includes runs with many of the same players on this year's roster and has one of the most balanced teams in the playoffs this season. If it weren't for the Dodgers' second-half surge, the Cards would be the favorite in the National League.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (5-8)
This is in no way disrespectful to the Cardinals, but what the Dodgers have done since the All-Star break is simply phenomenal.
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After calling up Cuban rookie sensation Yasiel Puig and the resurgence of Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez, the Dodgers powered their way through the National League and advanced past the Braves thanks to a come-from-behind victory in Game 4.
The one-two punch of Cy Young favorite Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke will have to contain a tough St. Louis lineup, but LA has proven it can win in several different ways and will likely see the Red Sox in Boston for Game 1 of the World Series.
1. Boston Red Sox (5-8)
Boston has been the story of the year in the American League after suffering through its first losing season since 1997 and firing Bobby Valentine in 2012. The Sox not only got back to the playoffs, but finished tied with the Cardinals for the best record in baseball.
After making quick work of the Tampa Bay Rays in four games, Boston will take on either Detroit or Oakland to advance to its first Series since winning it all in 2007.
If both the Red Sox and Dodgers advance to the World Series, it would be a matchup of the two teams that made the biggest trade deadline deal last year, sending Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Gonzalez to Los Angeles to clear up cap space.
While the odds seem to be leaning in this direction, Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated points out that it has been almost 100 years since it has been done:
Keep this one in mind: The Red Sox and Dodgers last met in a World Series in 1916...— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) October 9, 2013