Wednesday MLB Playoff Betting: Picks, Predictions for Rays vs. Astros, Dodgers vs. Braves (Oct. 14)

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Matt Thomas/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Willy Adames and Brandon Lowe

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Through five LCS games only two teams have experienced a win. But are we in for more of the same tonight?

Our baseball experts have landed on three plays across Wednesday’s two matchups, including one that would probably make the majority of the MLB fanbase quite happy.

Let’s take a look.


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: Dodgers vs. Braves Under 10 (-114)

The moneyline prices for this Game 3 — both F5 and full game — align with my projections, and I don’t see value on either team.

I do show slight value on the under, however, and I would bet under 9.5 at -106 or better, or under 10 at -118 or better.

The Dodgers pushed the Braves bullpen to the brink on Tuesday, forcing Chris Martin and Mark Melancon to pitch for the second consecutive day, following 29 pitches from Tyler Matzek — who has been as dominant as any pitcher in the 2020 playoffs (5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R. 1 BB, 9 K).

Atlanta needs length out of Kyle Wright, who has obviously struggled to this point in his MLB career (5.9 FIP, 5.33 xFIP). But as I discussed on Tuesday, Wright is part of Atlanta’s stable of high-pedigree arms, and the former No. 5 overall pick (2017) has turned in a corner in his past four outings (21 K, 8 BB) — all quality starts — including his playoff win over the Marlins on Oct. 8 (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K).

The righty has a five-pitch mix (fastball, sinker, changeup, curveball, slider), but only the slider has returned a positive pitch value to this point in his career:

You can likely attribute Wright’s late-season success to increased reliance on both his curveball and sinker and a change to his positioning on the mound.

Notice, in the video above, how Wright is positioned all the way on the first-base side of the pitching rubber, to the point where he is almost past the rubber.

Now, here’s a video of Wright from 2019, attempting to throw a sinker to lefty Adam Eaton:

Notice how both his back foot and overall body are much more centered, relative to the plate and pitching rubber?

Wright hasn’t had a ton of MLB success, but he has been downright horrible against left-handed hitters (.305/.406/.576 triple slash, .412 wOBA, 23 K, 20 BB in 29 IP).

Over his past four starts, those numbers have improved dramatically against opposite-handed hitting, and the Vandy product might have finally found his big-league footing — literally.

Dodgers starter Julio Urias, who arrived in the bigs way back in 2016, has been highly effective to this point in his career (3.47 FIP, 4.37 xFIP). Urias also shows reverse splits, meaning that he has been more effective against right-handed hitters (career .281 wOBA) than lefties (.308).

But Urias tweaked his pitch mix in 2020, throwing fewer sliders (-11.8% vs. 2019) and fastballs in exchange for plenty more curveballs (+18.8%), which has served to balance his profile:

The Braves offense has been significantly better against righties (126 wRC+) than lefties (101 wRC+) this season, so perhaps seeing Urias and Kershaw on back-to-back days could throw them into an offensive funk.

That angle lends itself to the under — as does a potentially improved Wright.

But given the Braves’ lack of late-inning relief options for Wednesday, I’ll look to play the middle again, and try to live bet an over 5 after a few well-pitched innings.

[Get +10000 odds on the Dodgers or Braves to hit at least 1 home run tonight.]


BJ Cunningham: Dodgers F5 -0.5 (-129) vs. Braves

Kyle Wright’s 2020 season hasn’t really gone according to plan. Wright has posted a 5.21 ERA and 5.33 xFIP and has had issues with his control. Wright has a staggering 5.68 BB/9 and 1.66 HR/9 rate, which isn’t great for a former fifth-overall pick.

Wright’s issues can’t be narrowed down to one pitch, as he’s struggled with his entire arsenal this year. His sinker has been his best pitch though, allowing just a .200 average to opponents.

His fastball has good velocity, sitting around 96-98 mph, but it’s straight as an arrow, which is probably why it’s been tagged for a .409 wOBA this year.
His slider is pretty slick though, with good late-breaking action and good velocity, so it can be disguised well with his fastball. Even still, he hasn’t found much success with it, allowing a .363 wOBA to opponents. He’ll be in for a world of hurt against this Dodgers lineup that ranked second in MLB against righties and fastballs.

Julio Urias was solid during the regular season, but has really picked up his level of play in the postseason, tossing eight innings of shutout ball so far.
Urias usually uses a fastball/curveball combination, and boy has he been good with it this year. Both pitches have combined to allow only a .151 average to opposing hitters. He’ll need those two pitches to be effective in Game 3, because the Braves are the best team in MLB against fastballs and curveballs.

Still, I think the starting pitching matchup gives the Dodgers a significant edge in this game, so I am going to back LA’s first-five-inning spread of -0.5 at -129.

[Get +10000 odds on the Dodgers or Braves to hit at least 1 home run tonight.]


Michael Arinze: Rays Moneyline (-139) vs. Astros

Karma can be a … well, you know. This offseason, the Houston Astros had to apologize for their actions in a sign-stealing cheating scandal that embroiled Major League Baseball and threatened the sanctity of the game. As one of the leaders of the Astros, 2B Jose Altuve was a central figure in the scandal when suspicions came out about him possibly wearing an electronic device during a game after he implored his teammates not to rip his jersey off following a walk-off home run in the ALCS.

Now Altuve is taking center stage again after making three throwing errors in this series alone when he didn’t have a single one this entire season. Altuve’s errors have been extremely costly as the Rays have repeatedly made the Astros pay by putting up crooked numbers in those innings.

Tonight, Houston will send Zack Greinke to the mound with their playoff hopes on the line. Greinke has dealt with arm soreness which ruled him out of starting earlier in this series.

In his last start, he allowed four runs in 4.2 innings of work against the Oakland A’s. For his career, his teams are 5-10 with him as a starter against the Rays for a loss of -7.8 units. Greinke’s arm injury is certainly a concern and with his fastball already down 2 mph from last year, I’m in no hurry to back him in this spot.

Greinke will be opposed by Tyler Glasnow, who was rumored to be tipping his pitches to Houston in last year’s ALDS round. If you ask me, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cheating scandal didn’t play a part in his demise as well.

What I do know is that Glasnow has a chance tonight to exact his revenge. The Rays have won each of Glasnow’s postseason starts and he was phenomenal in his last outing on two days’ rest, when he pitched 2.1 innings against the Yankees in Game 5 of the ALDS. Houston is really scuffling right now and has scored just five runs in this series against Tampa Bay. No matter what the Astros do, they just can’t seem to buy a hit against a Rays team that ranked fifth in the majors with 24 defensive runs saved.

Teams that start off 0-3 in a playoff series are just 3-10 in Game 4 while underdogs in that same situational spot are just 2-6. It’s clear to me that the baseball gods have spoken on this one.

Astros go home in four.

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