The 2021 MLB playoffs are starting to get real. The American League Championship Series has already been set, and we're in for a winner-take-all Game 5 between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. You can actually sense the World Series stakes.
Our latest batch of MLB playoff picks 2021 will cover the Red Sox-Astros ALCS and Dodgers-Giants predictions to close out the NLDS. Let's begin, as always, by checking out the latest MLB betting odds, courtesy of BetOnline:
|Boston Red Sox
|Los Angeles Dodgers
Make sure to confirm these MLB odds before deciding on your MLB picks. The lines will continuously move at BetOnline and other top online sportsbooks.
Latest 2021 MLB Playoff Predictions
These updated MLB playoff picks will begin with Dodgers-Giants Game 5, since that'll be taking place before the ALCS starts.
Remember: While Los Angeles-San Francisco is technically a single-game prediction, we are also choosing who will face the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series.
San Francisco Giants (-115) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (-100)
Talk about a nail-biting series. Granted, we didn't expect anything less. The Giants and Dodgers might just be the two best teams in baseball, although the Houston Astros will certainly want a say in that discussion. This series was always meant to be a classic, especially after the injury to Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
Brandon Webb will be taking the mound for the Giants in Game 5. San Francisco has to be feeling good about that. Webb pitched a borderline gem in Game 1, striking out a season-high 10 batters and limiting Los Angeles' offense to five hits in seven-and-two-thirds shutout innings. Though his speed won't typically scare batters, he has a nasty change-up and slider. The Giants usually don't lose when he has both of those pitches going.
Of course, the Dodgers offense is always a threat to go off. That said, they've been hot and cold all series; there is very little balance. To wit: They have been shutout in two of the first four games and then combined for 16 runs through their two victories. It's maddening. Los Angeles' barometer for success most likely lies with Trea Turner and Justin Turner. The two stars have been uncharacteristically quiet all series, and both are built to capitalize on change-of-pace pitchers like Webb. If they go off, the Dodgers may waltz to victory.
None of which gives us an especially strong inkling either way. This series has been tough to interpret, largely because of the wild swings of Los Angeles' offense. Our gut tells us the Giants won't have the offensive juice to get this upset done. (The Dodgers were favorites entering the series.) They are absent offensive stars and have only totaled nine runs all series.
Then again, the Dodgers have largely kept the Giants in check by relying on their bullpen. Reserve star Kenley Johnson has already relied upon twice this postseason. Could they give him the ball too early in Game 5? Is he overdue for a bad outing? In the end, we distrust the Dodgers' offense more than we do the Giants' lack of star power. San Francisco should be able to complete the series upset.
OSB Prediction: San Francisco Giants (-115)
Houston Astros (-150) vs. Boston Red Sox ('+130)
What a matchup this is shaping up to be.
The Astros and Red Sox sport perhaps the two highest-powered offenses in major league baseball. Both teams ranked in the top three of slugging percentage and on-base percentage during the regular season, which is simply ridiculous.
Some worried that the Red Sox offense wouldn't be playoff-proof. So much for that. After getting shutout in Game 1 of the ALDS, they proceeded to rattle off three straight victories while tallying 26 runs. The Astros were just as explosive in their own 3-1 ALDS series win. They notched 31 runs through four games and never scored below six in a single contest.
With the offenses relatively even, this head-to-head may come down to pitching. That doesn't come as welcome news for the Red Sox. Their pitching staff turned in a below-average ERA during the regular season and ranked in the bottom five of hits allowed per nine innings. To their credit, they did a better job than most at limiting home runs over the course of a game, but Houston doesn't need to hit the long ball to blow out opponents. Their offense is multifaceted.
To that end, we don't have much of a choice here. The Astros have a legitimately elite pitching core, led by Lance McCullers Jr., who allowed just one run during 10-plus innings of action during the ALDS. Not every other starter is as talented or overwhelming, but what Houston's starting rotation lacks in marquee names after McCullers Jr., it makes up for with one of the stingiest and proven bullpens in the league.
OSB Prediction: Houston Astros (-150)
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