NLDS Expert Picks: Cardinals-Braves & Nats-Dodgers Betting Predictions for Game 5

NLDS Expert Picks: Cardinals-Braves & Nats-Dodgers Betting Predictions for Game 5 article feature image

Richard Mackson, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Stephen Strasburg

  • See how our experts are playing the betting odds for Wednesday's series-deciding Game 5s of the NLDS: Cardinals vs. Braves and Nationals vs. Dodgers.
  • Below, they examine their favorite over/under, moneyline and first-five-inning picks for tonight.

The MLB Postseason has reached a fever pitch.

Both National League Divisional Series will be settled on Wednesday, with a pair of Game 5s for bettors and fans to enjoy.

The Cardinals and Braves will kick off the slate at 5:02 p.m. ET. Mike Foltynewicz was dialed in for his start in Game 2, but he’ll be up against it against the red-hot Jack Flaherty.

The market makes this game close to a coin flip, but the Braves are the more popular side, attracting close 70% of the bets.

There’s been some big bettors backing the Dodgers, who are a very popular favorite against the Nationals in Game 5. Los Angeles will start young ace Walker Buehler against Stephen Strasburg, but Dave Roberts will also have Clayton Kershaw at his disposal.

According to our data, 71% of the tickets are on Los Angeles.

As for the totals, the Under is the more popular play in each game. Sixty-six percent of the bets are on Under 7.5 in Atlanta and 56% of the tickets are on Under 7 runs in the nightcap.

Here are our staff’s favorite betting strategies for today’s do-or-die games:

St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves

Probable starters: Probable starters: Jack Flaherty (11-8, 2.75 ERA) vs. Mike Foltynewicz (8-6, 4.54 ERA)

  • Cardinals odds: -112
  • Braves odds: -103
  • Over/Under: 7.5
  • First pitch: 5:02 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS

Odds as of Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

Danny Donahue

Popular sides have been good to their backers this postseason. Teams getting more than 50% of bets have gone 11-5 for a 2.2-unit profit (because they’re mostly favorites) and a 13.5% ROI. That’s not been the case in the long term, though.

In our Bet Labs database (since 2005), it’s been teams getting less than 50% of bets that have turned a 13.1% ROI — and this one comes on a 470-game sample.

Some things that improve the contrarian strategy:

  • Teams coming off a win: 156-133 (+48.5u, 16.8% ROI)
  • Favorites: 72-33 (+23.0u, 21.9% ROI)
  • Winner-take-all games: 16-11 (+7.0u, 25.9% ROI).

All three can describe the Cardinals tonight.

The Pick: Cardinals -112

John Ewing

Around the market, the Cardinals are slight favorites vs. the Braves in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. Favorites tend to be the popular side in the playoffs. However, in this winner-take-all showdown a majority of tickets are on Atlanta.

Since 2005, teams getting less than 50% of bets in the playoffs have gone 246-223 (52.5%), returning a profit of $5,975 for a $100 bettor. Favorites in this scenario are an even better 72-33, +23.02 units for a +21.9% ROI.

I’m a Cardinals homer, so I was going to bet St. Louis anyways but now I have even more confidence knowing the public is fading the chalk.

The Pick: Cardinals -112

Sean Zerillo

I projected the Cardinals as a -106 favorite in this game and as a -122 favorite in the first five innings (F5).

While I don’t see a ton of actual line value on the redbirds, I do see a ton of theoretical line value on the road team.

Game 5 is a rematch from Game 2 when the Cardinals closed as a -113 favorite and -138 F5 favorite. Yet their moneyline for tonight is at -105, and their F5 moneyline stands at -110.

Does one excellent effort from Mike Foltynewicz, versus an average Jack Flaherty start mean that we should evaluate the pitchers differently than we did five days ago?

Playing the Cardinals at -110 on the F5 moneyline, I see a 2.5% gap in expected value from my projection and a 5.6% adjustment from their Game 2 price.

Also note that home teams are overvalued in winner-take-all postseason baseball games, with a 56-58 record.

The Pick: Cardinals F5 Moneyline -110

Washington Nationals at Los Angeles Dodgers

Probable starters: Stephen Strasburg (18-6 3.32 ERA) vs. Walker Buehler (14-4, 3.26 ERA)

  • Nationals odds: +145
  • Braves odds: -160
  • Over/Under: 7
  • First pitch: 8:37 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS


Alfonso Marquez slightly leans towards to the Over, which isn’t ideal for a winner-take-all game as I tend to look Under first in these spots since all hands will be on deck from a pitching perspective.

The good news is that we may get some shadows early on, which should negate some of the impact that Blue has on the game.

If you’re going to take on this Dodgers lineup, you’re best served doing it with a southpaw or a right-hander with reverse splits. Stephen Strasburg, who owns a minuscule 0.64 ERA in 28 postseason innings, first that mold.

Walker Buehler, meanwhile, has allowed three hits, no earned runs and has racked up 15 strikeouts in his last two postseason appearances — Game 1 of this series and the World Series last year. The 25-year-old is normally terrific at the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium and he’s taking on a lineup that does its best work against lefties.

I expect both starters to pitch very well early and am rolling with the Under 3.5 Runs in the First 5 Innings. That should help us deal with the volatility of these bullpens, as we have no idea what to expect from Clayton Kershaw, Patrick Corbin or basically anybody else that may come on in relief.

The Pick: F5 Under 3.5 Runs

Mark Gallant

Tonight’s Nats-Dodgers line has ballooned up 20 cents since opening, making Cy Young candidate Strasburg a +156 pooch against Walker Buehler – who will surely also see some Cy Young votes. Nevertheless, I do believe it’s time for buyback.

Many-a-trend point to the Nationals on my live odds page, including several contrarian playoff Bet Labs systems. Washington is historically bad-news-bears come playoff season, but at +156, I’m willing to be one of the 29% of bettors who think they finally make it to an NLCS.

I also think there will be runs’a’plenty… or at least eight runs. Just over one-third of bettors are on the over, which makes this game a match for my “Contrarian Playoff Overs” system.

If the under is getting 50% or bets or less, it’s cashed at a 62% rate in the playoffs. Playoff games often have two good pitchers facing off against each other and, not surprisingly, people expect those games to be low scoring.

However, this had led to a strong contrarian edge for over bettors.

The Picks: Nationals (+156) and Over 7 (-113)

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