MLB Odds, Expert Picks, Predictions: 4 Best Bets For Red Sox vs. Astros & Dodgers vs. Braves (October 16)
Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images. Pictured: The Dodgers celebrate their Game 5 NLDS win.
It’s another busy day in baseball with both championship series in action. The Red Sox and Astros play Game 2 of the ALCS at 4:20 p.m. ET, followed by NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves at 8:07 p.m. ET
With two critical playoff games on the slate, we’ve got plenty of bets to recommend. Our analysts have combined to find two angles on each game, including a first five, a team total, a player prop and a full-game total.
Here are our four best bets from Saturday’s MLB postseason slate.
MLB Odds & Picks
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Red Sox First Five
Brad Cunningham: Nathan Eovadli has been the best Red Sox starter this season with a 3.36 xERA, 3.48 xFIP and only a 1.73 BB/9 rate. He pitched really well in the Wild Card Game against the Yankees and then again in Game 3 against the Rays.
The main reason for that is he does a great job mixing his pitches as he has five offerings that he utilizes more than 12% of the time. He’s really effective with his main two off-speed pitches of slider and curveball, as both pitches are allowing an expected batting average under .205 and both have over a 35% whiff rate.
Obviously the Astros’ lineup is incredible against right-handed pitching. They had the best wRC+ at 116 this season, but the main two pitches Houston’s lineup struggles against are sliders and curveballs. They’re 15th against sliders and 23rd against curveballs since the trade deadline, so I think Eovaldi does have decent matchup against one the best lineups in baseball.
On the flip side, Luis Garcia got absolutely shelled by the White Sox in Game 3 of the ALDS, allowing five earned runs before being pulled after only two and two thirds innings. Garcia kind of overperformed this season because his ERA for the regular season was at 3.30, but his expected ERA was up at 3.98.
If you look at his pitch mix, he’s fantastic with his three secondary pitches; hi cutter, slider and changeup all have whiff rates over 39% and are allowing an expected wOBA under .280. But, he’s really struggled with his fastball, which he throws 44.7% of the time. He’s allowing a .295 xBA and .387 xWOBA this season.
Boston’s offense since the trade deadline has been one of the best in baseball, putting up a .346 wOBA and 116 wRC+. Facing the Red Sox offense is a tall task for any opposing pitching staff because Boston does not have any weaknesses from a pitch-mix standpoint.
The Red Sox lineup has a +14.8 run value against fastballs since the trade deadline and the three secondary pitches I mentioned for Garcia, Boston is top 10 against all three pitches with a combined +46.2 run value on the season.
I have Eovaldi and the Red Sox projected at -120 for the first five innings, so I think there is some value on them at -105 or better.
Red Sox Team Total
Collin Whitchurch: I think Boston has a pretty good chance to even the series here, but Houston’s late-game heroics with the bats give me pause on betting the moneyline.
The Red Sox should, regardless, hit Luis Garcia and an Astros bullpen that used up quite a few arms on Friday night. Garcia only made it 2 2/3 innings in his first start against the White Sox, and while he’s been a far better pitcher than that during the regular season, Boston’s offense is clicking right now, and even if Dusty Baker lets Garcia get through four or five innings, it’s unlikely those innings come unscathed.
Both bullpens got emptied on Friday, and Houston had five relievers throw more than 10 pitches. Most will probably still be available, but the effectiveness of an already shaky unit (although it performed spectacularly on Friday) will be less-than stellar.
The Red Sox should have the edge with Nathan Eovaldi on the mound, but I’m too cautious of Houston’s offense to back him entirely. Instead, I will bet the Red Sox team total at 4.5 and +115. I would bet this to 4 and -115.
Justin Turner Total Bases
Tanner McGrath: The Braves will be starting Max Fried for Game 1 of the NLCS. Fried has been dealing lately, but this provides a good opportunity for Turner.
On the road and vs. LHPs this season, Turner is slugging over .500. While Fried is a four-seam heavy pitcher (38.9%), Turner has posted a .531 xSLG and a +7 run value against the pitch this season.
Lifetime against Fried, Turner is 7-for-16 with a double and two home runs. Plus, he’s only whiffed 13% of the time in those ABs while posting a 93.7 mph average exit velocity.
Turner makes a lot of contact against Fried, and it’s frequently hard contact. I think he does the same thing tonight. Additionally, if Turner doesn’t cash this prop against Fried, he’ll have a good chance against a questionable Braves bullpen.
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DJ James: Max Fried was lethal in the second half of the season. He held a 1.74 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in that timespan, which is as good as it gets. He induces weak contact with the best of them (86.5 mph exit velocity).
He does not walk many batters, either, so L.A. will have to be prepared to swing. His curve will likely negate any success the Dodgers’ batters have had against lefties this season. They only had a .228 xwOBA and 83.8 mph exit velocity on lefty curves this season.
The Braves are a notably weak-hitting team, especially compared to the remaining clubs in the playoffs. Their lineup is very top-heavy with only five hitters over the 100 wRC+ mark since August 1 versus right-handers.
With Jorge Soler out, the Braves will not score much off of Dodgers pitching regardless of who starts, and Fried should have success against Los Angeles hitters. The Braves’ weakest part of their team is their bullpen and they are fully rested.
Take the under in this game at 8 (+100) and play to 7.5 (-110). Runs will come at a premium.
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