Wipe that slate clean. Well, don’t wipe too fast. We did finish 76-64 on article plays during the regular season, but now it’s time for some Wild Card action. Playoff baseball is back and we’ve got four great matchups starting at noon ET on Friday. What more could you ask for?
Winners. You could ask for winners. Let’s dive into my favorite bets.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
You’re more than welcome to just take the Phillies to win the series (+115), but if you’re confident in Philadelphia moving on to the Divisional Round, it’s likely you feel that way because of two people: Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Guess what? Neither of those two starters is going to have much impact if this series does go to a Game 3, so let’s go for that extra juice.
Both RHPs have been phenomenal down the stretch of the season, with Nola owning a 1.95 FIP in the 34.1 innings he’s thrown since September 1 and Wheeler allowing only a single earned run in the 15.0 innings he’s tossed since coming off a late-season IL stint. On a neutral field, both Nola and Wheeler would be heavy favorites in their matchups with Miles Mikolas and Jose Quintana, respectively. Heck, Wheeler is basically a pick’em in Game 1 on the DraftKings Sportsbook even when factoring in home field advantage. I think it’s also worth noting that while the Cardinals won 63.2% of their games against divisional opponents in 2022, the team was an underwhelming 45-41 when playing outside the NL Central. The Phillies are not the Cubs, the Pirates or the Reds.
Wild Card Specials
No team had a winning record on the road in the playoffs in 2021, which started when both the Yankees and the Cardinals dropped their respective Wild Card games. That’s a daunting stat to think about, because for this prop to hit, we’d need at least one series underdog to take two contests away from home.
Well, unless you’re a St. Louis fan and skipped my first bet, you know I think the Phillies are that team. Suddenly, we only need three victories from the Padres, Mariners and Rays. That’s pretty good news considering Seattle racked up the eighth-most road wins during the regular season (44), Tampa Bay is one of the most successful playoff teams of the past decade and the Padres are stacked with talent from years of explosive A.J. Preller trades. I mean, the Rays are only +105 underdogs in their series line at the moment. We’re not exactly talking about David versus Goliath upsets here. I really wouldn’t be shocked if two lower seeds are playing in the Divisional Round next week.
While I will admit that this is the series I most expect to go three games, there’s no chance these two teams combine to score 16 runs if there isn’t a Game 3. Even then, I’m not so sure. Let’s review what we know about the Guardians and the Rays. First and foremost, pitching is king with these two organizations. In fact, by ERA, Tampa and Cleveland come into this matchup ranking fourth (3.41) and sixth (3.47), respectively. By bullpen ERA, the Guardians sit fifth (3.05) and the Rays sit seventh (3.36). That’s not just a reflection of talent level, either. Kevin Cash and Terry Francona are wizards when it comes to understanding how and when to use relievers — a job that is certainly easier when said RPs are following Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen or Tyler Glasnow.
Plus, for all the star power taking the mound, there are some offensive limitations in both these lineups. Tampa and Cleveland each finished 2022 hovering around league-average run production — the Rays registered a 101 wRC+ and the Guardians wound up with a 99 wRC+ — and neither roster possesses much pop. In fact, these two teams rank towards the bottom of baseball in ISO, with Cleveland’s mark of .129 being the second-lowest figure in MLB. Simply put, the Guardians and the Rays will need to string multiple hits together for big innings, which is very difficult to do in October.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and I may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.