Grab a helmet, grab a bat, and get in the on deck circle because one of the most exciting MLB campaigns in years is about to take it up a notch as the 2019 postseason begins this week.
Ten teams enter, one team lives at the end. This is what we baseball fans live for after enduring a lot of bad teams and bad performances all summer. Now, it’s the best vs. the best and only one will survive.
The AL wild card takes place on Wednesday as Tampa Bay visits Oakland and the winner travels to Houston on Friday in the first of two Division Series. Also on Friday, Minnesota opens at New York in the other ALDS.
The NL wild card was Milwaukee facing Washington on Tuesday. That winner goes to face Los Angeles on Thursday. Also on Thursday, St. Louis is at Atlanta in the other NLDS.
I must address the issue of payroll. Over the years, we have heard naysayers complaining about teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Cubs buying their way to a World Series. This season, only half of the teams that make up the top-10 highest payrolls in baseball have made it to the postseason: Yankees, Nationals, Dodgers, Astros, and Cardinals. The remaining five playoff teams: Brewers, Braves, Twins, Athletics, and Rays are all in the bottom half of the league in payroll, with Tampa Bay shelling out the lowest amount, ranking 30th.
One more thing, does it bother anyone else that Tim Anderson of the White Sox sat out for the first game of Saturday’s double-header to ensure he finishes the season with the AL’s best batting average (.335)? Ted Williams is truly turning over in his grave.
On Monday, I got a chance to speak to one of my favorite people who works in one of my favorite places, Randy Blum of the SuperBook at the Westgate. He told me that due to Sunday NFL and the Monday Night Football game, there wasn’t too much play coming in just yet on the baseball wild card games. However, Randy did say that the book has liability on the A’s, Twins and the Yankees to win the World Series. These teams saw heavy future book action before the regular season even began.
Blum said he expects fan favorites New York, Houston and Los Angeles to get the bulk of bets on any individual games as well as heavy wagers in both the Division and Championship Series.
By the way, the SuperBook offers the widest array of futures and exotic wagering opportunities and it is certainly one of the best books in town to watch a game.
We know of three scheduled matchups through Friday for sure: Wednesday’s, Rays/A’s, Thursday’s Cardinals/Braves, and Friday’s, Twins/Yankees. As of writing this column only Tampa Bay has a confirmed starter in Charlie Morton.
Here are this week’s Best Bets (all records, stats, and trends are as of print and may change as can starting pitchers):
Rays at Athletics: Morton is set to start for the Rays and an educated guess says that Sean Manaea takes the hill for the A’s here.
One trend that jumped out to me is that six of the eight meetings this season have gone under the total. Tampa Bay enters this contest on a 4-1 under run while Oakland has played to nine unders in the last 11 outings.
The under is 10-4 the last 14 meetings in Oakland. UNDER
Cardinals at Braves: Possible starters are Dakota Hudson and Dallas Keuchel. Regardless, Atlanta is going to be a heavy favorite here.
While Hudson clearly has better numbers and St. Louis has tons of playoff experience, Atlanta, to me is a true contender for the NL pennant. The Braves have a stronger lineup, while the Cardinals the superior pitching staff.
I really don’t want to lay a huge price with the Braves, nor do I see value on the run line. I am staying away from this one.
Twins at Yankees: Of course, the Yankees at home should be close to a $2.00 favorite here. Jose Berrios is most likely taking the mound for Minny, while NY’s starter is between James Paxton and Luis Severino.
These are the two most dangerous lineups in the postseason, ranking first and second in both scoring and home runs. In every major offensive category, these two teams rank in the top-four.
New York has taken four of the six meetings this season and I do like them to advance to the ALCS, but not knowing for sure the starters, I just can’t play them on the run line. However, five of the six meetings in 2019 have gone over the total. Game 1 should be a slugfest. OVER
Last week: 1-1