MLB Playoff Betting Picks: Astros vs. Athletics, Yankees vs. Rays (Monday, Oct. 5)
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Kiermaier and Brock Brosseau
- Looking for betting picks for Monday's Astros vs. A's and Yankees vs. Rays ALDS matchups? You're in the right place.
- The Atheltics and Yankees are favored in their respective matchups today, but our experts are finding more value on the plus-money sides.
- Check out our moneyline and over/under picks for each game below.
With a staggered start to the MLB Division Series round, only the ALDS matchups will be getting underway Monday. But while there may be only two games from which bettors can choose, our staff has located three bets with value.
Here’s how we’re betting Astros vs. A’s and Yankees vs. Rays.
Advanced Stats Glossary
FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck. xFIP is a regressed version of FIP that adjusts or “normalizes’ the home run component based on park factors.
wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for critical external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average, and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.
wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average is a catch-all hitting metric with more predictive value than on-base percentage. An average MLB hitter can be expected to post a .320 wOBA. xwOBA is a regressed version of wOBA that accounts for variables like park factors.
BJ Cunningham: Astros F5 Moneyline (+112) vs. A’s
McCullers has found his form after a rough start to the season. He missed all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, and it took him a while to find his command again. He’s lowered his xFIP all the way down to 3.35 and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 17.2 innings.
His sinker/curveball combination has been on point this year, allowing a .229 average to opponents this year. Since McCullers’ main three pitches all are moving down in the zone, his ground-ball rate is usually a good indicator of his effectiveness. So far this season, he has 59.7%, which is well above his career average. McCullers should have a good matchup against an A’s lineup that finished the regular season with the 16th-best wOBA (.314) and 15th-best wRC+(101) in MLB.
Bassitt has been a bit fortunate to this point in the season. He has a 2.29 ERA, but his xFIP is up at 4.49. He mainly uses a sinker/cutter combination, but both pitches haven’t been very effective this season (above a .320 wOBA against).
Bassitt hurled seven innings of one-run ball in Game 2 against the White Sox, but he was a bit fortunate as his xFIP for the game was 3.24. Bassitt hasn’t had an xFIP below 4.50 in his career, so I think he’s due for some negative regression in the near future.
Based on how McCullers has performed over the second half of the season, I don’t think he should be an underdog for the first five innings.
Mike Vitanza: Astros vs. A’s F5 Under 4.5 (-124)
Both starting pitchers for Game 1 of the American League Division Series between the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros have been stellar of late.
Oakland starter Chris Bassitt has allowed just one earned run over his last 26.2 innings pitched. His regular season numbers were also very good — over 63 total innings, he pitched to a strong 2.19 FIP and allowed just 0.86 HR/9.
On the other side of this game, Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. has been remarkably similar in his production lately, allowing zero earned runs over his last 17.2 innings. His 3.70 FIP on the season is not quite as strong as Bassitt, but solid nonetheless.
Offensively, neither team has been lighting up the box score lately. Over their past five games, the Athletics are averaging just 4.2 runs per game. The Astros have been even worse, averaging just 3.2 .
Further, neither team hit right-handed pitching very well during the regular season. The Athletics collectively hit to a .318 wOBA overall in such matchups, while the Astros finished with a .315 wOBA (good for 18th and 19th in baseball, respectively).
The recent numbers suggest this game is ripe for the under. I’d rather not leave this up to the bullpen, so I’m playing the F5 total rather than the game. While Oakland’s bullpen has been strong (fifth best in baseball with a 3.64 FIP), the Astros have been a bit more suspect (16th in baseball with a 4.45 FIP).
I’ll be risking a unit at the current number, but I would not bet it any lower than 4.5.
Sean Zerillo: Rays Moneyline (+130) vs. Yankees
Tampa Bay opened as a +130 series underdog to its division rival, despite posting a 8-2 record with a 47-34 run differential in those regular season contests.
I projected the Rays as a 56% favorite for the series — and initially projected them as the favorite in all five games against the Yankees — so I would expect to find value betting the Rays in almost every game, but we’ll still take this series one game at a time.
I do have a +130 series moneyline wager on Tampa Bay, a line which has now moved down to +110, and I would continue to play them down to even money to win this five-game Divisional Series.
However, I also have a Game 1 wager on the Rays at +136 (implied 42.3%), at an 8% edge relative to my projection.
Tampa Bay (+22 defensive runs saved) is the far superior defensive team compared to the Yankees (-4 DRS) — returning positive defensive value at every position except for catcher and third base.
They also have a slightly better bullpen, recording a 4.16 xFIP with a 15.7% strikeout minus walk rate, compared to 4.52 and 13.3% for their opponents — and I project the Rays’ relievers to be about 0.3 runs better, on average, during this series.
The Yankees (116 wRC+) have the superior offense to the Rays (109 wRC+), but they struggled against southpaw pitching in 2020 (97 wRC+) while Tampa Bay excelled (121 wRC+). As a result, Blake Snell has a relatively solid matchup in Game 1 — and the Rays should have an edge late in the series against both Jordan Montgomery and J.A. Happ.
Snell recorded a career-best 3.06 xFIP in 2020, even though his expected ERA (xERA) regressed from 3.03 (top 10%) to 3.98, while maintaining a nasty slider/curveball combination.
Gerrit Cole saw his own xFIP rise by 0.9 runs (2.48 to 3.38) and his xERA increase from 2.41 to 3.13 after joining the Yankees in 2020. His fastball velocity dropped by half a tick, his swinging-strike rate declined by 1.5%, and he threw the ball in the zone less frequently than he did during his dominant 2019 campaign.
All of this is to say that Cole and Snell were very comparable pitchers in 2020, and while the Yankees have the better offense on paper, they struggled a bit with lefties, so the game should be very close through five innings — where I project the Bombers as 52.7% favorites — but the Rays’ ability to mix and match in their bullpen is a late-inning edge.
I would continue to play the Rays down to +114 (implied 47.8%), which represents a 3.5% edfe relative to my projection.