The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox just finished the regular season with a four-game series in Fenway Park. Starting Thursday night in Houston, they will be matched in a best-of-five series with much bigger stakes.
That the MLB odds on this AL Division Series have the Astros at -165 speaks volumes about how far they have come since their 2015 post-season appearance — a wildcard game upset of the New York Yankees, followed by a 3-2 ALDS loss to the eventual AL champion Kansas City Royals.
From a nice little story about a sabermetrically driven franchise that rebuilt from three consecutive 100-plus-loss seasons (2011-13), the Astros have become a powerhouse offensive team that added to a $136-million-and-climbing payroll for what they hope will be the final piece in a championship run — Justin Verlander.
They finished with 101 victories, and in this season of streaking elite-level teams, led the way with an 11-game run that left them with a 42-16 record on June 5. They reached 60-29 at the break, and after Verlander’s arrival, went on a 20-8 run that included winning streaks of seven, six and five games.
Tony DeMarco of FanRagSports contributed to this article.