Major League Baseball Odds, Picks, Projections: How To Bet Tuesday’s Three Divisional Series Matchups (Oct. 12)

Major League Baseball Odds, Picks, Projections: How To Bet Tuesday’s Three Divisional Series Matchups (Oct. 12) article feature image
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Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: Giants Game 3 heroes Evan Longoria and Camilo Doval

Throughout the Major League Baseball playoffs, I will provide a daily breakdown summarizing my thoughts on both futures and individual games for that day.

I will also address betting these playoff series, whether on the series moneyline or a game-by-game basis, while using my daily MLB Model projections.

Let’s talk series prices before digging into Tuesday’s three-game slate — the actual last day with more than two games on MLB’s 2021 calendar.

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Series Moneyline Corner

Here are my updated series ML projections for the divisional round:

Despite taking a reverse sweep on Monday’s single-game bets, we did cash a pair of series moneyline tickets on the Red Sox (at +165 and +130), which more than covered our half-unit Rays future.

Following Monday’s rainout, the Astros reshuffled their pitching rotation. Still, I don’t show any change concerning their series projection. I already have a couple of series tickets riding on the White Sox (+120 and +240) and would need +345 or better to back Chicago again. Conversely, I would bet Houston up to -264 on the series moneyline. I doubt you that see either price.

The Dodgers dropped Game 3 at home to the Giants, halving their series win probability (from 62% to 31%) in the process and putting our series ticket (-147) in jeopardy. You can bet the Dodgers to stage a comeback at +245 or better, and I wouldn’t lay anything more than -200 on the Giants to close out the series.

Atlanta’s increased its series projection by 24% following its Game 3 win. I haven’t gotten involved on either side of that series moneyline yet, but I would consider betting the Brewers at +245 to win the final two games.

Astros vs. White Sox, Game 4 (2:07 p.m. ET)

The Astros will opt for a fully rested Lance McCullers Jr. in Game 4 following Monday’s rainout. The pitching change increases their Game 4 win probability by 4%, relative to Monday’s projection with José Urquidy, who will likely split Game 5 duties with Framber Valdez, if necessary.

McCullers impressed in Game 1 (6 2/3 shutout innings), with a 31% called strike plus whiff rate, primarily led by his sinker, slider and curveball. As I mentioned before that opener, McCullers revitalized his approach this season by adding a slider (24% usage) to his arsenal, giving him a pair of top-five breaking balls on a per-pitch basis.

When batters aren’t whiffing at the breaking balls, they’re pounding his curveball (59%), changeup (61%) and sinker (64%) into the ground. McCullers carries this sixth-highest groundball rate among qualified pitchers (min. 100 innings) and trusts the elite defenders behind him (76 Defensive Runs Saved; 3rd in MLB) to make the necessary plays.

Chicago’s Carlos Rodón had an excellent season (2.63 xERA) but has struggled with a long history of injuries and saw a velocity downturn late in the year:

Through the end of July, Rodón had averaged 95.9 mph on his fastball. In his final five starts of the season, he averaged just 93.2 mph on the same pitch, decreasing 2.7 mph.

I expect Tony La Russa to have a quick hook with Rodón, who was the AL Cy Young betting favorite at one point this year, largely thanks to the highest fastball velocity (averaged 95.4 mph) of his career by two full ticks.

A fully rested Lance Lynn is available in relief, but Tony La Russa said Michael Kopech would not be after tossing 47 pitches on Monday. The other critical relievers in that bullpen who appeared twice in the first three games received vital rest days, and I project Chicago’s bullpen as nearly six-tenths of a run better than Houston’s (3.39 to 3.97 model weighted ERA).

While I don’t show value on either side of the moneyline — unless the White Sox moneyline falls to -104 for the game — I do show value concerning the totals, both for the first five innings (F5) and the whole game.

A fully healthy Rodón probably makes this Under look sharp, and while there is some early blowup potential in his profile, I’m comforted knowing that Lynn could be the first man out of the White Sox bullpen.

Bet the Under 8.5 (to -114), and the F5 Under 4.5 (to -115).

My projected F5 total dropped by 0.2 runs, and my full game total decreased by 0.36 runs after adjusting the starters and the bullpens for this matchup following Monday’s rainout, and I had previously bet the Under 9 for that game.

Brewers vs. Braves, Game 4 (5:15 p.m. ET)

The Brewers have a few different ways to approach Game 4 from a pitching perspective, and I hope they attack this playoff like the 2019 Nationals — using their big three on short rest whenever possible. Their championship window seems reasonably limited, and you might as well step on the gas if you’re already in the thick of the race.

The aggressive option is to use Corbin Burnes on short rest in Game 4 and Brandon Woodruff on full rest in Game 5 if they make it that far. The conservative approach would be to try to win Game 4 without the strength of your team — its top three pitchers — and to save two of them for Game 5.

If Burnes (2.01 xERA, 2.30 xFIP) doesn’t start on short rest, lefty Eric Lauer (3.92 xERA, 4.26 xFIP) would seemingly fit the bill. Lauer offers a five-pitch mix, and each offering except for his fastball (44.6% usage) returned a positive pitch value this season.

The Brewers have realized the need to tweak his pitch mix, and those advancements are already underway; the fastball usage is trending downward, and the slider has become a much more significant part of the plan:

Lauer didn’t deploy the slider this season until early July. Over his final 13 starts, it ranked second in his arsenal in usage (17.3%) and showed an average velocity (87.3 mph) more than two mph above its career norm.

The Braves opted for a more aggressive approach – bringing back Charlie Morton on short rest for Game 4. The veteran took a hard-luck loss in Game 1 (6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 9 K) where he really only made one mistake while posting a 36% called-strike plus whiff rate; mostly from his four-seamer (12) and curveball (16).

I would still have favored the Braves in this game with Huascar Ynoa pitching.

I have never been high on Ynoa as a starting pitcher. He’s a two-pitch guy (45.1% fastball, 48.2% slider) with shaky command (career 3.03 BB/9) whose high-octane fastball (average 96.5 mph) rates as slightly below average, likely due to mediocre spin (28th percentile).

Ynoa can throw the fastball all over the zone and locate his plus slider down and in to lefties (or down and away from righties), but that’s about it. He’s also a reverse spits pitcher as the slider is more effective against lefties (.210 xwOBA) than righties (.259):

Huascar Ynoa, Filthy 86mph Slider. 😷 pic.twitter.com/MTHHyCyvnt

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 16, 2021

Still – I think he can be a major weapon out of the bullpen – and I suspect he may come in behind Morton.

The Brewers just haven’t come up clutch in this series. In the past two games — a pair of shutout losses — they are 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position and have left 14 men on base, continuing a recent trend of NL Central contenders in the postseason.

I would bet the Brewers at +134 or better on the moneyline, and +148 or better for the first five innings (F5).

And I may jump in on the Brewers’ series price at +245 or better.

Giants vs. Dodgers, Game 4 (9:07 p.m. ET)

As I mentioned above, the Dodgers’ series odds halved — from 62% to 31% — following their Game 3 loss. Since we laid some juice to play the Dodgers’ series price before Game 1, I’m not going to lay juice back the other way on the Giants; but I would consider betting the Dodgers again at +245 or better.

Initially, it looked like the defending champions would turn to “the Cat Man” Tony Gonsolin (3.68 xERA, 4.63 xFIP) against “Tony Disco” Anthony DeSclafani (3.92 xERA, 3.95 xFIP) in a must-win Game 4.

Gonsolin struggled with his walk rate this season (14.2% vs. 9.7% career) while striking out more batters than ever before. He stranded runners at a high clip (86.2%) and carried a low BABIP (.250); otherwise, his ERA would have been significantly higher.

Gonsolin’s splitter and slider are a pair of plus offerings, with whiff rates north of 40%. Still, the Giants spit at a lot of pitches (28.2% O-Swing%; second behind the Dodgers), and if he can’t entice the Giants to chase, then he might get the hook early:

Tony Gonsolin and his splitter return. pic.twitter.com/DPc4F7zRzq

— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) June 10, 2021

I saw those two starters as relative equals (3.97 and 3.99 Model ERA) on a one-game basis.

However, the Dodgers announced Walker Buehler (3.37 Model ERA) as their short rest starter on Tuesday, giving the home team the advantage in every facet of this matchup:

Desclafani hasn’t modified his pitch mix drastically in San Francisco save for exchanging a few fastballs for sliders. Moving from the Great American Ballpark to Oracle Park has helped keep his HR/FB rate in check (11% in 2021; down from 17.9%, 16.2%, and 19.8% from 2018-2020). Additionally, exchanging a subpar Reds defense for an above-average Giants group has helped lower his BABIP to .265.

On Monday, Camilo Doval continued to look unhittable for the Giants, locking down two clean innings to preserve a 1-0 lead. That makes 19 1/3 consecutive shutout innings for Doval, with eight hits and three walks allowed against 27 strikeouts. He may not be available on Tuesday, but Doval will continue to be a problem for opponents throughout these playoffs; and he is looking like a significant part of those Giants’ championship hopes with his ability to shorten games.

Without Doval in the mix, I give the Dodgers’ bullpen about a quarter of a run advantage. I also rate them as the superior offensive club (by 0.9 runs per game) and twice as good defensively.

I would bet the Dodgers on the moneyline at -150, and the F5 moneyline at -165.

I would also jump in on the Dodgers’ series price at +245 or better.

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Summary

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The Bets

  • Astros/White Sox, Under 8.5 (bet to -112)
  • Astros/White Sox, F5 Under 4.5 (bet to -115)
  • White Sox Moneyline (bet to -104)
  • Milwaukee Brewers Moneyline (bet to +135)
  • Milwaukee Brewers, First Five Innings (bet to +148)
  • Brewers — Series ML (value to +245)

Watching

  • Los Angeles Dodgers Moneyline (bet to -150)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers, First Five Innings (bet to -170)
  • Dodgers — Series ML (value to +245)

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