The MLB playoffs really kick into high gear today with four games all staggered by 2-3 hours, and there are plenty of betting angles to look at to make this baseball Friday that much more interesting. The fun starts with Cleveland at Houston in a match up of true aces.
Indians (+138) at Astros (-156) Total: 6.5 – TBS 2:05 ET
Corey Kluber facing off against Justin Verlander is a beautiful way to start off this four-game Friday. These are two of the top 10 starting pitchers in baseball, true aces who have 175 combined innings of playoff experience. It seems obvious now after reading Joe Osborne’s Tweet (great gambling Twitter follow @JTFOz), but UNDER 3.5 runs in the first 5 innings seems like a great play:
As for the side, I can’t help but like the Indians plus the money. I don’t think there’s any angle to look at between Verlander and Kluber other than the fact that Cleveland used to own Verlander when he was a Tiger. I don’t expect that history to play out again, but does help to feel just a little more confident taking the underdog here.
If this game turns into a battle of the bullpens, one would think that the Astros have the advantage, but Terry Francona has a new secret bullpen weapon named Trevor Bauer, and I’m sure he can’t wait to get into a game and help close it down. With Brad Hand and Andrew Miller, I think that’s enough firepower to pull out a close game.
This feels like a coin flip game, so give me the plus money.
The Pick: Indians +138
Rockies (+142) at Brewers (-164) Total: 8 – FS1 4:15 ET
It’s hard for me as a Cubs fan to watch the Brewers in the playoffs, but I’m betting on them today. Maybe it was just the Cubs ineptitude but Jhoulys Chacin actually looked pretty effective starting in game 163 for the division title. On the season in 192 innings his FIP was a respectable 4.03, although his xFIP (4.47) and his SIERA (4.59) make him look like an average pitcher at best.
However, in the second half Chacin started to put it together. In the first half Chacin had a tragic K/BB of 1.87 but was able to post a respectable 2.83 mark in the second half. Chacin’s K-BB% also went from 8.4 to 14.2 percent.
Meanwhile the Rockies are sending out Tyler Anderson, and I’ll let our friend Joe take over again for this one:
I’ve never played individual team totals, and I’m not sure that I love that one, but I do enjoy how the Brewers beat up on Mr. Anderson the last time they faced him. I’ll take the better team and better pitcher at home.
The Pick: Brewers -164
Yankees (+150) at Red Sox (-175) Total: 7.5 – TBS 7:32 ET
Here’s the handicap for this one: Chris Sale -175. There are some concerns with the Red Sox faring much better against RHP’s but I’m throwing those splits out the window. JA Happ has had a nice season, and this game could be close enough to make me sweat, but give me Chris Sale and this offense for anything under -200.
The Pick: Red Sox -175
Braves (+195) at Dodgers (-230) Total: FS1 9:37 ET
Clayton Kershaw, often snake-bit in the playoffs, headlines the late night game in LA. Clayton, thanks for the memories but you’re no longer the best pitcher in baseball, and probably not even in the top 5.
Dare I say he’s not a top 10 pitcher?
Well he’s clearly not a top 10 pitcher on a season long basis now that the “Injury Prone” label has been branded on his ass. On a per start basis though Kershaw did rank #7 in ERA for pitchers that threw at least 160 IP at 2.73. However, that number goes up to 3.19 in both FIP and xFIP where he ranked 12th and 13th overall.
Clearly still very good, still an ace, but not quite elite.
Time for more Joe Osborne (seriously, follow this guy on Twitter):
Enter Kershaw’s opponent on the mound, the one and only Anibal Sanchez. If I told you Anibal had a 2.83 ERA this year with nearly a K per inning in 136 IP you’d think we’d gone back in time to 2013 when Sanchez was putting up a 2.39 FIP for the Tigers. While Sanchez is still slightly smoke and mirrors this year with his FIP at 3.62, xFIP at 3.81 and SIERA at 3.85, those are still good numbers.
This game is being priced like it’s the 2016 version of these pitchers, and that +195 is too juicy to pass up. The Atlanta offense can do damage vs lefties, putting up a wRC+ of 107 compared to 93 vs righties. I like them to even up this series, and love it at nearly double your money.
The Pick: Braves +195