It all comes down to this. We’re down to just three days left in the MLB regular season, and 28 teams will be in action Monday night. There isn’t a ton of drama left in the playoff race, but there are still a few things up for grabs.
The Pick: Nationals ML (+255)
The Mets are coming off a disastrous series vs. the Braves, losing all three games at the hands of their division rival. That has essentially eliminated all hope of the Mets winning the division. The Braves' magic number sits at one, so they would need to lose out for the Mets to have any shot of winning the NL East.
That said, the Mets are still locked into the Wild Card spot, and they need to start focusing on that. They used all of their primary relievers in Sunday’s contest — some of them for multiple innings — so it would not be a shock if they all got the night off on Monday.
Additionally, manager Buck Showalter could look to get some rest for Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor. Both players have played in 158 of a possible 159 games this season, so they have been two of the busiest players in baseball. Both have looked tired at times down the stretch, so don’t be surprised if they’re out of the lineup on Monday.
With that in mind, I’m expecting to see the C version of the Mets in what is essentially a meaningless contest vs. the Nationals. The C version of the Mets clearly doesn’t deserve to be favored by this much, so the Nationals stand out as one of the best values of the day.
The Pick: Giants ML (+200)
Like the Mets, the Padres have also secured a playoff spot. They could still finish as either the No. 2 or No. 3 Wild Card team, but that doesn’t matter all that much. They’re not going to get a home game in the Wild Card round regardless, and there isn’t a huge difference between playing the Mets and playing the Cardinals.
The team is expected to start Joe Musgrove in this contest, which means he would not be available to start Game 1 of the Wild Card. That’s not a huge deal — they can start him on normal rest in Game 2 or 3 — but I’d still expect them to take it pretty easy on their right-hander. They’re undoubtedly going to want him available in the next series, so it doesn’t make sense to push him too hard vs. the Giants.
Meanwhile, the Giants will opt for a bullpen game, with John Brebbia getting the ball first. The Giants have been pretty good regardless of who is starting for them recently, going 19-11 since the start of September. That puts them back over .500 for the year, and while they have no chance of making the postseason, finishing above .500 is something the team will want to accomplish.
Overall, they’re another team that seems pretty massively underpriced on Monday.
The Pick: Phillies ML (+100)
The Phillies currently hold the No. 3 spot in the NL Wild Card standings, but unlike the Mets and Padres, their job is not yet done. They hold just a one-game lead over the Brewers, so the final series of the year is very important to them.
Fortunately, they’ll have Aaron Nola on the bump on Monday. His 3.36 ERA this season doesn’t scream “elite starter,” but his advanced metrics are extremely impressive. He’s striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings, and his FIP sits at 2.66. The Phillies’ defense has been a major issue this year, but Nola has arguably been as good as he’s ever been.
He’ll face a tough task Monday vs. the Astros, but we might not see the best version of Houston in this spot. They’ve already secured the top spot in the American League, and they have no chance of catching the Dodgers for the best record overall. They’ll have a first-round bye to rest their players and set up their rotation, but it still seems unlikely they’ll give this game their full attention.
I don’t typically buy into motivation narratives — I pretty much assume all professional athletes want to win all the time — but the Phillies clearly have the edge in that department on Monday. I’ll take my chances with them as small underdogs.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
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