MLB Playoffs Betting Guide: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for Monday’s ALDS, NLDS Action
David Berding, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jason Castro, Jake Odorizzi
Welcome to Manic Monday.
All four MLB playoff series are in action today and each matchup is an elimination game.
The Rays and Astros kick things off at 1:05 p.m. ET. The Rays will turn to their ace, Charlie Morton, to keep their season alive against his former team. The Astros will counter with Zack Greinke, making his Houston playoff debut as a -135 favorite over Tampa.
Atlanta scored three runs in the ninth inning to come back and defeat the Cardinals, 3-1, in Game 3. Rookie hurler Dakota Hudson will toe the rubber for St. Louis, while Dallas Keuchel will make his second start this series for Atlanta, this time as a +115 underdog.
After falling apart in Game 3, the Nationals have the luxury of putting their postseason hopes in the hands of Max Scherzer. ‘Mad’ Max and the Nationals are -135 against Rich Hill and the Dodgers.
Bettors are expecting Luis Severino and the Yankees to close out their series with the Twins, as the Bombers have moved to -150 after opening at -136. At the time of writing, 66% of the bets are on New York.
Our baseball staffers share their favorite betting strategies for Monday’s action:
Odds as of Monday at 11:30 a.m. ET and via PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).
Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays Odds
Zack Greinke (18-5, 2.93 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (16-6, 3.05 ERA)
- Astros Moneyline: -135
- Home Moneyline: +115
- Over/Under: 7.5
- First pitch: 1:05 p.m. ET
The Rays are the most profitable home underdog in our database, with a 181-188 record (49.1%), generating a consistent $100 bettor +$3,710 (10.1% ROI). Over the past three seasons, the Rays are 41-28 (59.4%, +$2,344) as a home underdog – suitable for a 34% return on investment.
In Monday’s elimination game, they show tremendous line value while using a starting pitcher with ice water running through his veins.
After winning Wednesday’s AL Wild Card game, Charlie Morton became the first pitcher to win three winner-take-all elimination games – having previously won Game 7’s in both the 2017 ALCS and World Series for the Astros.
He has been an under the radar ace for three years running and ranked behind only Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, and Gerrit Cole in FIP this season.
I projected the Rays as a -120 favorite in this game, an implied win probability over 54%, and I backed Tampa Bay both in the first five innings and over the full game to avoid the three-game sweep at home.
Their listed odds at +115 implies a winning percentage of 45.2%, meaning that I see a gap of nearly 10% between my projection and what the market says the Rays chances are in Game 3.
Hopefully, the Rays can avoid the silly mistakes that plagued them in the first two games of this series.
The Pick: Tampa Bay Rays +115
New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins Odds
- Yankees odds: -150
- Twins odds: +130
- Over/Under: 9
- Time: 8:40 p.m. ET
- TV: FS1
In Game 2, the Yankees-Twins total closed 9. The over cashed as the teams combined for 10 runs.
Recreational bettors are influenced by what they last saw. More than 70% of tickets are on the Over in Game 3. Oddsmakers anticipate this reaction and tend to inflate the lines making it easier for the under to hit.
Since 2005, if the over hit in the previous game of a playoff series the under went 88-74-11 (54%) in the next game. The under performs even better in high-total games:
- Total of 7 or more: 82-65-11 (56%)
- Total of 8 or more:46-34-6 (58%)
- Total of 9 or more: 24-11-3 (69%)
Bettors are expecting a lot of runs in Game 3 but history suggests they’ll be disappointed.
The Pick: Under 9
It’s been a rough postseason for contrarian bettors. So far, teams generating less than 50% of public bets have gone 3-9, good for a -42% return on investment. Ouch.
Still, this trend has been wildly popular long term, posting a 245-221 record and a +12% ROI. Fading the public works during the postseason, so there’s no reason to stop just because of a minor speed bump.
This trend is at its best when you can also employ it with home teams. Home teams generating less than 50% of the betting tickets have historically posted a 111-69 record, good for a +20.3% ROI. The Rays, Cardinals, and Twins all fit that system today, which could make this a great spot to double down on fading the public.
I think all three of those teams make for excellent bets, but I’ll plant my flag in the Twins. Luis Severino is still a big question mark at the current time given that he’s made just three starts and has yet to throw more than 80 pitches in a game. The Yankees obviously have an excellent bullpen, but the Twins offense is capable of going off vs. anyone.
The Pick: Minnesota Twins +134