MLB Playoff Picks, Betting Predictions: Our Best Bets for Dodgers vs. Braves Game 4 (Thursday, Oct. 15)

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Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Marcell Ozuna

  • Looking to bet Thursday night's NLCS Game 4 between the Braves and Dodgers? We've got you covered.
  • We're on a side, total and team total ahead of this pivotal playoff game.

As of the time of writing, two starting pitchers have been confirmed today … which would be fine if there weren’t two games to be played.

Nonetheless, our experts have found picks worth making on tonight’s Dodgers vs. Braves Game 4 — the one in which we know the starters (at least we think we do — this is Postseason baseball, after all).

Let’s take a look at how they’re betting the NLCS matchup.


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.


Sean Zerillo: Braves Moneyline (+199) vs. Dodgers

  • Recommendation: Wait for odds to become available
  • +195 odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • First pitch: 8:08 p.m. ET

If Kershaw’s back is right, and he pitches to his standards, the Dodgers should be fine — so this matchup really comes down to Braves’ starter Bryse Wilson, and his fastball command.

A former fourth-round pick, Wilson was underdrafted due to signability concerns — but the Braves convinced him to join the organization with a well-above-slot $1.2 million bonus.

Wilson throws five pitches (fastball, sinker, changeup, curveball, slider), and both his curveball and slider returned a positive pitch value in his limited 2020 sample.

He had a lot of minor league success, blowing through A-ball in 2017 (3.20 FIP, 3.76 K/BB), Double-A ball in 2018 (2.73 FIP, 3.42 K/BB), and Triple-A in 2019 (3.68 FIP, 4.54 K/BB), but Wilson has yet to carry the full weight of that performance to the big leagues.

His start against the Marlins on Sept. 22 (5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K) was his best to date, but Wilson also hasn’t pitched since Sept. 27, when he was lifted after three innings against the Red Sox.

He has a bulldog mentality on the mound, and goes right at hitters with his fastball, using it aggressively in the zone. It’s exactly what you want to see. There is no place for fear on a postseason pitching mound:

If Wilson doesn’t have command over his fastball in the first inning, it could be another long night for Braves pitching.

 

Still, I would bet the Braves moneyline down to +199, a 3.5% edge relative to my projection.

BJ Cunningham: Braves Team Total Over 3.5 (+104)

Kershaw has been really good again in 2020, posting a 2.16 ERA and a 3.05 xFIP. He has been on point with his pitch arsenal, allowing a wOBA under .290 with each pitch.

Over the past few years his fastball has lost a lot of velocity, going from an average of 94.2 mph in 2015 down to 91.8 mph this season. However, that big dip in velocity hasn’t seemed to make a difference on its effectiveness, as it’s allowing only a .203 average to opposing hitters in 2020.

If you want to nitpick, the one thing Kershaw struggled with this year is the long ball. His HR/9 rate came in at 1.23 for the season — that’s the second-highest of his career, with 2019 being the highest. Back spasms forced Kershaw to get scratched in Game 2, so it’s hard to imagine he’ll be completely healed in two days’ time.

Atlanta had the best offense in baseball during the regular season, and it showed in the first two games of this series. The Braves led MLB in wOBA at .355 and in wRC+ at 126.

The Braves have the best 1-2-3 hitters in baseball in Ronald Acuna, Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, who have combined for 45 home runs and 138 RBIs and all have a wOBA over .400 this season.

Most of the Braves success this season came against right-handed pitching, with a .363 wOBA, but they’ve been solid against lefties as well, with a .324 wOBA. The Braves are also the best fastball-hitting team in baseball this season, so Kershaw will have to utilize his off-speed pitches a lot in Game 4.

I have the Braves projected for 3.65 runs tonight, so I’ll take over 3.5 runs at plus-money for the best offense in baseball.

[Bet $1 at BetMGM and win $100 if there’s a home run hit in this game tonight.]

Danny Donahue: Dodgers vs. Braves Under 9 (-105)

Despite Games 2 and 3 posting 15 and 18 runs, respectively, Game 4’s opening total of 9.5 didn’t last very long into Thursday, even though bets are close to split as of 11:30 a.m. ET.

But while only 48% of tickets have landed on the under, they’ve generated almost all of the early money (98%) hitting the total.

To be fair, I expect both of those figures to come down as first pitch approaches and more public bettors make their way to this game. I don’t necessarily, however, expect the discrepancy between bets and money on the under to disappear.

For one, I think recency bias is playing too big a role in this number — one that our projections, compiled by Sean Zerillo, peg at just 8.36.

And while getting in on the sharp action and taking an inflated price is enough for me, what I’m really hoping for is a boost from Mother Nature — assuming Globe Life Field continues its roof-open streak into this game.

Winds are expected to be blowing straight in from center at 13-15 mph throughout the game, which is a simple recipe for the under, historically speaking.

In our database (since 2005), MLB games played in winds of 5+ mph blowing in from centerfield have gone 940-766-88 (55.1%) to the under.

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