MLB Playoffs 2021: Odds, TV Schedule, Fantasy Predictions for Friday

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistOctober 15, 2021

Houston Astros' Michael Brantley hits a one-run single against the Chicago White Sox in the sixth inning during Game 4 of a baseball American League Division Series Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

The Houston Astros must be viewed as the favorite to win Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. 

Despite dealing with Lance McCullers Jr.'s injury, the Astros are in much better shape than the Boston Red Sox when it comes to their starting rotation.

Houston is sending Framber Valdez to the hill on Friday night to oppose Chris Sale. Valdez struck out 18 Boston batters in back-to-back starts in June. 

Additionally, Valdez had a much better ALDS start than Sale. The left-handed pitcher struck out six and conceded four earned runs over 4.1 innings in Game 2 versus the Chicago White Sox.

Sale should be more susceptible to a large concession. The veteran southpaw was chased after one inning in his ALDS start versus the Tampa Bay Rays. 

Sale's struggles against Tampa Bay should lead you to rostering more Houston players in fantasy contests on Friday night.

Boston's Game 1 starter could improve on his numbers, but until he proves he can, the Astros are the safer bet. 


ALCS Game 1 Info

Date: Friday, October 15

Start Time: 8:07 p.m. ET 

TV: Fox

Live Stream: FoxSports.com and Fox Sports app


Game 1 Odds

Via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Money Line: Houston (-140; bet $140 to win $100); Boston (+120; bet $100 to win $120)

Run Line: Houston (-1.5; +140), Boston (+1.5; -160)

Over/Under: 8.5


Fantasy Predictions

Michael Brantley

Michael Brantley is the most consistent postseason hitter left fighting for a World Series title. 

Brantley has a 15-game postseason hitting streak that dates back to Game 1 of the 2020 ALDS. He reached base safely in one of the two wild-card games last season.

The left-handed batter went 7-for-19 with four RBI in the ALDS against the Chicago White Sox. 

Brantley's ability to get on base could be massive for Houston, especially if its power hitters take advantage of Sale's recent struggles. 

If Jose Altuve and/or Brantley reach base in the first inning, it could set the stage for Alex Bregman or Yordan Alvarez to deliver a multi-run extra-base hit, or homer that puts Houston in the driver's seat early on. 

At minimum, Brantley should be considered for fantasy lineups and in some player prop bets because he is swinging a consistent bat. 

Until Brantley's hitting streak runs out, you should have him at or near the top of the players to trust throughout the ALCS.

Prediction: 2-for-4, two singles, one run


Rafael Devers

Rafael Devers was one of the few Boston hitters had success against Valdez in their two regular-season meetings.

The Boston third baseman picked up two hits off Valdez in the June 2 game at Minute Maid Park.

Valdez allowed a single run in each of his starts against Boston in June. Hunter Renfroe drove in J.D. Martinez on a first-inning single on June 2. Devers scored on a Renfroe groundout in the fourth inning of the June 8 showdown. 

Devers comes into the ALCS as one of Boston's hottest hitters. He had two home runs, six RBI and six hits in the four games against the Tampa Bay Rays. 

If Boston gets to Valdez early in Game 1, Devers could be the reason why thanks to his previous success against the southpaw. 

The Red Sox may not score a ton of runs on Friday, but when they produce runs, expect Devers to be involved in some capacity. 

Prediction: 1-for-3, one run, one walk, one single


Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.


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