Day one of the MLB postseason is here. Can you believe it? Some big-ticket teams like the Yankees and Astros are already in action in the new Wild Card Series, a best-of-three affair just for 2020. With the stage set, I’ve picked out three of my favorite baseball bets to consider on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins
To me, this pitching matchup between Zack Greinke and Kenta Maeda is getting disrespected. If Cole–Bieber gets a total of six, then this game really should be nearing that too. The fact of the matter is we have a pitcher in Maeda who’s coming off a career year with a ridiculous 2.76 expected ERA, which ranks in the top 8% of the league, and 4% walk rate, which ranks in the top 5%, and an elite hard-hit rate which ranks first among qualified players. He’s relied heavily on his slider, a pitch the Astros have struggled with all season long. They really have struggled against all sorts of pitching, ranking second-to-last in barrel rate, so any way you slice it I don’t see many runs coming from Houston.
Greinke hasn’t quite been Cy Young worthy like Maeda, but he’s remained steady in his 17th MLB season with an ERA around 4.00 but peripherals pointing to a bit more success on the mound than that lets on. He had plenty of success early in the season, however, and you should have confidence backing him to keep a talented Twins offense at bay. The fact of the matter is Greinke is playoff tested (just a .241 batting average against), with one or two bad outings mixed into an otherwise great career in October. The Twins actually ranked 16th in the league in offense this year, so this total shouldn’t scare you too much.
Chicago White Sox vs. Oakland A’s
I realize we don’t like wins and losses so much in the analytics community, but let me throw out a record for you: 14-0. That’s Chicago’s mark when facing a left-handed pitcher in 2020, as they will in Game 1 at Oakland with Jesus Luzardo on the hill. That stat is supported by the fact that the White Sox hold the league’s top wRC+ against lefties this season at 143, possessing all the right handed power bats you could possibly want with Eloy Jimenez, Jose Abreu and the like waiting to pounce on southpaws. Luzardo’s batted ball profile is incredibly unspectacular; he hasn’t done a good job at all of limiting hard contact, which is going to be an issue against some absolute mashers. You have Lucas Giolito on the mound for Chicago to boot, whose strikeout rate north of 33% is nothing short of elite and who has posted a career-low .196 expected batting average against. I’m backing the Sox with confidence.
New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians:
Gerrit Cole’s first season in New York was good, not great, but his season-long numbers are probably a bit inflated from a mini-slump he went through in late August when he was unspectacular in two straight starts against the Braves and Rays, two great offenses.
There’s nothing to fear today, with one of the worst offenses in baseball sitting on the other side of the field. Cleveland has the 25th-worst wRC+ against righties this season, and aside from Jose Ramirez their lineup ha been a disappointment top to bottom. Cole has struggled a bit with hard contact this year, but has limited contact as a whole and boasts top-shelf strikeout and walk rates. Cleveland should pose no problem to Cole.
On the other end there is Shane Bieber, whose lone outing against the Yankees in the past two years was a disaster, one where he allowed five earned runs and didn’t make it out of the second inning. The Yankees are elite against right-handed pitching (122 wRC+) and finished the season strong as arguably baseball’s best offense. They should be able to eek out a few runs off the difficult Bieber, more than enough for Cole, who I expect to allow under two runs. I considered the over here because of the Yankees’ offense, but I’m afraid they will have to do it all themselves. They hold the clear edge here and check in at a fantastic -110. It’s a must-bet for me.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jetsfan196) and I may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.