Simply put, I like Friday’s underdogs. Quite frankly, I can’t believe DraftKings Sportsbook has San Francisco as an underdog at home — doesn’t matter who’s on the bump for the Dodgers. But I don’t want to complain too much about that. Instead, they’re among my DraftKings Sportsbook picks for Friday’s MLB Playoffs action.
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Everyone was reminded on Thursday of just how tough Houston’s lineup can be. Although, that game wasn’t exactly an outlier for Lance Lynn. Sure, he put up awesome numbers this season. But he also had more than a few rough outings against quality teams in 2021, including the Astros. Lucas Giolito may have had some rough days himself this season, but he also posted quality starts against the Blue Jays, Rays (twice), Cardinals and his Friday opponent, the Astros. In fact, he dealt vs. Houston in their only meeting this season.
Framber Valdez, however, cannot say the same about his last outing against his Friday night opponent. The lefty hasn’t seen the White Sox in a while, but they got to him for four runs over 6 1/3 innings in mid-July. And Chicago is still picking on left-handed pitching, ranking fifth in wOBA and wRC+ as well as sixth in OPS and ISO against lefties over the last month.
This is the one game on Friday I can’t back the underdog fully. I like Charlie Morton a lot, and Atlanta’s lineup is tough. But how can you go against Corbin Burnes? So instead, I’d rather back both starting pitchers.
I prefer the first seven innings total to the first five innings total (O/U 3.5) because it only takes a few mistakes for the over on the latter to hit. At the same time, one of the best NL pitchers this season is going toe-to-toe against a strong, playoff-experienced pitcher, so they could shut down both lineups in the early going. Therefore, I’d prefer a little breathing room and a small amount of exposure to the bullpens, if any.
The Braves were tough on righties in the last month of the regular season, and they did tag Burnes the only time they saw him in 2021. But Milwaukee’s ace shut down plenty of lineups that hit right-handed pitching well throughout the season. I feel more inclined to chalk that one up to an off-day for Burnes, which gave Atlanta a chance to capitalize.
Furthermore, Burnes is well-rested. This is where Milwaukee’s long-term planning pays off.
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The Rays absolutely made a statement in the series opener. Randy Arozarena put on a show Thursday. The Red Sox were already losing before both his no-doubter and his steal of home, but both moments poured serious salt in Boston’s wound.
As much as this isn’t an elimination game, the Red Sox have to steal one in Tampa to have a chance. And I can’t imagine them rolling over in back-to-back games after they dug themselves out of a hole to make the postseason. This game is exactly why you pay someone like Chris Sale so much money.
The lefty isn’t at the top of his game right now, but I like him in a battle against a rookie starting pitcher. Even if Kevin Cash turns to the bullpen early, the Red Sox have gotten to Tampa’s relievers this season. They’re good, but the Rays aren’t about to shutout the Red Sox on back-to-back nights.
Tampa was a top-five lineup in OPS, wOBA, ISO and wRC+ against lefties in the last month of the season — thus Eduardo Rodriguez’s short start Thursday. But, the Rays weren’t a good team against left-handed pitching prior to September. As much as they’re hot at the right time, the Rays’ struggles against lefties earlier in the season prove they’re a team Sale could do well against.
As for Boston’s hitters: they ranked third in OPS, wOBA, ISO and wRC+ against righties in the last month of the season. Baz’s postseason debut could be brief.
The Giants have seen a lot of Walker Buehler this year, and they only got to him once in six chances. That said, San Francisco still managed to win half the games in which they faced the Dodgers righty. And the last time the Giants saw Buehler, which was on Sept. 5, they tagged him for six runs over three innings. Something similar would happen to the righty later in the month vs. the Rockies, marking the only other 2021 game in which he failed to get through five innings. He bounced back over his next two starts, but Buehler can get hit around. And it’s not out of the realm of possibility for that to happen against the lineup that ranked second in OPS, wOBA and wRC+ against righties throughout the last month of the season, as well as fifth in ISO.
Not that Logan Webb needs an absurd amount of run support, but who’s he to turn any help down? San Francisco’s NLDS Game 1 starter was very consistent all season, and that includes his starts vs. the Dodgers. Webb also hasn’t seen L.A. since late July, which also plays into his favor. And the Dodgers may have posted the eight-best ISO against righties over the last month, but they’ve been middle of the pack otherwise.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
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