In this article, we’ll provide you with our top Game 1 and Game 2 betting picks for Friday night’s loaded slate of MLB Playoff games. The two Game 1 matchups see the Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees. Whilst, Game 2 sees the St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves, and Washington Nationals at Los Angeles Dodgers. All are sure to be exciting! We study the odds, betting lines teams and players to give you our recommended baseball betting picks to beat the New Jersey sportsbooks.
Game 1: Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros (ML: -220) – O/U: 7
Game 1 Betting Pick: Astros (1.5-run line: -105)
Friday, October 4th, 2019 – 2:05 p.m. EST
TB: Tyler Glasnow – R (6-1, 1.78 ERA/0.89 WHIP)
HOU: Justin Verlander – R (21-6, 2.58 ERA/0.80 WHIP)
Surprisingly, the Tampa Bay Rays owned a 4-3 advantage over the Houston Astros during the regular season, while four of the seven games went under the total – all of the unders were during a four-game series in Tampa Bay, all of the overs came in a three-game series in Houston. Our top pick is for the Astros to cover the run-line. Let’s dive into the facts and figures below to learn why this is our top betting pick.
Game 1 Betting Lines Analysis: Rays at Astros
Early on, the Astros have received 77 percent of all public bets on the moneyline while the Rays have gotten 52 percent of all money wagered. In addition, the public bets are split 50/50 on the total while 78 percent of all money wagered is on the over.
Rays Betting Form
Tyler Glasnow returned to the Rays just in time before the end of the regular season to get some work in. Thankfully he did because it reminded us of how dominating he can be when everything is clicking. In 12 1/3 innings over four outings in the month of September, Glasnow accumulated a 1.46 ERA and 0.83 WHIP – in his last three appearances, no runs were allowed.
Just as we saw this season, and in the AL Wild Card Game, Tampa’s bullpen is absolutely fantastic. This unit ranked first or second in nearly every traditional category for bullpen pitching this season, and they’ll certainly need every single arm to deal with this potent Astros’ lineup.
As for the bats, this could be a sneaky-good spot against a pitcher (albeit a future Hall-of-Famer) that allowed 36 homers during the regular season. Teams aren’t going to score a lot of runs against the Astros in the postseason, so they better make it count with the long-ball.
Astros Betting Form
Justin Verlander has allowed a ton of homers this season, but this is still a guy that only coughed up three runs or more in three of his 15 starts since the All-Star break. It sounds absolutely crazy to even question how Verlander would fare against the Rays, considering he absolutely dominated them during the regular season.
The Astros’ bullpen probably won’t be needed much in this game, but it’s a nice parachute to have in case anything does go wrong with Verlander. Houston’s bullpen ranked second in ERA (3.75) to only… you guessed it, Tampa Bay.
It’s not even a question of who has the best top-to-bottom lineup in baseball – it’s the Astros. This is going to be a fantastic matchup all series long, with the wide array of arms in the Rays’ bullpen and the limited innings we’ll likely see the starters for. At the end of the series, Houston’s lineup will probably be the reason why the series is won.
Game 1 Betting Pick: Astros (1.5-run line: -105)
While the Rays have some great arms coming out of the bullpen, it’s going to be incredibly tough dealing with a well-rounded team like the Astros. Tampa Bay might end up grabbing a game in this series, but it won’t be Game 1. Verlander and the rest of Houston’s roster have plenty of experience, so look for them to show the opposition how it’s done.
Game 1: Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees (ML: -190) – O/U: 8.5
Betting Pick: Yankees 1.5-run line (+105)
Friday, October 4th, 2019 – 7:07 p.m. EST
MIN: Jose Berrios – R (14-8, 3.68 ERA/1.22 WHIP)
NYY: James Paxton – L (15-6, 3.82 ERA/1.28 WHIP)
The Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees know each other quite well from all of their past postseason matchups. They played one of the craziest games of the season back on July 23, with the Yanks winning 14-12 — New York also won the season series 4-2. One of our top betting picks is for the Yankees to cover the run-line against the Twins in Game 1 of the AL Divisional Series. Let’s dive into the numbers and see why we’re heading in that direction.
Game 1 Betting Lines Analysis: Twins at Yankees
We’ve seen an even 50/50 mix of public bets while 63 percent of all money wagered has gone to the Yankees. In addition, the over has gotten plenty of love, with 74 percent of public bets/83 percent of money wagered going in that direction.
Twins Betting Form
Jose Berrios has not been the shutdown pitcher the Twins had hoped he’d be this season, but they’ll have to take what they can get. The electric righty is still one of the best pitchers in baseball. However, once we get to the postseason, any little mistake can bury a team. Berrios had the worst two ERAs of his season in August and September, so it’s possible that arm fatigue could be setting in. That’s not a good sign, especially going against a powerful lineup in an extreme hitter’s park.
Minnesota’s bullpen was surprisingly good this season, ranking 10th-best in ERA (4.17). While they have certainly outperformed expectations during the regular season, you have to wonder how they’ll perform under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium at postseason time.
The Twins’ offense ranked first or second in most advanced metrics against left-handed pitching this season. It these guys have a shot at winning this game, it’s probably going to come early against Paxton. Minnesota will need to get some runs on the board before New York’s bullpen gets involved in the game.
Yankees Betting Form
Since the calendar flipped to August, the Yankees have not lost a single game that James Paxton has started. Reason being, the veteran left-hander has only allowed two runs or fewer in nine of those 11 outings over the last two months. Paxton only pitched once against the Twins this season, but that outing was cut short due to an injury and we can’t take much from that.
New York’s bullpen, with more household names, ranked just below Minnesota in ERA, coming in ninth at 4.08. Although the numbers don’t show it, this really is one of the best units in all of baseball, making the Yankees a solid bet because of it.
The Yanks didn’t face Berrios this season but do own top-three numbers in a lot of advanced metrics against right-handed pitching. Granted, Berrios is an above-average pitcher, but this lineup has plenty of pop and the ability to get the long-ball working.
Game 1 Betting Pick: Yankees 1.5-run line (+105)
The Yanks need Paxton and his 10-0 record and 2.51 ERA over the last two months to stay in peak form now that we’re in October. We believe the same Paxton will show up in this game and keep it at a distance while the offense goes to work. Not to mention, bettors will get better odds on the run-line as opposed to laying more on the moneyline.
Game 2: St. Louis Cardinals (ML: -122) at Atlanta Braves – O/U: 8.5
Betting Pick: Cardinals (ML: -122)
Thursday, October 3rd, 2019 – 8:37 p.m. EST
STL: Jack Flaherty – R (11-8, 2.75 ERA/0.97 WHIP)
ATL: Mike Foltynewicz – R (8-6, 4.54 ERA/1.25 WHIP)
The St. Louis Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the NL Divisional Series against the Atlanta Braves yesterday. After trailing 3-1 in the top of the eighth inning, the Cardinals turned up the heat by scoring two runs in that frame and then four in the top of the ninth. The Braves wouldn’t go silently, though, scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth and coming up just short of the victory. Based on the starting pitching, we like the Cardinals to win over the Braves once again as one of our top picks. Let’s dive into the numbers and see why.
Game 2 Betting Lines Analysis: Cardinals at Braves
We’ve seen the Braves get 67 percent of public bets, but it’s been close to a 50/50 split in terms of all money wagered. In addition, the over is getting love here, with 62 percent of public bets/69 percent of all money wagered heading in that direction.
Cardinals Betting Form
It’s very interesting that the Cardinals are favored once again, giving us an indication that there’s solid reasoning as to why. As we saw from the numbers above, a lot of people have jumped on the Braves blindly, believing they’ll even the series just because they’re the home team – that could be a huge mistake.
Jack Flaherty was simply magnificent after the All-Star break, posting a 7-2 record and an unbelievable 0.91 ERA/0.72 WHIP in 15 starts. He’s the best starter on the Cards’ stuff, and it’s somewhat puzzling why they left him off the mound in Game 1. After all, Flaherty did have a solid two starts against the Braves during the regular season, allowing only three runs over 12 innings while striking out 13 batters.
Aside from Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals’ pen performed well in Game 1. They might not be needed much with Flaherty on the mound, so look for guys like Andrew Miller and Daniel Hudson to be used in these tight spots.
While the offense scored seven runs, it wasn’t exactly pretty. St. Louis did have a lot of ball-luck in its winning ways during Game 1, but we’re not expecting this team to need it again. Atlanta’s bullpen is the biggest weakness and they should be used quite a bit in this one.
Braves Betting Form
Upon returning from a demotion to the minor leagues, Mike Foltynewicz was great in his return to the Braves’ rotation over the last two months of the season. Over that span, he posted a 6-1 record to go along with a 2.65 ERA in 10 starts. Folty did not fare well against the Cardinals this season, although neither of those outings came in his post-All-Star break form. Nonetheless, he allowed 12 hits (3 HR), three walks and nine runs (eight earned) over a span of 10 2/3 innings.
Atlanta’s bullpen had a terrible bout of luck in Game 1 after Chris Martin was injured during warmups. Luke Jackson had to come in after that, without going through his proper routine and ended up costing his team the lead eventually. Mark Melancon wasn’t able to do much either, totally putting the game out of reach for the Braves.
It was a good sign for the offense to come up in certain spots, with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman homering in the ninth inning. The other half of Atlanta’s runs came because of walks and terrible defense from St. Louis. Nonetheless, this is going to be a long day for the Braves’ bats against Flaherty.
Game 2 Betting Pick: Cardinals (ML: -122)
We’re all huge believers in Flaherty and he’ll be the reason that St. Louis heads back home with a 2-0 lead. The Cardinals’ defense wasn’t great in Game 1 and that let their opponents get a couple more runs than they should have. Expect the fundamentals to be back in order and, of course, Flaherty to completely shut down the Braves’ lineup.
Game 2: Washington Nationals at Los Angeles Dodgers
Betting Pick: Nationals +130
Friday, October 4th, 2019 – 9:37 p.m. EST
WSH: Stephen Strasburg – R (18-6, 3.32 ERA/1.04 WHIP)
LAD: Clayton Kershaw – L (16-5, 3.03 ERA/1.04 WHIP)
The Los Angeles Dodgers took Game 1 of the NL Divisional Series over the Washington Nationals by the score of 6-0. Two of the better pitchers in baseball take the mound in this one, but there’s a key factor why we believe the Nationals will defeat the Dodgers. Let’s dive into the facts and figures to see why this is one of our top betting picks.
Nationals Betting Form
Stephen Strasburg ended up pitching three innings of scoreless ball in the NL Wild Card Game, keeping the Brewers at bay before his Nationals team took the lead. Over the course of his career, Strasburg has been a very good pitcher on the road with a 67 percent winning percentage and 3.24 ERA/1.14 WHIP in 115 starts. This season against the Dodgers, he went 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA/0.61 WHIP with 16 strikeouts over a course of 13 innings.
The Nats’ bullpen showed their true colors once again in Game 1, and this is going to be a real problem for the rest of the series if they’re needed on the same level. Of the six runs scored, the bullpen allowed six of them. Look for Strasburg to take this game into the seventh, hopefully, and minimize the innings they come in for.
This might actually be a sneaky spot for the Washington bats with a left-handed pitcher on the mound. While the numbers were pretty similar against both hands of pitcher during the regular season, the advanced metrics showed a slightly better advantage versus lefties. Look for them to make this game interesting, and possibly even win the damn thing.
Dodgers Betting Form
Clayton Kershaw was outstanding for most of this season, but he did slow down a bit down the stretch. The lanky lefty allowed a total of 14 homers over the last two months of the season – a span of 61 1/3 innings. Also, we need to remember that Kershaw has his fair share of postseason struggles – his career 4.32 ERA in the second season is certainly not who we know this guy to be during the regular season.
This isn’t a total pile of dirt being dumped on Kershaw, though, as he does have a 10-2 record and 2.89 ERA at Dodger Stadium in 16 starts this season. Not to mention, a 13-3 lifetime record and 2.65 ERA/0.99 WHIP in 18 career starts against the Nationals. In only one matchup against Washington this season, Kershaw allowed two runs in six innings while striking out nine batters.
The Dodgers’ bullpen only allowed one hit in three innings of work. There’s not much else we can say about this unit – they’re one of the best in the business.
Strasburg has looked great of late and this could be a very tough spot for the Dodgers. Sure, everyone will remember all the homers they pounded late last night, but that’s not going to happen unless the Nats’ bullpen gets their hands on the ball. If that happens, though, it could be too late.
Game 2 Betting Pick: Nationals +130
The Nationals have much better odds for Game 2 and we feel like that is quite indicative of what a solid matchup this is. Look for the bats to finally get going and give Strasburg an early lead that he can control throughout.