MLB Playoff Odds, Expert Picks & Projections for Padres vs. Phillies & Astros vs. Yankees (October 23)
Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images. Pictured: Lance McCullers Jr.
- The championship series continue on Sunday as the Phillies and Astros have opportunities to win and advance to the World Series.
- With both series in action, Sean Zerillo dives into his projections and shares where he has found the biggest edges in various markets.
- Check out his picks and analysis below.
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 Sunday?
Series Moneyline Corner
First, let’s take a look at my updated projected series prices for both the ALCS and NLCS before Sunday’s games:
Only two MLB teams – the 2004 Red Sox and the 2020 Astros – have ever overcome a 3-0 deficit to force a Game 7. Still, the best number I could find on the Yankees‘ series price and pennant odds was +2000 (4.76% implied) at DraftKings – roughly a half percent short of my break-even price.
You can find a minuscule 0.15% perceived edge on the Astros (-2200, or 95.65% implied) at FanDuel. I usually wouldn’t play them past -1515 (93.8%) compared to my series projection. And even then, that’s a ton of juice to pay compared to playing their moneyline in each remaining game.
The Padres are listed as high as +650 (13.3% implied), down 3-1, below both my break-even price of +663 and my price target of +801 (11.1%).
You can find the Phillies at a slight perceived edge at -650 at DraftKings. Still, I would need -562 (84.9%) to consider betting them at this stage.
Padres vs. Phillies, 2:37 p.m. ET
Yu Darvish vs. Zack Wheeler (full projections here)
Game 5 of the NLCS is a rematch of Game 1, with Zack Wheeler (3.10 xERA) facing Yu Darvish (3.49 xERA).
Before the series opener, I noted Wheeler’s late-season velocity uptick, which has continued into the playoffs. Wheeler sat at 97.2 mph in Game 1 – 1.3 mph above his 2022 regular season average but in line with his 2021 average when he contended for a Cy Young and posted a 2.79 xERA.
The Padres’ offense struggled against the fastball this season (23rd on a per-pitch basis), and Wheeler dominated with his four-seamer in Game 1, consistently getting ahead of hitters and setting up his curveball and slider for pitcher’s counts, with occasional usage on strike one in subsequent at-bats.
Zack Wheeler, Pretty 81mph Curveball. 🌈
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 19, 2022
Wheeler is a complete pitcher. He can paint the corners with his fastball or elevate the pitch for a swing-and-miss. And he can either throw his breaking balls both for strikes or use them as out pitches in the shadow of the zone.
And his ability to generate called strikes against the Padres is crucial. After the trade deadline, San Diego had the lowest Swing Rate (45%) and the highest Called-Strike Rate (17%). They also had the lowest First-Pitch Strike Rate (58.7%), so if Wheeler can keep them behind in the count with the fastball – and avoid walks – they could struggle to score.
Darvish was nearly as dominant as Wheeler in that Game 1 outing but made one mistake. He went with a fastball (28%), slider (28%), and cutter (27%) focused gameplan against the Phillies – and had success with all three of those pitch types – but only generated one whiff – and zero called strikes – on 16 curveballs, sinkers, and splitters.
Darvish’s Game 1 mix aligned with his pitch usage in 2022. He has always had a home run problem (career 13.1% HR/FB rate, 1.13 HR/9) but was able to suppress both BABIP (.250, vs. .281 career) and the long ball (1.02 HR/9, 9.6% HR/FB rate) this season. Darvish has allowed six solo home runs in the playoffs, and with slightly worse sequencing luck, we would say he’s getting shelled this postseason.
I viewed 2022 Wheeler as a superior pitcher to 2022 Darvish, but I think Wheeler is closer to his peak 2021 form, while Darvish’s 2022 stats have a bit of luck baked into them. The Phillies also have the superior lineup to take advantage.
In the bullpens, the Padres should have everyone available – and fresh – aside from Nick Martinez.
The Phillies are thriving but playing with fire. Zach Eflin pitched a second consecutive day, while Connor Brogdon and Brad Hand posted heavy workloads on Saturday. Jose Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez also had stressful, high-pitch outings on Friday, and you have to wonder how long their bullpen can avoid a meltdown.
While I don’t see value on either side of the full game moneyline, we have bet Wheeler’s first five innings (F5) line throughout the playoffs, including as an underdog in Game 1.
I would bet Wheeler F5 again up to -140 (58.3% implied). I’m also interested in betting an F5 Over 3 up to -126.
However, I don’t see any value concerning the full game side or total markets.
Astros vs. Mariners, 7:07 p.m. ET
Lance McCullers Jr. vs. Nestor Cortes Jr. (full projections here)
Nestor Cortes (2.70 xERA) finished off the Guardians on three days’ rest on Tuesday and will hope to keep the Yankees season alive yet again, but on regular rest this time.
Still, Cortes will see a severe downswing in matchup quality, going from a bottom-five offense vs. lefties to a top-two unit (124 wRC+) which destroyed southpaw pitching after the trade deadline (146 wrC+) and has a multi-year track record of beating up on lefties.
Astros hitters own a 1.040 OPS against Cortes over 59 plate appearances (5 BB, 11 K, 5 HR allowed). Cortes primarily features a sinker/cutter/slider mixture, and while the Astros finished as a top-three offense against fastballs, they rated around league-average against sliders and 27th against cutters.
Martin Maldonado could be sneaky for player prop purposes; he’s far better against lefties than righties and has shown success against sinkers and cutters.
Lance McCullers Jr. (3.57 xERA) will hope to keep the Yankees’ offense in check with increased slider reliance.
Before his ALDS start, I noted McCullers’ increased reliance on his slider while posting a 3.08 xFIP over five starts in September. He used the slider 52% of the time against the Mariners – a career-high.
Lance McCullers, Disgusting 83mph Slider. 🤮
20 inches of horizontal break pic.twitter.com/ui2gF3pXLC
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 15, 2022
The Yankees’ offense ranked second against sliders on a per-pitch basis this season – while the Mariners ranked 20th – so perhaps this is the matchup they need to get back into the series.
The production gap between Aaron Judge (+29 Run Value against sliders) and any other hitter against the slider (Manny Machado +17) was more expansive than between first and second place against any other pitch type. On a per-pitch basis, Matt Carpenter also had good numbers against sliders.
I’m unsure how to measure McCullers’ splits moving forward, however. He’s always carried reverse splits, but that was primarily because of his sweeping curveball, which was more effective against lefties than righties. This new slider looks like hell, no matter where you stand in the batter’s box.
Bryan Abreu (Houston) has worked two out of three days; otherwise, both bullpens appear well-rested headed into Game 4.
I’m betting on the Astros if the lines come up just a bit higher. I’d need around +110 to play Houston’s F5 line and closer to +112 for the full game.
Despite the potential split issue for Cortes, and the pitch mix matchup for McCullers, I like the Under in Game 4. Chilly fall temperatures and wind blowing in from left field should have the park playing more than 10 percent below its typical run-scoring environment.
I projected the total at 5.94 and would bet Under 6.5 to -111. You can also play an F5 Under 3.5 to -115 (projected 3.13).
Expect a quick hook for Cortes if he gets into trouble, and look for live unders (specifically 7.5).
And keep an eye on the unders for Cortes’ props too.
Bets for October 23
- Astros/Yankees, F5 Under 3.5 (-115, Risk 0.5u at FanDuel), bet to -115
- Astros/Yankees, Under 6.5 (+100, 1u at BetMGM), bet to -111
- Philadelphia Phillies F5 (-135, Risk 1u at Pointsbet), bet to -140