MLB Playoff Future Odds, Picks, Predictions: 6 Best Bets For World Series, Pennant & More
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images. Pictured: The Tampa Bay Rays celebrate one of their 100 regular-season victories.
The MLB playoffs are finally here.
While the field is set and will be further dwindled the next two days with Yankees vs. Red Sox in the AL Wild Card Game and Cardinals-Dodgers in the NL Wild Card Game, there’s still plenty of value to be found in the futures market.
From exact matchups, outcomes, pennant odds and World Series odds, our analysts have found plenty of bets to recommend before things get started tonight.
Here are our best future bets for the 2021 Major League Baseball postseason.
MLB Odds & Picks
World Series: Tampa Bay Rays (+750)
Collin Whitchurch: The Rays are perpetually underrated by sportsbooks, and it’s absurd to me that teams like the White Sox and Astros have lower odds to win the World Series.
Tampa isn’t a public team. It doesn’t have an MVP candidate, nor someone in the Cy Young conversation. But we saw what this team can do in October a year ago, and there’s no reason to believe it can’t pull off the same feat.
The Rays posted a winning record against both the Yankees and Red Sox during the regular season. They were the best team in the American League, running away from a division that finished with FOUR 90-game winners (that’s never happened before in history).
They have a deep, dangerous pitching staff, any of whom can be called upon in virtually any situation. Their lineups is heavy on the platoon, and Kevin Cash (or the Rays’ front office) pulls all the right strings with guys who can beat you 1 through 9.
The playoffs are a crapshoot, and any of the 10 teams can get hot at the right time and win the whole danged thing. But the best team in the American League at the fifth-best odds? Sign me up. I would bet Tampa to +600, while also sprinkling a little on a Rays-Brewers (+1500) or Rays-Braves (+2000) matchup.
AL Pennant: New York Yankees (+600)
DJ James: The big, bad empire is not all the way back, as some fans would say, but there is plenty of value on their pennant future line. One, they match up very well with the Boston Red Sox, their noted rivals, whom they play Tuesday night in the Wild Card Game.
The Red Sox will pitch Nathan Eovaldi against Gerrit Cole. Now, Cole did struggle in a couple games in September, but his overall 3.12 xERA and 33.5% strikeout percentage is notable. Eovaldi owns a 3.39 xERA, but he does not have the strikeout ability that Cole has.
In addition, Eovaldi features his fastball 42.3% of the time. On fastballs since August 1, the Yankees have a .369 xwOBA and 92 mph average exit velocity. They should be able to knock Eovaldi out of the game early and handle the very mediocre Boston bullpen in the later innings.
When it comes to any potential American League opponent, the Yankees have fared well versus the field. They are 9-10 against Boston, 8-11 against Tampa Bay, 4-2 against Houston, and 5-1 against Chicago. They can beat any of these teams to win the pennant.
With one of the strongest bullpens and an underperforming lineup, I believe New York has the ability to surpass both Boston and Tampa Bay. After that, they just need one more series win versus Houston or Chicago, whom they have proven to be able to beat this season already. Take them at +600 and play to +500 to win the pennant.
Series Outcome: Astros Over White Sox (-124)
Anthony Dabbundo: With all of the chaos in the AL wild-card race and the hype of the Tampa Bay Rays’ 100-win season, the Astros are somehow flying under the radar in the AL playoffs. Maybe it’s because no one wants to root for them, but they do have the second-best odds to win the World Series and best odds to win the American League at most shops.
Their first round opponent is the White Sox, who went just 27-29 against teams with winning records this season. They played in a terrible AL Central and benefitted from lots of interleague against the weak NL Central as well.
As we saw in last year’s playoffs, the seemingly impressive pitching of those Central Division staffs struggled as they faced much better lineups in the playoffs.
There’s uncertainty around Carlos Rodón’s health, and while the White Sox lineup absolutely destroyed lefties, Houston has few left-handed arms in its bullpen and only one lefty in its playoff rotation.
The Astros have the much better offense, home field advantage and a good enough pitching top three with Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia to handle the White Sox in the first round. -124 implies these two teams are close in true talent and I don’t think that’s the case. I’ll take Dusty Baker over Tony La Russa in close games and the Astros to advance to the ALCS.
World Series Exact Matchup: Rays vs. Brewers (+1600)
Sean Zerillo: There are numerous ways to find value in betting on MLB playoff futures. Still, considering that I am already (heavily) invested in most of these teams from different times throughout the preseason and regular season, my favorite postseason bet is a long-shot play involving two of our existing futures.
I project the Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays as potential value teams heading into the playoffs. And I see actionable value on each of their pennant and World Series futures.
I also show value on the potential World Series exact matchup props involving those four teams:
- Tampa Bay vs. Milwaukee: 6.78% (+1375 implied)
- Chicago vs. Milwaukee: 6.75% (+1382 implied)
- Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta: 5.50% (+1718 implied)
- Chicago vs. Atlanta: 5.47% (+1728 implied)
Of those props, Brewers vs. Rays is my favorite option. Before the season started, I predicted an Astros vs. Dodgers rematch, but I had the Brewers and the Rays losing in their respective championship series.
I was high on these teams coming into this season, and those two clubs have impressed me more than any other pair. I sometimes think of the Brewers and Rays as the NL and AL mirror to one another, with their attention to defense and ability to turn almost any warm body in their system into an effective relief arm.
They also have some in-season familiarity — with the Willy Adames for Drew Rasmussen and J.P. Feyereisen trade ultimately proving beneficial for both clubs.
You could bet the futures for these teams individually, and if you don’t already have MLB playoff action, I would recommend doing so.
Either way, you might want to sprinkle their exact result prop, too.
World Series: Houston Astros (+600)
Michael Arinze: As fans were allowed back into the stadiums this year, they didn’t hesitate in voicing their displeasure of the Astros’ involvement in a sign-stealing scandal. Each time they visited a new ballpark, the away fans serenaded them with a barrage of boos. However, the Astros won the second-most games in the American League (95) and finished with a +205 run differential.
One thing we can expect from Houston is a battle-tested team. Its starters won the most games during the regular season (63), and their depth should be an advantage in these head-to-head playoff matchups.
The Astros will have home-field advantage when they open up against the White Sox on Thursday. Houston comes in as the healthier of the two teams while there was some concern about Chicago’s lefthander Carlos Rodón. Toward the end of the season, Rodón developed some arm soreness and lost some of his velocity. His fastball’s been clocked at over 97 mph this season, but he struggled to even crack 90 mph in one of his recent outings.
As good as Chicago’s been this season, they haven’t been as good offensively as Houston. It’s not a stretch to think that no team’s had a better offense than Houston this season. The Astros finished first in all of baseball with a wRC+ value of 116. They also led baseball with a .267 batting average and finished the highest WAR value (34.1).
Houston was one game away from the World Series last year, and this could be the final run for the group with Carlos Correa set to hit free agency. I think there’s a clear motivation for this team to go one step further than last year. PointsBet has the best price on the board with Houston at +600, so I’ll look to place my action there. I’m comfortable playing this down to +500.
World Series: Boston Red Sox (+1800)
Brad Cunningham: Admittedly, the Red Sox do have some flaws, but for me this number is too good to pass up.
Boston’s offense since the trade deadline has been the best of anyone in the postseason, with 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 have positive run values versus every single pitch type and are top three against sliders, curveballs, and changeups.
Boston is also top 10 in wOBA against both right- and left-handed pitching and its two-through-five hitters of Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Kyle Schwarber and J.D. Martinez all have a wOBA over .360 and a batting average over .275. In fact, Schwarber since joining the Red Sox has a .413 wOBA and 17 extra-base hits in 41 games.
Just Kyle Schwarber putting us on the board. Nothing you haven't seen before. pic.twitter.com/iAnEHZiYnT
— NESN (@NESN) September 28, 2021
Now that the Red Sox have Chris Sale back in the rotation, they have three legit starters who can give any lineup big problems. Nathan Eovaldi is pitching the AL Wild Card Game and he’s 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 obviously got shelled in his last start against the Yankees, giving up seven earned, but he’s faced the Yankees five other times this season and has allowed two or fewer earned runs in all five of those starts. Also, the only pitch in Eovaldi’s arsenal that the Yankees rank inside the top 10 against is curveballs.
Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez can match up against any other team’s top three starters. Sale has a 3.49 xERA, 3.26 xFIP, and 10.97 K/9 rate in nine starters, while Eduardo Rodriguez 3.54 xERA, 3.43 xFIP, and 10.56 K/9 rate.
The bullpen has had problems since the trade deadline, as it’s 21st in ERA, 29th in BB/9 rate, and 26th in LOB%, but an elite offense and fantastic starting pitching can make up for that in the playoffs like the Nationals showed us in 2019.
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