With some clubs separating themselves and others desperately playing catch-up, the MLB playoff picture is becoming clearer and oddsmakers are making the necessary adjustments.
Let's take a look at some notable World Series lines as the regular season winds to a conclusion:
The Dodgers - who led the National League West by nine games at the end of May and now lead by 21 - have been waiting for October to roll around for months. To say they're heavy favorites to represent the NL in the World Series is a massive understatement.
Los Angeles is the only team in baseball allowing fewer than four runs per game (3.83). The Dodgers are also top five in home runs, OPS, runs scored, and slugging percentage despite getting unlucky with a BABIP that ranks bottom five in the league. A spot in the World Series looks likely, but L.A. would face a stiff test once they get there ...
Just how good are the Astros? They lead the league in batting WAR, hitting WAR, OPS, and OPS+ (adjusted OPS to factor in ballparks). They're also top three in runs per game and top five in ERA and FIP.
Teams with the highest combined WAR (batting and pitching) have won the World Series in three of the last six seasons, while the Astros won with the second-highest marks in 2017. This year, their combined WAR is 62.9, miles ahead of the Dodgers (50.0) and Yankees (47.2). This is where I'd put my money.
The Nationals are going to be a dangerous team if they get to the postseason. Their lead in the first wild-card spot has slipped from 4 1/2 games to 1 1/2 since the start of September, but there's still a lot to like.
Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Max Scherzer form a nasty one-two-three punch, and even Anibal Sanchez has been pulling his weight over the last month. The hitting has floated around the middle of the pack all season, but since the All-Star break, it ranks top five in both OPS and runs scored. It's no surprise that Washington's World Series odds have been cut down from 40-1 in mid-August.
It's going to take something special to beat the Astros, but is there value with the Rays? They rank second in the majors in team ERA, and they rank first in FIP, suggesting they could be even better. Plus, that's with Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell both missing significant amounts of time.
Now, the Rays are getting healthy at the right time. Snell returned to the mound on Tuesday night, posting two perfect innings at Dodger Stadium with two strikeouts, while Glasnow is rounding into form after being activated from the 60-day IL earlier this month. A rotation of Snell, Glasnow, and Charlie Morton is certainly capable of going toe to toe with the best in the American League.
It's incredible what losing the reigning NL MVP for the season can do for your World Series chances. Oddsmakers aren't giving the Brewers much respect following Christian Yelich's season-ending injury, with their odds dropping as low as 200-1 despite the team being tied for the final wild-card spot and sitting two back of the NL Central lead.
To put things into perspective, the New York Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks are four and 5 1/2 games back of the wild card, respectively, and yet both sit with 80-1 odds of winning the World Series. The Brewers were 30-1 at this time last month, and it's worth noting they've won seven of eight since Yelich went down. But with below league-average hitting and pitching since the All-Star break, it's hard to see them making a run, even if they get into the postseason.
Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.