MLB Playoffs Odds, Predictions | NLCS Game 4 Expert Picks for Phillies vs Diamondbacks (Friday, Oct. 20)

MLB Playoffs Odds, Predictions | NLCS Game 4 Expert Picks for Phillies vs Diamondbacks (Friday, Oct. 20) article feature image

Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Bryce Harper

Throughout the Major League Baseball playoffs, I will provide a daily breakdown summarizing my thoughts on 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 find my projections for every MLB game in the Action Network App (on both the PRO Projections tab and the game pages) and our Projections Hub (which you can bookmark).

You can also shop for the best lines on our odds page.

Using my projections, where can we find actionable value on Friday's two LCS matchups?

Series Moneyline Corner

After knotting the ALCS at two games apiece, I moved Houston from roughly a 33% underdog to a 56% favorite between Games 4 and 5. Three separate books reopened the Astros at -130 on the series line, but I would wait for that price to drop down to -120 or -125 to bet the reigning champions to win two of the final three games in their series.

At the same three books, the Phillies are currently sitting at -310, -350 or -375 to win the NL pennant; I would typically want something closer to -295 to add more exposure at this stage. After cashing on the Diamondbacks moneyline in Game 3, I'd rather bet on the Phillies game by game or ride our existing futures from here.

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Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers Game 5

Friday, Oct 20
5:07 p.m. ET
Fox Sports 1
Astros Odds
-102o / -120u
Rangers Odds
-102o / -120u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Justin Verlander vs. Jordan Montgomery (full projections here)

Game 5 of the ALCS is a rematch of Game 1, albeit at a different venue. Still, we have very recent betting market data surrounding these teams and this exact pitching matchup.

The Astros closed as -142 consensus favorites at home (58.7% implied), with the Rangers taking the contest 2-0 at average odds of +120 (45.5% implied). After adjusting for the home park, you would expect to find the Astros in the same pitching matchup around -105, with the Rangers around -115, for Game 5 at Globe Life Field.

And as of writing, that's essentially where the consensus line stands, although you can find plus money on Houston (+102 at FanDuel) if you shop around.

I set the Astros as -135 favorites for Game 1 (57.5%), and I make them +102 underdogs (49.5% implied) for Game 5, so I see the home field adjustment in the market as entirely appropriate and don't see value regarding either side of the moneyline. I would wait for +110 or better to back Houston in Game 5.

Otherwise, much of the analysis I laid out before Game 1 applies again, and I'll do my best to summarize prior thoughts.

I unsuccessfully attempted to attack Jordan Montgomery (career 3.20 xFIP vs. lefties, 4.10 vs. righties) in Game 1 with the Astros' lefties, Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez, who are two of the best left-on-left hitters in baseball. Both posted solid numbers against sinkers and curveballs this season, the primary mix they'll see from Montgomery.

Astros righties who excel against changeups (Mauricio Dubon and Yanier Diaz) struggle with sinkers. And Dusty Baker has been loathe to start Diaz over Martin Maldonado. I'll go back to Alvarez Over 1.5 Bases (+125) on Friday — the same price we got at open in Game 1 (closed +115) — but will avoid betting on the slumping Tucker (3-for-29 this postseason).

Montgomery (26% called-strike plus whiff rate) out-pitched Justin Verlander (19%) in Game 1. Still, I do view a reduced 2023 Verlander (3.69 xERA, 4.56 xFIP, 14.8% K-BB%, 106 Stuff+, 107 Pitching+) as a better pitcher than a peaking Montgomery (4.04 xERA, 4.01 xFIP, 15.2% K-BB%, 94 Stuff+, 95 Pitching+) from a projection standpoint.

Corey Seager matches up exceptionally well against Verlander's three primary pitches (four-seamer, slider, curveball). However, his total bases prop increased from -110 to -125 between Games 1 and 5.

Concerning pitcher props, Verlander strikeouts closed 5.5 (+105 / -135) for Game 1 and opened 4.5 (-160 / +120) for Game 5. His outs recorded prop closed 15.5 (+100 / -130) and reopened 16.5 (-120 / -110).

Montgomery's K prop closed 3.5 (-120 / -110) for Game 1 and opened 3.5 (-130 / +100) for Game 5. His outs recorded prop closed 15.5 (+100 / -130) and reopened 15.5 (-120 / -110).

I didn't bet any of those pitcher props in Game 1. Still, I thought the prices were intriguing as a point of comparison. I would lean toward betting Unders for these starters in a crucial Game 5 where either manager could turn to his bullpen earlier than expected.

Lastly, I set the total at 8.5 runs and would bet Under 9 to -110, assuming that the roof in Arlington is closed for Game 5, unlike in Game 4.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks Game 4

Friday, Oct 20
8:07 p.m. ET
Phillies Odds
-118o / -104u
Diamondbacks Odds
-118o / -104u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Cristopher Sanchez vs. Joe Mantiply (full projections here)

The Diamondbacks will attempt a full bullpen day in Game 4, led by 2022 All-Star reliever Joe Mantiply (3.82 xERA, 4.21 xFIP), a southpaw who will hope to neutralize Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper in the first inning.

Mantiply (career 3.48 xFIP vs. lefties, 4.83 vs. righties) could even extend to face Bryson Stott or potentially Brandon Marsh if he's pitching well — he's tossed as many as three innings this season and recorded at least four outs in seven of his final 11 outings in September, with Arizona pushing for a playoff spot.

Still, Mantiply hasn't been particularly effective against these Phillies hitters (career 1.162 OPS allowed in 33 regular-season plate appearances), and he only recorded one out against six batters — while permitting three runs — in a Game 2 appearance.

Behind Mantiply, Torey Lovullo will have to piece things together, likely using a combination of Slade Cecconi (4.67 xERA, 4.58 xFIP) and Ryne Nelson (5.30 xERA, 5.30 xFIP) as bulk relievers ahead of Arizona's vital late-inning arms.

As a result, the Phillies should have a significant pitching advantage by starting Cristopher Sanchez (3.77 xERA, 3.09 xFIP).

I doubt that Sanchez stays in particularly long against a primarily right-handed Arizona lineup (career 2.03 xFIP vs. lefties, 3.43 vs. righties), however, and he may give way to righty Taijuan Walker (4.42 xERA, 4.83 xFIP) for a turn through the Diamondbacks batting order.

Target Unders for Sanchez, including Under 4.5 Hits (-145) and 2.5 Earned Runs allowed (-180), as opposed to Under 1.5 Walks (-175) or 2.5 strikeouts (+125), both of which he could hit, even in a limited workload.

I'd also gladly bet Sanchez Under 11.5 outs recorded when the line opens; he likely comes out after facing Corbin Carroll a second time.

The Phillies' bullpen ranked 15th with a 4.25 xFIP in the second half and fifth with a 3.73 xFIP in September, compared to marks of 4.52 (23rd) and 4.23 (17th) for the Diamondbacks' relievers.

Pitch modeling metrics also preferred Philadelphia's bullpen in the second half (112 Stuff+, 103 Pitching+ for Philadelphia; 99/99 for Arizona) and September (111/104 for Philadelphia; 100/100 for Arizona).

Offensively, Arizona had better numbers against righties than lefties over the entire season (17th vs. righties, 23rd vs. lefties), but those splits flipped in September (16th vs. lefties, 26th vs. righties). Still, the Phillies have the superior offense, ranking ninth vs. righties in the second half.

I set the Phillies as -128 road favorites for the first five innings (F5) and full game on Friday. Bet the Phillies up to -120 in either half. 

I also set the total at 9.1 runs and would bet Under 9.5 to -110.

We'll stay on brand by betting Bryce Harper to walk (+105) again. He saw 17 pitches on Thursday, and just one was in the strike zone. Arizona's approach couldn't be more evident unless the game is in hand or Harper has the bases loaded.

Harper walked on eight pitches in the seventh inning — all sinkers and curveballs beneath the strike zone, including a swinging strike and three fouls — and four pitches in the ninth inning.

Lovullo will attempt to feed Harper lefties throughout Game 4, so I wouldn't be as aggressive with my price target as in other games, but we have to keep betting this prop with how conservatively they're pitching to him.

Sides and Totals for Friday, October 20

  • Houston Astros / Texas Rangers, Under 9 (-105, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to -110)
  • Philadelphia Phillies (-115, Risk 1u) at BetMGM (bet to -120)
  • Philadelphia Phillies / Arizona Diamondbacks, Under 9.5 (-105, 0.5u) at Caesars (bet to -110)

Prop Bets for Friday, October 20

  • Bryce Harper, Over 0.5 Walks (+105, 0.2u) at DraftKings (bet to -120)
  • Cristopher Sanchez, Under 2.5 Earned Runs Allowed (-180, 0.1u) at DraftKings (bet to -200)
  • Cristopher Sanchez, Under 4.5 Hits Allowed (-145, 0.1u) at Caesars (bet to -160)
  • Yordan Alvarez, Over 1.5 Total Bases (+125, 0.1u) at DraftKings (bet to +115)

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