Cover Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

After a long layover, the Houston Astros will finally begin their title defense Friday afternoon when they take on the Cleveland Indians. Like their opponent, the Indians are no stranger to the postseason and were just one out away from a World Series title of their own two years ago. Both teams are clearly used to the live-or-die nature of the MLB postseason, which should make this a fun series to watch.

Series Info/Starting Pitchers: Cleveland Indians (91-71) vs. Houston Astros (103-59)

  • Game 1: Friday, Oct. 5, 2:05 p.m. EST: CLE (Corey Kluber) @ HOU (Justin Verlander)
  • Game 2: Saturday, Oct. 6, 4:37 p.m. EST: CLE (Carlos Carrasco) @ HOU (Gerrit Cole)
  • Game 3: Monday, Oct. 8, TBD: HOU (Dallas Keuchel) @ CLE (Mike Clevinger)
  • Game 4: Tuesday, Oct. 9, TBD: HOU (TBD) @ CLE (TBD) *if necessary
  • Game 5: Thursday, Oct. 11, TBD: CLE (TBD) @ HOU (TBD) *if necessary

Odds: It makes sense that the defending World Series champs are favored to take the series, not only because they're defending their title, but because they're coming into October as hot as they come (8-2 in their last 10 games). While the odds may not be in their favor, it's hard to sleep on this battle-tested Indians ball club.

Interesting Stat: Finishing the season with 103 wins is no small feat, but what's impressive about that total is that the Astros won 57 of those games on the road. As long as Houston can hold serve through the first two games of the series, there's a good chance that it ends with the Astros whipping out the brooms in Cleveland.

Best Prop Bet: Cleveland Indians Win Game 1 by 4+ Runs (+650)
A Cleveland win by three to four runs would a pretty safe bet to make against a normal team, considering they scored the third-most runs in baseball, but this Astros ball club is anything but. Houston's 534 runs surrendered was the best in baseball this year and 76 less than the Dodgers, who surrendered the second least in the Majors. The Indians could steal Game 1 in Houston, but it's unlikely that their margin of victory will be more than four.

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Mike Esposito is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Esposito also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username espo6891. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.