Sunday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: How To Bet 6 Games That Matter, Including Yankees vs. Rays & Red Sox vs. Nationals (October 3)
Getty Images. Pictured: Six teams fighting for a playoff spot on Sunday.
- There are six games with serious playoff implications on the last day of the MLB season.
- Four teams are battling for the two spots in the AL wild-card race, while the Giants and Dodgers still have to decide the NL West crown.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of all six matchups on the final day of the MLB regular season.
It’s finally here. The final day of the 2021 MLB regular season. Last game(s) of the year, Brent. Can’t hold anything back.
For everyone except the Braves and Rockies, this is Game 162 (don’t ask). For six teams, Sunday matters more than the previous 161. For some of those, it’s pure seeding. For most, it means the difference between tomorrow and not.
Major League Baseball did something amazing a few years ago when it decided every game would start in the same block. From 3:05 to 3:20 p.m. ET, all 15 games will see their first pitch. It has the potential to create some truly dramatic moments as day turns into night.
It’s great for gambling as well. Teams will be scoreboard watching, no doubt, and anything can happen. This is your last chance to bet on some true randomness before we get into the nitty-gritty that is postseason baseball.
Here’s how I’m betting the games that matter on the final day of the regular season.
MLB Odds & Picks
|3:10 p.m. ET|
Red Sox vs. Nationals
|Nationals First Five Innings (+195)|
Why It Matters: The AL wild-card race remains confusing as all get out, even with just one day left in the regular season. To put it as simply as possible: If the Red Sox win, they’re in and hosting the AL Wild Card Game, regardless of what the Yankees do, because Boston won the head-to-head series with New York during the regular season.
If the Red Sox lose… well, a lot could happen. They could still host the Wild Card Game. They could make the Wild Card Game, but be on the road. They could miss the postseason altogether.
Needless to say, the Red Sox want to win this game.
The Pick: Joan Adon will be making his major-league debut in Washington’s last game of the season. While not a top prospect, Adon has a solid fastball and posted a 26.9% strikeout rate in the minors this season.
How long he lasts is tough to say, but I’m often in favor of backing teams early in debuts, if only because the opposing hitters will likely take a bit to familiarize themselves with his offerings. So, I think there’s value on the Nationals in the first five innings at +195 and would bet them to +170 odds.
Padres vs. Giants
|Giants First Five Innings (-150)|
Why It Matters: The Giants have spent months fending off the Dodgers in an attempt to snap Los Angeles’ eight-year stranglehold on the NL West. They can do it with a win… or a Dodgers loss.
Of course, San Francisco is going to the playoffs regardless, but the difference in these results is getting a home series starting Friday or playing the Cardinals in a winner-take-all game Wednesday.
For that to happen, the Giants would need to lose and the Dodgers would need to win. That would trigger a Game 163 on Wednesday, as the Dodgers and Giants would have identical records. The winner of that game would win the division and host the NLDS. The loser would go to that NL Wild Card Game against St. Louis.
The Pick: The Giants are well positioned here to wrap up the NL West without having to worry about playing Monday. Logan Webb has been a solid No. 2 for them throughout the season and will look to put an exclamation mark on a breakout 2021 season in the finale.
Webb has a remarkable 2.93 ERA that’s backed up by a 2.81 xFIP and 2.93 xERA. September has been his shakiest month, but San Francisco holds a significant edge with him on the mound against Reiss Knehr and a depleted Padres pitching staff.
San Diego has its eyes firmly on the offseason, and Knehr hasn’t faired well as a starter on the rare occasion when his name has been called. The Giants’ moneyline is juiced, but the first five innings number at -150 still holds value as long as you can find it at that number.
Rays vs. Yankees
Why It Matters: The Yankees entered the weekend two games clear of any of their AL wild-card competitors. Two consecutive losses to the rival Rays have the Yankees in limbo.
A win means they’re in. A loss would mean they’re either going on the road in the AL Wild Card Game… or in a whole bunch of tiebreaking Game 163 scenarios depending on how the Red Sox, Mariners and Blue Jays do.
The Pick: It’s not entirely surprising to see the Yankees bypass Gerrit Cole on short rest here, as he’d be on it and even with a loss they’re guaranteed at least one more game after today — whether it be a tiebreaker Monday or the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday.
Taillon returned from injury last week and threw just 38 pitches in a tune-up against the Blue Jays. This will be another “get-right” spot for him as he hopes to make an impact in the postseason, but it will be tough sledding against a dangerous Rays offense.
How motivated the Rays will be as they look toward the ALDS is tough to say, but you could’ve said the same thing on each of the past two days and Tampa still blew the doors off the Yankees.
Michael Wacha has been the weakest link in the Tampa rotation all season, but the Rays will likely look to get some key pitchers work to keep them fresh with three consecutive days off following the game.
Given their offensive prowess and strong bullpen, there’s plenty of value on the Rays at +135 and would bet them to +125 odds.
Orioles vs. Blue Jays
|Orioles Team Total Over 3.5 (-120)|
Why It Matters: The Blue Jays need some help. A loss here takes them out of things entirely. If the Red Sox and Yankees both win they’re out, too. A win and losses by either of those two would trigger some tiebreaking scenarios, and a Mariners win would create further chaos.
The Pick: Bruce Zimmermann has been one of Baltimore’s steadier arm in a forgettable 2021 season. That’s not saying a ton, given the state of the pitching staff as a whole, but he has consistently given the team around five innings of work and has only allowed more than three earned runs twice in 13 outings.
Hyun Jin Ryu hasn’t had a season to remember either in the second of his four-year deal with Toronto. And while the Blue Jays will undoubtedly be going all-out in a must-win game, the Orioles are actually a good offensive team against lefties with a 101 wRC+ on the season that ranks 12th-best in the majors.
There’s some value on the Orioles’ run line (+1.5 at +150), but that bullpen and a motivated, scary Toronto lineup scares me too much. Baltimore should get to Ryu, though, and so I’ll take Baltimore’s team total over 3.5 at -120.
Angels vs. Mariners
|Mariners Team Total Over 4.5 (+115)|
Why It Matters: You can basically repeat the entire Blue Jays section and apply it here to the Mariners.
The Pick: If you missed the ending on Saturday’s Angels-Mariners game because you were asleep or doing something silly like watching college football, you missed one of the most dramatic moments of this baseball season.
The Mariners — who needed a win to keep their hopes of snapping a 20-year playoff drought alive — blew a 3-1 lead and trailed 4-3 in the eighth inning, when Mitch Haniger did this:
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) October 3, 2021
How could you bet against this team of destiny? This team on the brink of setting Seattle ablaze, somehow, someway, with a -47 run differential?
Seattle is a heavy favorite against Los Angeles rookie Reid Detmers. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I like Seattle’s run total over 4.5 at plus money.
Brewers vs. Dodgers
|3:10 p.m. ET|
Why It Matters: If the Giants win, the Dodgers are hosting the NL Wild Card Game no matter the result of this one. If the Giants lose, a Dodgers win would trigger a Game 163 on Monday.
The winner of that would win the NL West and have home-field advantage throughout the postseason. The loser would host the Cardinals in the winner-take-all NL Wild Card Game on Wednesday.
The Pick: The Brewers haven’t announced who will start as of this writing, with manager Craig Counsell just saying pregame Saturday that it wouldn’t be Brandon Woodruff or Freddy Peralta.
That’s expected and the fact the Brewers pulled Corbin Burnes on Saturday after just two innings shows how careful they’re being with their trifecta of aces.
Regardless of who goes, the Dodgers are going to be heavy favorites, and given the Brewers’ current state of “just get through this week healthy,” there isn’t value to be found here.
A Bonus Parlay To Have A Little Fun
There’s a chance, given the chaotic nature of Sunday, that we could have as many as three Game 163s on Monday.
In order for that to happen the following results would need to happen:
- Rays win
- Nationals win
- Blue Jays win
- Mariners win
- Padres win
- Dodgers win
If you’re feeling frisky and are firmly entrenched in #TeamEntropy, a six-way parlay with those results would pay +4511 at DraftKings. You know, just for fun.