Thursday MLB Playoff Picks for Dodgers vs. Padres

Thursday MLB Playoff Picks for Dodgers vs. Padres article feature image
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Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mookie Betts

Thursday could be the final time in 2020 that we see four MLB postseason contests in one day, as we have four elimination games set for this slate.

In the National League, the Braves and Dodgers will try to close out a sweep, 2-0 series leads over the Marlins and Padres, respectively.

In the American League, both the Astros and Rays will hope to win today and avoid a winner-take-all Game 5 on Friday.

There is plenty of actionable value up for grabs if you approach these games and series on an individual basis, checking both series prices and game moneyline prices between each contest.

As a result, certain playoff series are only worth betting on a game-by-game basis, while others offer more significant value in the series market.

So where can we find actionable value on Thursday?


Dodgers vs. Padres Game 3 Odds

Adrian Morejon vs. Dustin May

Dodgers Odds -195 [Bet Now]
Padres Odds +165 [Bet Now]
Over/Under 9 (-110/-110) [Bet Now]
First Pitch 9:08 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network

Odds as of Thursday morning and via PointsBet, where you can win $125 if the Dodgers get at least 1 hit today.

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Dodgers probability: 61.3% (-159 fair odds)
  • Padres probability: 38.7% (+159)
  • Projected total: 8.47

The Padres managed to get through a nine-inning game using fewer than eight pitchers on Wednesday, which is the closest thing that they will find to a moral victory against the Dodgers.

Down 2-0 in this series, I give the Friars just a 7% chance of completing a comeback and sweeping the next three contests against the club with MLB’s best winning percentage in more than 100 years.

The Padres have managed to survive this deep into the playoffs without the top of their rotation, but the Dodgers’ never-ending depth seems like an utterly overwhelming mismatch for the next 27 innings of baseball, as San Diego’s staff is completely worn down.

Cody Bellinger’s Wednesday night robbery was all but the final nail in their coffin:

21-year-old lefty Adrian Morejon will take the ball with their season on the line.

The Cuban was electric in his second chance with the big club, after reaching the majors last season, posting a 25:4 strikeout to walk ratio in 19.1 innings, with a big fastball (96.6 mph), in addition to a nasty splitter (84 mph, 17%), curveball (81 mph, 14.6%), and slider (85.3 mph, 11.8%).

He has a compact frame with a smooth delivery, but the velocity is eye-popping for a relatively small southpaw, which only makes his splitter more effective:

The Dodgers have a few potential options for Game 4, but the most likely scenario would seemingly be a combination of Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin.

The 24-year-old 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), averaging nearly one strikeout per inning with a sky-high popup rate (12.9%).

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 right-handed Tony Gonsolin (3.80 xFIP in 2020), who has both pitched in the rotation (14 starts) and worked in relief (7 appearances) since joining the big club last year, should also factor into the Game 3 plan.

His swinging-strike rate (13.6%) ranked in the Top 20 amongst starting pitchers this season, just behind Tyler Glasnow (14%) and ahead of Aaron Nola (13.5%).

He ranks in the 81st percentile for fastball velocity (95.1 mph) but the 92nd percentile for fastball spin rate, and he pairs that plus heater with a nasty slider and solid splitter:

Rookie Dustin May (3.98 xFIP) could also factor in, even after tossing a pair of innings in Game 1. His stuff was untouchable, however, and he only threw 27 pitches.

A Gonsolin/May/Urias combination in Game 3 would be extremely difficult for the Padres to overcome.

Recommended Bets

  • TBD


Rays vs. Yankees Game 4 Odds

Ryan Thompson vs. Jordan Montgomery

Rays Odds +120 [Bet Now]
Yankees Odds -140 [Bet Now in NJ!]
Over/Under 8.5 (-125/+105) [Bet Now]
First Pitch 7:10 p.m. ET
TV TBS

Odds as of Thursday morning and via PointsBet, where you can win $125 if the Yankees get at least 1 hit today.

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Rays probability: 52% (-108 fair odds)
  • Yankees probability: 48% (+108)
  • Projected total: 8.29

The Rays will open with Ryan Thompson (3.75 xFIP) on Thursday, and likely piggyback with Ryan Yarbrough (4.33 xFIP) against the Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery (3.65 xFIP) in a crucial Game 4.

Tampa Bay’s chances of winning the series improved by 23% to 77% following their Game 3 win, and I would consider betting their series moneyline at -285 or better, which represents a 3% edge relative to my projection.

You can currently bet the Rays at -240 (implied 70.6%) to win the series, and I played them to win another half unit (have 1u at +130 from before Game 1).

Furthermore, the Rays offer betting value yet again in Game 3, listed as an underdog in the betting market when I show them as a small favorite. You can play the Rays F5 moneyline down to +106, and their full game moneyline down to +114.

Montgomery was excellent for the Yankees this season, showing that he is all the way back from 2018 Tommy John surgery. He owned a career-best fastball velocity (92.5 mph), which he paired with a solid changeup (25.6%, 83.3 mph), curveball (22.1%, 80.5 mph), and an occasional cutter (5.6%, 89.5 mph).

Montgomery’s walk rate (4.7%) was tied with Yu Darvish, ranking in the top 12 for starting pitchers, and his 19.7% strikeout-minus-walk rate ranked 28th amongst starters, ahead of both Carlos Carrasco and Zac Gallen (19.6%)

The southpaw offers strong command, but the metrics indicate that he doesn’t have a true signature pitch, even though his curveball (which returned a negative pitch value in 2020) is eye-catching:

Yarbrough is also a southpaw with excellent command — posting the sixth lowest walk rate (4%) amongst pitchers to throw more than 100 combined innings over the past two seasons. That ranks just behind Kyle Hendricks (3.8%) and Zack Greinke (3.6%), and ahead of Hyun-jin Ryu (4.1%).

In fact, Yarbrough is very comparable to Hendricks, aside from his throwing arm, relying on an array of “slower” pitches (averages 87.4 mph on his fastball) in order to deceive hitters, and primarily upon his cutter (36%, 83 mph) and changeup (30%, 78.6 mph):

Most importantly, Yarbrough is a lefty without any platoon split (career .294 wOBA vs. L; .296 vs. R), which allows the Rays to bring him in against virtually any lineup.

Montgomery has shown a noticeable platoon split, however (career .261 wOBA vs. L; .313 vs. R) and the Rays shown have the platoon advantage with their depth and ability and manipulate their lineup.

Recommended Bets

  • Rays F5 (0.5 units, play down to +114)
  • Rays ML (1u, plays down to +106)
  • Rays Series Price (to win 0.5u, play up to -285)

[Bet now at PointsBet and win $125 if the Rays get at least 1 hit tonight.]


Braves vs. Marlins Game 3 Odds

Kyle Wright vs. Sixto Sanchez

Braves Odds -130 [Bet Now]
Marlins Odds +110 [Bet Now]
Over/Under 9 (-105/-115) [Bet Now]
First Pitch 2:08 p.m. ET
TV FS1

Odds as of Thursday morning and via PointsBet, where you can win $125 if the Braves get at least 1 hit today.

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Braves probability: 54.5% (-120 fair odds)
  • Marlins probability: 45.5% (+120)
  • Projected total: 8.59

I set the Braves as a 65% favorite in this series prior to Game 1, and I currently give them a 91% chance to win one of the final three games to advance past the Divisional Round with a commanding 2-0 series lead.

At present, the Marlins’ fair odds to stage a dramatic comeback are +1011, but you are unlikely to find a price better than +950 in the market — and I would need odds closer to +1329 (implied 7%) to consider betting on the Fish to stage that comeback at a 2% edge.

I have the Braves set as a small favorite in Game 3, but as of writing, I don’t see value on either side of the moneyline or total.

However, the Marlins respective F5 (+100) and full game odds (+120) do represent a fair number relative to their projection — there just isn’t enough of a betting edge there for me to make an official play.

I would need +115 or better on the Marlins F5, and +135 or better on the Marlins full-game line in order to make a play at something greater than a three percent edge.

Sixto Sanchez was excellent in his Wild Card start against the Cubs (5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6K), but they were an unfamiliar opponent — and he’ll now face the Braves offense for the third time in just his ninth major league start.

His first outing against the Braves (Sept. 7) was excellent (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K) but Sixto struggled with his command just a couple of weeks later (Sept. 23), in his final start of the regular season (3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 2 K).

Sixto’s average fastball velocity (97.6 mph) ranked third amongst all starting pitchers in 2020, and he is known for his plus command and secondary stuff (changeup, slider):

He is already a top-of-the-rotation arm and a big reason why the Marlins could continue their 2020 success into next season.

Conversely, the Braves’ Kyle Wright — the No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft — is a talented arm who has yet to put his potential together.

He has posted a 6.26 FIP and a 5.33 xFIP over 19 MLB games and 12 starts, with his minor league numbers failing to translate at baseball’s top level.

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

Wright finally put together three consecutive solid outings during his final three regular-season starts, lasting more than six innings in each contest — and it’s possible that the Braves’ high-pedigree rotation is finally coming together when they need it to most.

Recommended Bets

  • Pass

Athletics vs. Astros Game 4 Odds

Frankie Montas vs. Zack Greinke

Athletics Odds -110 [Bet Now]
Astros Odds -110 [Bet Now]
Over/Under 9 (-120/+100) [Bet Now]
First Pitch 3:35 p.m. ET
TV TBS

Odds as of Thursday morning and via PointsBet, where you can win $125 if the Astros get at least 1 hit today.

Model Projection (full projections here)

  • Athletics probability: 50.7% (-103 fair odds)
  • Astros probability: 49.3% (+103)
  • Projected total: 8.05

On the brink of elimination, the Oakland Athletics showed their early-season fight one more time on Wednesday, rallying from a three-run deficit in the late innings to keep their season hopes, and this Divisional Series, alive.

The Astros have yet to announce a Game 4 starter, as Zack Greinke is dealing with “arm soreness,” but they have intentionally kept Cristian Javier out of the first three games of this series, and I suppose that he is the Game 4 starter if Greinke cannot go.

Furthermore, he should be the first man out of the bullpen if Greinke gets lifted early.

The 23-year-old projected as a future No. 4 starter prior to this season, but the early returns have been promising, despite his 4.84 xFIP. Javier’s issue in the minor leagues was command — walking nearly five batters per nine innings at Triple-A in 2019 — but he posted a 54:18 strikeout to walk ratio over 54.1 MLB innings this season while limiting hard contact (90th percentile) with his high-spin curveball (85th percentile) and slider command:

Frankie Montas (4.36 xFIP) was extremely up and down this season for the A’s, but he finished the regular season strong on Sept. 27 (6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 13 K) and proved effective over two innings of an elimination Game 3 against the White Sox.

There is no line yet for this contest, but I would look to play the Astros at +118 or better, or the Athletics at +112 or better — either one of which represents a 3.5% edge relative to my projection

I show the A’s with a 24% chance of winning both of the next two games, and I would consider playing their series price at +350 or better.

Recommended Bets

  • TBD

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