Major League Baseball Divisional Series are under way

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After one of the most exciting final nights in regular season baseball history last Wednesday, the field for the playoffs was determined and the four League Divisional Series are under way.

Three of the four series are tied at a game apiece at the start of the week as Detroit was able to take one of two games in New York against the Yankees, Tampa was able to do the same in Texas and St Louis achieved a split in Philadelphia.

Thus those three series have been reduced to a best of three with the lower seeded teams enjoying the home field advantage by hosting Games 3 and 4.

The only possible opening series sweep could take place Tuesday in Arizona where the host Diamondbacks are down two games to none to Milwaukee.

All four series will be playing on Tuesday with two AL teams facing elimination. Two NL teams will own 2-1 series leads.

Here are some brief thoughts on what may unfold over the next few days.

New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers

As a result of the first game between Detroit and New York being suspended last Friday in the second inning (resulting in no betting action) both starters were slated to start again on Monday. In Detroit, Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander was roughly a -125 to -130 favorite over Yankees lefty CC Sabathia.

If that game played out to form then the Yankees would be facing elimination on Tuesday and would be scheduled to have AJ Burnett start against Rick Porcello. In such a scenario the preferred play would be to play the OVER if the total is 9 or less.

The Yankees would be a play to avoid elimination if they were underdogs of +120 or more.

Should the Yankees upset Verlander and the Tigers on Monday and Detroit is facing elimination on Tuesday then the Tigers and Porcello would be the play if favored by -150 or less against Burnett. Again, the OVER would be playable if priced no higher than 9.

Should this series go to a fifth game back in New York on Thursday, the Yankees would be the play at -150 in any matchup.

Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays

In the other AL series Tampa Bay was favored over Texas in Monday’s Game 3 with Tuesday’s Game 4 matchup scheduled to have lefty Matt Harrison pitch for Texas against Tampa rookie Jeremy Hellickson. The result of Game 3 will influence the line in Game 4.

Neither team is likely to be favored by more than -125. The preferred play in Game 4 would be on Tampa Bay whether they are looking to end the series on their home field or extend the series to a fifth game back in Texas.

Should there be a Game 5 in Arlington the Rangers would be the play if favored by -140 or less. Tampa would be attractive if made an underdog of +150 or more, even if rookie lefty Matt Moore starts.

The young lefty was impressive in Tampa’s 9-0 opening game win, showing great poise in addition to excellent command. Despite the big stage of a fifth and deciding game he would be playable but only as a significantly priced underdog.

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

In the NL play resumes in both series on Tuesday. Arizona faces elimination at home as they send rookie Josh Collmenter to the mound to face Milwaukee’s Shaun Marcum. Looking to complete the sweep the Brewers have opened as -115 favorites and the recommend play in this game will be to take the Diamondbacks.

Collmenter has an unorthodox delivery and he faced Milwaukee twice during the regular season, once at home and once on the road. The Brewers are yet to score a run on the rookie, managing just three hits in each outing, one of six innings and one of 8.

Should there be a fourth and potentially a fifth game, Milwaukee would be the play to end the series and advance. However, the Brewers would be playable only at a price of -125 or less in Arizona for a Game 4 and if favored by -160 or less in Phoenix for a fifth game.

Unless we have a rematch of Game 1 between Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo and Arizona’s Ian Kennedy (most likely in a Game 5) the preferred totals play would be on the OVER. In a Gallardo/Kennedy rematch, UNDER a total or 7 or higher would be the preferred play.

Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals

 

 

Cole Hamels and his Phils opened as -135 favorites over St Louis and Jaime Garcia in Tuesday’s Game 3. In winning Game 2 on Sunday the Cards have defeated the Phillies in 7 of 11 meetings this season and now hold the home field advantage over their heavily favored foes.

Based on the efforts of both starting pitchers against the other team this season, the Cardinals have an excellent shot at winning Game 3. Hamels had one very shaky start against St. Louis this season, allowing four runs in seven innings in a late season loss in St Louis.

Garcia had a pair of outstanding starts against the Phillies in 2011, allowing just two runs, only one of which was earned in 15 innings with one start at home and one start in Philly. At +120 or more, the Cards merit a play at home in Game 3.

Regardless of the outcome of Game 3, the Phillies would be playable in both Game 4 and a potential Game 5 back in Philadelphia. The Game 4 play would be if the Phils are favored by -140 or less while they could be backed in Game 5 if favored by -160 or less.

The UNDER is still preferred to the OVER, especially at totals of 8 or higher.

By this time next week the League Championship Series may be under way.

Although the matchups are not yet known, the best futures plays would be on the winner of the Texas/Tampa Bay series in the AL over the victor of the Detroit/New York series, but only if the Rangers or Rays are priced as underdogs of +130 or more.

The winner of the St Louis/Philadelphia series would be preferred over the winner of Arizona/Milwaukee although Philadelphia would be too high priced to recommend a significant play.

St. Louis would be playable if made an underdog of +120 or more, which is likely. The Cards would start the series on the road for the first two games as the NL Wild Card.

 

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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