MLB Playoff Predictions | Odds, Picks for World Series, Pennant, Wild Card Round, More
Getty Images. Pictured: Bryce Harper, Ronald Acuna Jr., David Peralta and Aaron Judge.
The 2022 MLB Postseason opens on Friday with four Game 1s. While there will be plenty of opportunities to bet on those individual games and more, right here we're focused on futures. Before the postseason begins, there's a plethora of betting options in that market, from World Series odds to series prices, props and more.
Included below are picks on two of the four series that open Friday: Phillies vs. Cardinals and Rays vs. Guardians. We have futures picks on the Braves, too, as well as one quirky longshot prop that's worth a small investment.
Here are our favorite futures bets to make ahead of the Major League Baseball playoffs.
MLB Odds & Picks
Phillies Over Cardinals (+115)
Odds via DraftKings
Charlie DiSturco: The Philadelphia Phillies have the disadvantage of playing the Wild Card series in St. Louis, but that’s about the only negative I foresee.
Let’s start with the biggest edge in this series: starting pitching.
Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola are as good a 1-2 punch in baseball as anyone, and Ranger Suarez has quietly been solid (3.77 xERA, 34.9% hard hit rate) behind the duo. Wheeler returned from injury two weeks ago and has given up just one run over 15 innings since, while Nola has a 2.36 ERA from September on.
They’ll likely match up with a combination of Jose Quintana, Miles Mikolas, Adam Wainwright, Jordan Montgomery and Jack Flaherty.
Negative regression was inevitable for Wainwright, who has just one start since September with fewer than four earned runs. Still, his xERA is nearly a run higher than his ERA at 4.52, his xSLG is up to .419 and he ranks in the bottom 1 percent of all pitchers in whiff rate.
Montgomery has been the best St. Louis starter (3.11 ERA) but he has some alarming metrics as well (.258 xBA, .400 xSLG). Flaherty has made just nine starts, but has a 3.86 ERA since the All-Star break while Mikolas’ ERA has skyrocketed nearly two runs compared to his dominant first half.
Aside from pitching, the Phillies offense fares better, too. Over the last 30 days, the Phillies rank seventh in wRC+ while St. Louis is down at 18th.
Aside from Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, the offense is not a huge threat. They don’t strike out much and are very disciplined at the plate, doing most of their damage by getting on base for their superstar duo.
And if that’s not enough for you, over the last 30 days, the Phillies bullpen is 11th in xFIP while St. Louis is 27th.
This series screams Phillies. At plus money, they’re an auto play and I would even consider adding some 2-0 sweep at +290.
Anthony Dabbundo: The Phillies are a flawed baseball team as you go further down the roster and can expose their lacking bullpen and starting rotation depth. But in a shorter series, Philadelphia is as dangerous as any team in the entire sport because of Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.
Since returning from the injured list, Wheeler has pitched 15 innings with 15 strikeouts, one walk and one run allowed in three starts. Nola pitched to a 2.36 ERA in September and October. The two have elite command and J.T. Realmuto is elite at taking away the running game and neutralizing some of the Cardinals' team speed.
Philadelphia has no more than three or four reliable relievers and the Cardinals' advantage in this series comes from its starting pitching and bullpen depth. But as of now, Philadelphia will have clear advantages in the first two games against a Cardinals lineup that will be in its worse offensive split against right-handed pitching.
There's also the schedule strength reality of the Cardinals metrics. St. Louis finished just four games above .500 in games not against NL Central opponents. Since 2019, only one central division team has won a series in the MLB playoffs. The divisions are a combined 1-10 in wild card games and full playoff series.
11 years after the Cardinals knocked the Phillies out of the 2011 MLB playoffs, the Phillies get revenge and win this series. It's close to a coin flip series because of the Cardinals potential game three advantage. I will take anything plus-money on the Phillies.
Nicholas Martin: Since Rob Thomson took over as manager, the Phillies have played to a record of 64-44, which was a better winning percentage than the Cardinals posted during that span. And that's all while playing in the NL East, which cumulatively posted 36 more wins than the depleted NL Central.
Therefore it's easy to make the case that although the Cards won 93 games, these teams actually achieved fairly even.
Beyond that, a three-game wild card series sets up more favorably for the Phillies, who have three-rock solid starting options in Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Ranger Suarez in Game 3 if it gets there.
Compare that to the Cardinals staff and Philly holds a starting pitching edge for the series.
Since September the Phillies have hit to a team wRC+ of 104 compared to the Cardinals' 98, which has come with Bryce Harper playing far below his top level.
And beyond that, Philadelphia's traditionally poor bullpen has solidified since the start of September, pitching to an xFIP of 3.75 compared to the Cardinals' 4.23. I would not try to argue the Phillies actually hold a bullpen edge over St. Louis, but this is likely considered the Cardinals' biggest edge in the series and may be being exaggerated.
A price of +115 is putting a ton of weight on the Cardinals holding home field advantage in this series — likely too much. I like a play on the Phillies to upset St. Louis here.
Jules Posner: Although the emotional appeal of Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina in their potential last playoff appearance together is a great story, that story may end early.
Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola are going to be a tough 1-2 combination to beat in a short series. Despite having a 3.84 road ERA, Wheeler has posted a 3.15 FIP and a 3.00 xFIP. Statistically, Nola has been even better on the road.
Although the Phillies' bullpen has a bad reputation, they've been a much stronger unit overall than the Cards and have had a much tougher schedule overall.
The Phillies are in plus money as underdogs for the Wild Card Round and that is an excellent value for a series that might be more of a coinflip than people realize.
Rays Over Guardians (+108)
Odds via FanDuel
Collin Whitchurch: The Guardians are rolling into the postseason, but I was a little surprised to see them favored over Tampa Bay in this wild-card series.
The Rays have a couple of significant advantages coming into this series, most specifically the left-handed options they can throw at Cleveland's lineup.
The Guardians are the worst offensive team to qualify for the postseason by wRC+, but it becomes even more stark when they face southpaws. Their season-long wRC+ against lefties is 84 — 16 percent below league average and ahead of only the Diamondbacks, Pirates and Marlins in all of baseball.
The Rays will throw lefty ace Shane McClanahan in Game 1. This much we know. Behind him, they'll have another lefty — the underrated Jeffrey Springs — ready to go in Game 2 or potentially and if necessary, Game 3.
Tampa's most dominant relievers are right-handed, but expect to see a lot of Brooks Raley and Garrett Cleavinger in key spots, as they're the two southpaws Kevin Cash is likely to trust when big outs are needed.
There's going to be a strong "nobody believes in us" mentality in Cleveland's clubhouse, but there's plenty of reason for that lack of belief. The Guardians went 47-29 against the AL Central this year with a +80 run differential. Against the rest of the league? Just 45-41 with a -16 run differential. They did go 4-2 against the Rays this year, but three of those games (and two of those wins) came in late September when neither team had much to play for.
I like the Rays to come out of the AL Wild Card Round at plus money. So long as it's in positive territory, it has good value.
Phillies Pennant (+2000)
Odds via Caesars
Sean Zerillo: Four teams— the Astros, Braves, Dodgers, and Phillies — offer value to win their respective pennants.
You can bet Houston at +175 at DraftKings – which would be my cutoff price target. I would need slightly better odds to play either the Yankees (+210 at FanDuel) or Rays (+1000 at Caesars) in the American League. The FanGraphs projection would target Tampa Bay.
The Dodgers (+175 at DraftKings) may offer a solid hedge relative to my current position on Atlanta; however, I can wait until that anticipated NLCS to bet the Dodgers' series price; and the FanGraphs projection is far lower on the Dodgers' chances, relative to the other half of the bracket. Either the Mets or Padres are legitimate challengers in a five-game divisional series.
I show a slightly more substantial edge on the Braves (+260 at Caesars) than the Dodgers. And the FanGraphs projection agrees with that assessment too. If you don't have a future on the Braves, consider betting their pennant odds down to +240.
The Phillies (+2000 at Caesars) are the best value bet on the board, and I'm four percent lower on them than the FanGraphs projection. You can play Philadelphia down to +1625, at a two percent edge compared to my number.
Braves World Series (+600)
Odds via Caesars
Mike Ianniello: The Atlanta Braves came into the year as the defending World Series Champions and with a massive target on their back. All they did was rattle off 101 wins and secured their fifth-straight division title. Over the last 50 games of the season, the Braves finished with a ridiculous .720 winning percentage, the best mark in the league.
I think you can argue this Braves team is even better than last year’s title winners. Their rotation last year was made up of Max Fried, Ian Anderson and Charlie Morton.
Fried and Morton are back, with Fried looking even more dominant this year. Spencer Strider and Kyle Wright are both upgrades over Anderson, despite his heroics in the playoffs. If they do get into trouble, they have much more depth with Jake Odorizzi, as well as Anderson still in the minors.
The Braves finished 19th in bullpen xFIP last season but finished the 2022 season ranked fifth. They added Kenley Jansen this offseason and Raisel Iglesias at the trade deadline.
Obviously, the offense lost Freddie Freeman who was the heart and soul of the team, but they added Matt Olson and Ronald Acuna Jr., the latter of whom you'll remember missed the entire postseason last year.
Last year’s squad finished the regular season with a .323 wOBA and ranked 12th in the league with 98 wRC+. Well, this team registered a .329 wOBA, the third best in the league, and a 110 wRC+. They mashed 243 home runs on the year; only the Yankees had more.
Atlanta will have home-field advantage to play the Cardinals or the Phillies in the Division Series, two teams they combined to go 15-11 against. Following that is a probable rematch against a Dodgers team they proved they could beat last year, moving on after six games.
No team has been able to repeat as champions since the 1998, 1999 and 2000 Yankees. But with a +600 price for a team that knows what it takes, and I believe is better than last year’s squad, I think that the Braves are the best value on the board for a World Series future.
Will Boor: No team has gone back-to-back as World Series champions since the Yankees won three in a row in 1998-2000. Repeating as champions is hard, but the Braves are playing as well as anyone in baseball and boast a loaded roster.
The Braves went 21-10 in September/October and strung together five-straight winning months to clinch their fifth consecutive NL East title. Not only did the Braves win 100 games for the first time since 2003, but they have experience winning in October and have added firepower to make another deep run.
The loss of Freddie Freeman hurts, but Matt Olson helps fill that void and the emergence of both Spencer Strider and Michael Harris can't be understated. Oh, and don't forget about Ronald Acuna Jr., who missed last year's World Series run due to injury.
In addition to the names mentioned above, Austin Riley took a step forward this year as he hit a career high 38 homers, reduced his strikeout percentage and increased his walk percentage. Dansby Swanson also set career highs in hits, stolen bases and RBI. Simply put, this lineup is stacked top to bottom and finished second in the National League in runs per game.
As for the pitching staff, the Braves had the second lowest ERA in the NL and Strider provides another high-quality arm that Atlanta didn't have a season ago.
Strider pitched to a 2.67 ERA (.240 xERA) this season and ranked in the 96th percentile in xERA/xwOBA. However, he finished the season on the injured list. Strider is expected to pitch in the postseason, but obviously nothing is a given. If healthy, that’ll give the Braves’ rotation a big boost.
Without Strider, Max Fried headlines the staff. The lefty pitched to a 2.86 xERA and ranked in the 90th percentile or better in the following categories: average exit velocity, hard-hit%, barrel% and chase rate.
After the starters, the Braves boast a bullpen that finished second in the NL in ERA, WHIP and batting average against. Kenley Jansen will get the ball in the ninth and he's coming off a season in which he led the National League in saves and reached the 40-save plateau for the fourth time in his career.
The Braves feature one of the most complete rosters in baseball, have experience playing deep into October and have been red hot for months. At +600, it's impossible to pass on betting the Braves.
Postseason Home Run Leader: George Springer (+5000) / Cody Bellinger (+10000)
Odds via Caesars
Jim Turvey: OK, let's start by noting that that this is a patently absurd market. I took the time to calculate the hold at Caesars — which is the lone book offering this bet as of this writing — and it was 45.42%. They don't have a vomit emoji strong enough for that.
So with that in mind, this is more about having a little fun than finding real true value because in a market with a 45.42% hold, good luck finding true value.
As such, I have a pair of relative longshots.
For reference, the favorites in this market are Aaron Judge at +600 then Yordan Alvarez and Austin Riley at +1000. In a pool of more than 150 potential options, those odds aren't going to cut it. So let's go over these two names instead.
Springer gets the "bonus" of playing in the Wild Card Round, so if the Jays go on enough of a run to make this bet feasible, he'll have an extra 2-3 games on some of his competition at the top of the market. He's also no stranger to the postseason, as his 19 career postseason dingers already rank in the top five (!) all-time.
And none of that group has done it in fewer PA. The Rogers Centre is a great spot for home runs, and if the Jays make it through to the DS, he's no stranger to pulling a ball into the Crawford Boxes in Houston. At 50-1, it's as close to value as you can find in this market.
The second name here is a bit more of a longshot, both literally and figuratively. This is a gentleman with an OPS+ of 63 in the past two regular season, with a batting average low enough to make him a part-time player every now and then.
BUT, there are a few things to like. For one, he plays for the team that everyone agrees is the best bet to be playing the longest, so he should get plenty of games. Two, should the Dodgers live up to expectations and make that run, they should see plenty of righties.
If we advance the favorites in this hypothetical, they'd draw the four-righty rotation of the Mets and the three-righty-one-Max-Fried rotation of Atlanta.
Finally, we've seen a bit of Playoff Cody before. Last year, Bellinger was even worse during the regular season, but he found a bit of life come October, with a .353/.436/.471 slash line (albeit in 39 PA).
Bellinger is certainly no stranger to the postseason at this point, and we're really only one really long pandemic removed from him being a 47-home run MVP!
At 100-1, it's a fun bet to put a very small amount on.