MLB Playoff Odds, Picks, Projections for Braves vs Phillies, Astros vs Mariners, Yankees vs Guardians, Dodgers vs Padres
Denis Poroy/Getty Images. Pictured: The Padres crowd.
Throughout the Major League Baseball playoffs, I will provide a daily breakdown summarizing my thoughts on both futures and individual games for that day.
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 Monday?
Series Moneyline Corner
First, let's take a look at my updated projected series prices for the Divisional Round before Saturday's games:
The Padres and Phillies will get a chance to clinch in a pair of Game 4s at home on Saturday. I see the Dodgers as the slightly likelier team to parlay a pair of wins into an NLCS appearance; the Padres' starting pitching options for Game 5 are concerning.
Our +180 series ticket on the Phillies is in good shape. You could lock in a profit and hedge by betting on Atlanta (+185 at Caesars) or free-roll your original Philies wager with a smaller bet on the Braves. Still, I would typically set the price target on the Atlanta bet at +197 or higher — two percent above my projected number. I'll cheer on my original ticket in Game 4 and ride it out.
And with extremely live World Series and pennant futures in play for both teams — but more risk allocation tied to Atlanta — I'd want that series ticket to cover my potential losses on the Braves' futures.
Our Padres NL Pennant ticket is extremely live too, but we don't have any investment in that series yet.
Given my concern about the Padres' pitching situation for Game 5, I'm interested in betting on the Dodgers, but only at +174 or better. The number re-opened at +166 at FanDuel after Game 3; I'm willing to wait to see where it goes.
The Astros number surprisingly re-opened at -450 (81.8%) at one book (and stayed there for about 25 minutes) following their Game 2 victory. With a 10 percent gap compared to my updated projection, I bet that price until they took it off the board.
I would need a number around +1567 (6% implied) or higher to bet the Mariners to win three consecutive games, and the best number out there (+1200) falls well short of the mark.
Lastly, depending upon the book, you can find a break-even price on the Yankees (-140 at DraftKings) or Guardians (+140 at Caesars). I set my price targets at -136 and +148, respectively, and will continue monitoring the market until Saturday game time.
Braves vs. Phillies, 2:07 p.m. ET
Charlie Morton vs. Noah Syndergaard (full projections here)
Saturday's pitching matchup between Charlie Morton (4.11 xERA, 3.61 xFIP, 3.48 SIERA) and Noah Syndergaard (4.43 xERA, 4.29 xFIP, 4.39 SIERA) feels like an "Over" game.
Both pitchers have gotten roughed up at different points this season, and either or both could completely implode against two of the better offenses in the National League.
Syndergaard's stuff is severely diminished from his prime. Thor missed nearly two full seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and his fastball velocity in 2022 (94.5 mph) sat more than three ticks below previous levels and five mph off his career pick.
And as that fastball velocity fell toward league average, so did his underlying metrics — and statistical profile.
Understandably, his K-BB% nearly halved, and his swinging strike rate dipped by 27% compared to his career averages. To combat the loss of stuff, Syndergaard dialed back his four-seam fastball usage and relied more on his sinker, but he continued to struggle.
Unless his velocity returns, it's hard to imagine Syndergaard as anything better than a league-average arm moving forward; an extremely disappointing development for a pitcher who looked like the next big thing in 2017-2018 (32 starts, 184 IP, 42 BB, 189 K).
This season, Morton struggled in five starts against the Phillies (26 1/3 IP, 31 H, 17 R, 11 BB, 26 K). He owns a career .722 OPS allowed against current Phillies hitters over 233 plate appearances. Bryce Harper (10-for-24, three extra-base hits, 7 BB, 6 K) sees the ball well against him.
I'll look for a solid price on Harper Over 1.5 total bases.
Morton struggled with his curveball command early in the season, found a groove midway through the year, and then struggled down the stretch. He relied on his curveball (38%) at a career-high rate, the continuation of a long trend for the veteran righty:
His curveball usage in the second half crossed 40%. The Phillies ranked seventh against curveballs on a per-pitch basis this season, and Morton doesn't have a Plan B if the curve isn't working.
I expect both managers to use their bullpens aggressively in an elimination game with two concerning starters on the mound. While they would prefer if these starters could turn over a lineup twice and then hand it to their respective bullpens, Jake Odorizzi for Atlanta and Kyle Gibson or Bailey Falter for Philadelphia could be called upon if either starter falters early.
I would need something closer to +119 (45.6% implied) to back the Phillies, compared to my projection at +110. The best available price is +114, and the number may get there before the first pitch, so I'll continue to monitor the market.
I see value in the first half total, which I projected at 5.01. You can bet the first five innings (F5) Over 4.5 to -121 and play against the least effective pitchers who are likely to take the mound in Game 4.
Even though both teams sit in their lesser offensive split, there's enough value at that number to justify a wager against these starting pitchers. And the full game total aligns more closely with my projection.
Astros vs. Mariners, 4:07 p.m. ET
Lance McCullers Jr. vs. George Kirby (full projections here)
Lance McCullers Jr. (3.57 xERA, 3.57 xFIP) spent most of this season recovering from a strained flexor tendon but was electric in his return and increasingly dominant in September, as he increasingly relied on his slider — at the expense of his curveball — to a significant degree:
He made a similar adjustment midway through last season — then switched back to the curveball again. McCullers posted a 3.08 xFIP over five starts in September, following a 3.3 xFIP in the second half of the 2021 season.
He owns a career .640 OPS allowed in 110 plate appearances against current Mariners players. Still, the Mariners' had the third-best offense against sliders and the 29th-ranked offense against curveballs on a per-pitch basis this season. McCullers would be wise to flip back to the curve yet again.
It's worth noting that his curveball — and overall pitch mix — generates reverse splits. McCullers has been more effective against lefties (3.13 xFIP) than righties (3.73 xFIP) throughout his career; however, those numbers have normalized since last season — once the slider came into the picture.
Similarly, George Kirby (3.31 xERA, 3.33 xFIP) fared far better against lefties (.245 wOBA) than righties (.366 wOBA) in his rookie season. He offers a big fastball with excellent command (4.1% walk rate, 6th of 149 qualified pitchers). Still, his secondary stuff rates as below average (98.3 Stuff Plus), and McCullers (103 Stuff Plus) seemingly has both a higher upside and a wider range of outcomes.
I'm assuming that Kirby's 2022 splits are a small sample blip and will eventually normalize. Given the Astros' drastic splits between lefties and righties — particularly during the second half — I'm not surprised that the Mariners opted for Kirby over Robbie Ray in a must-win game.
The run-scoring environment in Seattle plays about seven percent below the league average, and I projected Saturday's total at 6.4 runs. I bet the Under 7 at open at plus money and like it to -112, but you'll need to wait for a price to come back into range.
I'll also wait for slightly better prices on the Astros' moneyline — as Seattle prepares to host its first baseball playoff game since 2001. No offense to the Mariners' fanbase — I'm sure the environment will be raucous — but Houston is looking to clinch its sixth consecutive ALCS appearance and spoil the party.
You can bet the Astros' full game moneyline to -104, or the F5 line to -110, with either bet representing an edge of at least two percent compared to my projections (-113 and -119, respectively).
New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Guardians, 7:37 p.m. ET
Luis Severino vs. Triston McKenzie (full projections here)
I expect a pitcher's duel from Saturday's starting pitching matchup between Luis Severino (2.94 xERA, 3.38 xFIP) and Triston McKenzie (3.54 xERA, 3.77 xFIP).
McKenzie made considerable strides in the second half of the season (2.34 ERA, 3.30 xFIP, 22.2% K-BB%) relative to the first half (3.20 ERA, 4.14 xFIP, 17.4% K-BB% and pitched six shutout innings in Game 2 against the Rays (6 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 8 K).
Triston McKenzie tied the American League record for most consecutive strikeouts with 8.
— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) May 31, 2021
The Yankees ranked first against curveballs, third against fastballs and ninth against sliders on a per-pitch basis this season. Still, McKenzie seemingly has elite stuff, and I believe he's trending toward awards contention next season; I'm just worried that his price will continue to drop with each postseason outing.
Severino has had a tumultuous career — tossing just 18 innings throughout three seasons, from 2019 to 2021. He's healthy now, though, and making up for lost time. He carried his highest average fastball velocity in three years over three separate starts this September:
Still, the right-handed Severino puts the Guardians back into their superior split (11th vs. righties, 27th vs. lefties) and remains susceptible to the longball (1.24 HR/9 in 2022; career 1.94). As a reminder, the team to hit more home run has won about 83% of playoff games in the past six years.
The Guardians retain the superior bullpen, and I would expect Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak to remain available for Game 3, even after tossing around 30 pitches on Friday.
I expect to see another closely contested affair — but one played in 50-degree October temperatures in Cleveland. Thursday's run-scoring environment should track well below the league average — and the park norm — and I projected the totals at 2.93 (F5) and 5.91 (full game), respectively.
You can bet the Under 6.5 down to -112 or the F5 Under 3.5 to -125. And I'd prefer a plus money 6.5 to 7, at -12
I doubt that either side of the moneyline — in either half — comes into play, but I will update this section and add any actionable bets to the Action Network App if anything changes between now and game time.
San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 9:37 p.m. ET
Tyler Anderson vs. Joe Musgrove (full projections here)
Joe Musgrove (3.27 xERA, 3/47 xFIP) caused controversy with his shiny ears in game three against the Mets (7 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 5 K).
His spin rates were up across the board and many — Buck Showalter among them — assumed he was using a sticky substance to manipulate the baseball.
Others like Eno Sarris have pointed out the increased velocity on all of his pitches — likely a byproduct of being amped for a playoff game — and concluded that the increase in spin rate aligned with expectations at the increased velocity.
Andrew McCutchen theorized that Musgrove had used red hot on his ears to give him a slight tingle to stay locked in.
Whatever the case, Musgrove was excellent in that outing and solid in three starts against the Dodgers this season (17 1/3 IP, 15 H, 7 R, 6 BB, 23 K) despite allowing four home runs. Current Dodgers hitters own a .762 OPS against him in 192 plate appearances — with Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy and Justin Turner accounting for most of the damage.
After facing Blake Snell in Game 3, the Dodgers are back in their superior splits against a righty (No. 1 team in baseball vs. RHP), but Musgrove throws six different pitch types. His best path is to avoid throwing fastballs and cutters; the Dodgers were the top team against both offerings on a per-pitch basis this season.
And he'll need to get outs with pitches in the strike zone; the Dodgers offense chases less often (29.4%) than any other team.
Tyler Anderson (3.10 xERA, 4.11 xFIP) was dominated against the Padres in four starts this season (24 IP, 15 H, 5 R, 6 BB, 16 K). His K-BB% (14.7%) hovered around league average, which helps explain the xFIP north of 4. Still, he generated a ton of weak contact and avoided the home run ball.
Typically I would look at a profile like Anderson's — with a .256 BABIP and a 6.4% HR/FB rate — and think, "wow, this guy got lucky." But Anderson has suppressed BABIP for his entire career (.263 career mark).
Among the 140 pitchers who tossed at least 100 innings this season, Anderson had the lowest hard-hit rate (28.5%) and the eighth-lowest barrel rate (4.9%). He's also shown neutral splits for this season and throughout his career. Anderson is a bit of a unicorn, but I tend to trust his xERA as opposed to his xFIP or SIERA (4.04) in terms of rating his true talent level.
His pitch mix primarily involves a four-seamer, cutter, and changeup, and the Padres struggled against fastballs this season (23rd) but ranked as a top-ten unit against both the cutter and change.
So, the Dodgers will look to feast on Musgrove's fastballs while the Padres will try to square up Anderson's secondary stuff.
The Padres' bullpen has been lights-out this postseason, combining for 16 consecutive scoreless innings. I still rate the Dodgers' pen as the slightly better unit, but as I have addressed, their committee approach has seemed a bit clunky in the playoffs; there's always one arm who comes in looking ready to implode.
Ultimately, I don't project value on either side of the moneyline or the total in either half for Game 4.
The Padres are closer to being the value side, but I would be closer to +113 on their F5 line or +117 on their full-game moneyline to place a bet. I'll wait for those targets to come into range.
And I would need -109 or better to play the F5 Over 3.5 (projected 3.84).
Otherwise, I'll pass on betting on this game.
Bets for October 15
- Astros/Mariners, Under 7 (+100, 1u at Fanduel), bet to -112
- Braves/Phillies, Over 4.5 (-118, 0.5u at Fanduel), bet to -121
- Houston Astros F5 (-110, 0.5u at Fanduel), bet to -110
- Yankees/Guardians F5 Under 3.5 (-118, 0.5u at Fanduel), bet to -125
- Yankees/Guardians Under 6.5 (+105, 0.5u at Pointsbet), bet to -112