MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Expert Projections for Friday’s Wild Card Games on 10/7/22
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images. Pictured: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
For Saturday's version of this article, click here
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 provided my updated projections and pre-playoff futures on Thursday before the Wild Card round.
Below, I will address how to handle betting on these playoff series, whether on the series moneyline or a game-by-game basis, while using my daily MLB Model projections.
You can also shop for the best lines on our odds page.
Using my projections, where can we find actionable value on Friday?
Series Moneyline Corner
Here are my updated series moneyline projections for the Wild Card round:
As I mentioned in my Thursday futures piece, you can bet the series underdogs to the following price targets:
- Tampa Bay Rays (to +100)
- Philadelphia Phillies (to -105)
- Seattle Mariners (to +145)
- San Diego Padres (to +131)
I placed bets on the Padres (+150, 0.5u), Phillies (+120, 1.25u), and Rays (+110, 1u) while holding out for a superior price on the Mariners.
My projections for Philadelphia and Tampa Bay are less optimistic than publicly available projections, and either team represents a highly actionable betting opportunity.
Conversely, I am slightly more optimistic about the Padres than other projections. I would place a smaller bet before Game 1 on San Diego, expecting to add to our series position before Game 2.
Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Guardians, 12:07 p.m. ET
Shane McClanahan vs. Shane Bieber (full projections here)
While I favor Tampa Bay in all three games of this series, and show value on their series price, NL Pennant odds, and World Series odds in the futures markets, I do have a slight hesitation about betting on Shane McClanahan (2.78 xERA, 2.60 xFIP, 2.82 SIERA).
The southpaw was the AL Cy Young favorite at one point this season but went on the IL in late August with a shoulder injury and struggled in four starts after returning to action (19 IP, 8 BB, 12 K, 4 HR allowed, 5.14 xFIP). His swinging strike rate dipped from 16.3% before the IL stint to 9.6% after, even though his velocity remained intact (and increased by 0.5 mph on average).
Perhaps the performance dip is just a blip on the radar. Still, I'm moderately concerned by the noticeable dip in command.
That concern is counteracted a bit by Cleveland's offensive split. While they ranked as an above-average offense against righties (104 wRC+, 11th) and carried the lowest strikeout rate in baseball against right-handed pitching (17.3%), their numbers dipped noticeably against left-handed pitching (84 wRC+, 27th with a 20.7% strikeout rate, 10th).
McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs, Josh Fleming, Brooks Raley and Garrett Cleavinger could see relatively heavy usage in this series.
Even after dropping his projections slightly, I still view McClanahan as a slightly better pitcher than Shane Bieber (3.51 xERA, 2.98 xFIP, 3.20 SIERA).
And even though Cleveland has the superior season-long bullpen metrics, I model the Rays' current bullpen as the slightly better unit.
I projected Tampa Bay around -110 (52.4% implied) in either half of Friday's matchup and would bet both the Rays' first five innings (F5) and full-game moneylines down to about -101 (50.25% implied) at a two percent edge compared to my projections.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 2:07 p.m. ET
Zack Wheeler vs. Jose Quintana (full projections here)
I was admittedly surprised to see the Cardinals name Jose Quintana (3.85 xERA, 3.72 xFIP, 4.02 SIERA) as their Game 1 starter. While I don't project much of a difference between Quintana and Miles Mikolas, the Phillies are certainly better against left-handed pitching (115 wrC+, 6th) than righties (102 wRC+, 12th).
And that southpaw split has improved by eight percent (3rd) in the two months since the trade deadline.
Conversely, the Cardinals are in their lesser split against Zack Wheeler (3.10 xERA, 3.06 xFIP, 3.19 SIERA). St. Louis had the No. 1 offense against lefties (130 wRC+) this season but the fifth-best offense against righties (109 wRC+), and my model does give Philadelphia an offensive advantage — on top of the starting pitching advantage — for this Game 1 matchup.
Furthermore, their bullpen projects as the slightly better unit too. And that's even assuming that Ryan Helsley is 100% for the Cardinals after jamming a finger on his pitching hand this week.
While the Cardinals are a top-three defensive team in my model, Philadelphia has shuffled pieces around and improved to an above-average defensive club late in the year, despite what the season-long metrics might indicate.
I projected Philadelphia's F5 line at -133 (57% implied) and their full game line at -115 (53.4% implied) for Friday and would bet the Phillies' moneyline to -122 (55% implied) and -106 (51.4% implied), respectively.
And I would consider betting an Under 7 at -115 or better, with Busch Stadium playing about five percent below the park norm given Friday's weather conditions (projected total 6.35).
Lastly, considering I project the Phillies as -115 and -118 favorites for the first two games in this series, I would bet their -1.5 game spread, or Win Series 2-0 prop at +265 at Draftkings; compared to my fair odds of +245.
Seattle Mariners vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m. ET
Luis Castillo vs. Alek Manoah (full projections here)
I'm pleased to see Luis Castillo (3.31 xERA, 3.23 xFIP, 3.35 SIERA) back in the postseason after one career appearance in the expanded 2020 playoffs.
My projections view him as a highly comparable pitcher to Alek Manoah (3.31 xERA, 3.98 xFIP, 3.85 SIERA), who strikes out fewer batters but generates more weak contact.
Toronto has a clear offensive advantage in this series, particularly against right-handed pitching, where the gap in splits (118 wrC+ vs. 106 for Seattle) is more pronounced than the gap against lefties (five percent).
Seattle has the superior bullpen and may prove the best team for live betting when their top arms are fresh. Still, I give Toronto the slight defensive advantage after a marked improvement relative to last season.
While I bet Toronto's F5 line at -122 on Thursday, I would need -125 (55.6% implied) or better to place that bet at roughly a two percent edge compared to my projection (-135, 57.5% implied). And I wouldn't force a wager at anything higher than that price target.
I don't show any value concerning the totals and would pass on betting on this game unless Toronto's F5 line comes back into range.
San Diego Padres vs. New York Mets, 8:07 p.m. ET
Yu Darvish vs. Max Scherzer (full projections here)
I'll generally look to back the Mets against right-handed pitching (119 wRC+, 2nd) and bet against them when facing left-handed pitching (109 wRC+, 12th) during these playoffs. Particularly if they're without Starling Marte (153 wRC+ vs. lefties) and Darrin Ruf (116) for the first round or two.
The Mets' splits are even more pronounced since the trade deadline (128 wRC+ vs. righties, 1st; 107 wRC+ vs. lefties, 11th) when they acquired a pair of left-handed bats in Tyler Naquin and Daniel Vogelbach to boost their offense.
The Padres' offense has ranked closer to league average throughout the season, no matter how you slice it.
Scherzer (2.87 xERA, 3.23 xFIP, 3.06 SIERA) is undoubtedly the superior pitcher as compared to Darvish (3.54 xERA, 3.58 xFIP, 3.39 SIERA), and my model gives New York a very slight bullpen advantage too; though the bridge between any of their starting pitchers and Edwin Diaz (1.69 xERA, 1.04 xFIP, 1.11 SIERA) can be a bit shaky.
I'm interested to see how hard the Mets push Diaz this postseason; and whether Buck Showalter regularly deploys him in multi-inning stints, something he only did in four of 61 appearances this year.
For those unaware, Diaz struck out more than half of all batters he faced in 2022 (50.2%), which is just staggering:
The last hit on a Edwin Diaz breaking pitch was August 25th.
— Inside Edge (@IE_MLB) October 4, 2022
Ultimately, my moneyline projections for this game align with the betting market. I would need +143 (41.5% implied) or better to back the Padres, but I doubt the line climbs that high.
Regarding the totals, I would consider betting the F5 Over 3 (-110) compared to my projection (3.38), but I prefer the Mets F5 team total Over 1.5 (-110) compared to my team projection (1.85); and I'd bet that number up to -115.
Bets for October 7
- New York Mets F5 Team Total Over 1.5 (-110 at DraftKings), bet to -115
- Philadelphia Phillies F5 (-110 at BetMGM, 1u), bet to -122
- Philadelphia Phillies (-105 at BetRivers, 0.5u), bet to -106
- Philadelphia Phillies win Series 2-0 (+265 at Draftkings, 0.25u)
- Tampa Bay Rays F5 (+104 at FanDuel, 0.5u), bet to +100
- Tampa Bay Rays (+110 at FanDuel, 0.5u), bet to +100
- Toronto Blue Jays F5 (-122 at FanDuel, 0.5u), bet to -125