Friday brings us our first full day of playoff action as the ALDS joins the NLDS at the party. After a fantastic first night of divisional action the Tampa Bay Rays travel to the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins head to New York to face the Yankees.
Here are Today’s MLB Picks:
Tampa Bay Rays @ Houston Astros
1u – Under 3.5 Runs in the first 5 innings @ -110
- Tyler Glasnow has a 0.55 ERA in 33 innings on the road this season
- Justin Verlander had a 2.58 ERA in the regular-season, and a 2.08 ERA in September
This series is going to be a lot of fun. The Rays are a really good baseball team, especially now they have Glasnow and Blake Snell back healthy. In fact, I would give them a punchers chances against all of the other six teams in the playoffs right now, but the Astros are a different proposition. The Astros pitching is loaded with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole likely starting three of the five games in this series. That means the Rays cannot afford to miss out when facing Zack Greinke and Wade Miley later in this series.
However, the Rays will give it everything in those starts against Verlander and Cole, and that starts with their pitching. Glasnow will take the mound in game 1, having allowed just two earned runs in 12 1/3 innings since returning from injury. He has yet to go deeper than 4 1/3 in any single start this season, so I struggle trusting him to suddenly be able to go deep in this one. However, he should be ready to go at least five innings. Combine the performances we have seen from him since his return with the fact Verlander is on the mound in this one and I like this game to be low scoring at least through the first half. Verlander has an ERA under 2.50 the first two times through the order, a 2.34 ERA at home and had a 2.08 ERA in September. Yep, this one should be a pitching duel early.
St. Louis Cardinals @ Atlanta Braves
1u – Under 6.5 Runs in the first 7 innings @ -135
- Jack Flaherty had a 0.91 ERA in the second half of the season
- Mike Foltynewicz had a 2.65 ERA in the second half of the season and a 1.50 ERA in September
Winning that first game for the Cardinals was so important to their hopes of progression in this series. Now they get the in-form Jack Flaherty on the mound, which is hugely significant. Flaherty has been superb since the All-Star Break and has shut down nearly every offense he has faced in that time. However, what makes this such a fascinating matchup is that he will face another pitcher who has rounded into form nicely in the second half in Mike Foltynewicz. Foltynewicz struggled initially after returning from injury, but his post-All-Star Break numbers and his September numbers are hugely impressive. Both of these pitchers have the ability to go deep into this game and therefore, the total of 6.5 after seven innings looks like a value play towards the under, despite the odds not being massively favorable.
Minnesota Twins @ New York Yankees
1u – Minnesota Twins Over 3.5 Total Runs @ -108
- James Paxton has struggled the first time through the order this season, with a 4.62 ERA against the first nine hitters
- The Minnesota Twins average 6.06 runs per game on the road this season.
While the other three series look like pitching contests, this one is where we could see a lot of runs. Neither pitching staff is rock solid and both teams have offenses that can do a lot of damage on the right day. Paxton ended the 2019 season very strongly, but this Twins offense will be a tough test. The weather will also play a factor, with strong winds expected in New York this evening, which could make it hard for pitchers to hit their spots. Banking on the Twins pitchers to deliver a win is not something I am willing to do, but an offense averaging over six runs per game on the road having a line set at just 3.5 definitely presents some juicy value.
By Ben Rolfe