As we go to press on Monday three of the four Divisional series were in position to be decided before GamingToday hits the streets on Tuesday morning.
Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Dodgers each held 2-1 series leads against St. Louis and Atlanta respectively and were hosting the potential Game 4 clinchers. With the Divisional series being best of five it meant both the Pirates and Dodgers were in their most favorable position to win and advance to the NLCS by winning on Monday.
A loss would mean a fifth and final game on the road on Wednesday.
The most intriguing of the four opening series is Detroit vs. Oakland. The Tigers were considered the team to beat back in spring training, yet Oakland finished with a better record, which gave them the home field edge in this series. By splitting the first two games in Oakland the Tigers reclaimed the home field advantage.
A fourth game had already been assured for the other AL Divisional series as the A’s and Tigers each won a game in Oakland before heading to Detroit for Games 3 and 4. Oakland took Game 3 on Monday, 6-3, assuring the A’s, at the worst, would return to Oakland for a Game 5.
Should neither team sweep the two games in Detroit and the series return to Oakland for a fifth game the pressure would be on the favored Tigers.
Let price be your guide in such a situation if the matchup is a repeat of Game 1 with Bartolo Colon facing Detroit’s Max Scherzer. In the unlikely case either team is made an underdog of plus 120 or more that team would be the play. More likely this will be a competitively priced game with the preferred play being the UNDER with the Total set at either 6½ or 7.
The preference here remains for the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the NLCS and represent the senior circuit in the World Series. Their opponent is forecast to be the survivor of the Boston vs. Tampa Bay series, which most likely will be Boston, based on how things stand as of Monday.
Boston was in a position to sweep its series against Tampa Bay with a 2-0 lead after winning both games in Boston. Tampa Bay had won on the road last Monday to break a tie with Texas for the second American League Wild Card and won two nights later in Cleveland in the actual AL Wild Card game.
The Rays were unable to win either road game in Boston even though a pair of front line pitchers – David Price and Matt Moore – got starts in Fenway Park. The Rays turned to the hero of their win over Cleveland – young Alex Cobb – to keep the series alive for a fourth game on Tuesday.
In forecasting how these series may play out the Dodgers should get by the Braves even if it requires a fifth game in Atlanta. Clayton Kershaw remains the best starting pitcher in baseball and he will be heavily favored to win a fifth game even on the road in Atlanta, just as he was in the series opener. The downside for the Dodgers is that if Kershaw starts a Game 5 he would not be available to start the first game of the NLCS against either the Cardinals or Pirates.
St. Louis is the pick to win a decisive Game 5 back home. The Pirates’ best chance to advance would have been by winning Monday’s fourth game at home. Instead, the Cards won 2-1. Not quite as dominant as Kershaw, St Louis’ Adam Wainwright is a proven big game pitcher and would be the heavy favorite, most likely over Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole in a fifth game of their series. In such a matchup UNDER 7 would be best play although UNDER 6½ would also be playable if there is no ‘vig’ attached.
Boston should get by Tampa Bay in the American League although the Rays are well positioned to win Monday’s Game 3. Boston and Jake Peavy would be the pick to win Tuesday’s Game 4 if Tampa Bay is able to extend the series.
If the series returns to Boston as a result of a Rays’ sweep in Tampa there would likely be a rematch of Game 1 in which the Red Sox mauled Matt Moore and Jon Lester pitched Boston to a 12-2 win. Boston should win a fifth game and would be playable at minus 150 or less. Above -150 Boston could be played on the run line at -1½.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]