Expert MLB best bets, picks and predictions today, 10/7: All eyes on Spencer Strider
Welcome to my first best bets edition of the postseason! I don’t know about you, but these last two days have felt like forever. The Wild Card round was expected to go from Tuesday to Thursday, but all four series ended in just two games and Thursday became an unexpected day without baseball. Thankfully, action resumes on Saturday with all four Divisional round matchups being played throughout the day. For this edition, I’ve chosen one money line bet and then a +268 parlay that is bound to pique your interest. Be sure to check out all of our MLB playoffs picks.
Baltimore Orioles ML (-145) over Texas Rangers
Available at DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing
The series between the Rangers and Orioles is expected to be one of the most exciting matchups, and a big reason for that is because not many people expected these two teams to be where they are. The Rangers held the lead in the AL West for months and seemingly put the team on autopilot for most of June and July, but a second-half surge by the Astros and Mariners was enough for the Rangers to crumble. Following that, they had the most difficult Wild Card draw. A best-of-three series in Tampa Bay against the Rays seemed like a one-way ticket to the offseason, but following a two-game sweep, here are the Rangers in the ALDS. However, one of the downfalls of playing in the Wild Card is that Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi are unavailable for Game 1.
That’s a huge loss for Texas because the Rangers know that Baltimore has been resting for a week and have Kyle Bradish ready to go. But in a relatively shocking move, the Rangers decided not to start Dane Dunning in Game 1. Instead, Bruce Bochy has opted to start the lefty Andrew Heaney, who bounced between the starting rotation and bullpen in September. This seems like a matchup-based decision since the O’s have several lefty hitters at the top of their lineup, such as Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Anthony Santander and Cedric Mullins. However, it is interesting to note that during the regular season, the Orioles ranked 9th in batting average and 12th in wRC+ against right-handed pitching and 10th in batting average and 8th in wRC+ against lefties. In summary, facing a lefty isn’t a disadvantage for the O’s.
The Rays were the talk of the AL East in the first half of the season, but it didn’t take long for the O’s to swoop in and steal the title away. In fact, the Orioles finished as the best team in the American League in the regular season. A combination of a young pitching rotation with a surging offense and a lights-out bullpen created the team Brandon Hyde envisioned in Spring Training. Baltimore claimed its first AL East title since 2014, and that earned a bye through the Wild Card. That means Kyle Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez and John Means are rested, ready and raring to get back on the mound after an extended rest. The week off also gave the O’s bullpen a much-needed break which is crucial since a good arm barn can make or break a postseason run. For Game 1, Hyde has unsurprisingly named Bradish the starter.
The right-hander finished the regular season as the ace of the O’s as he posted a 2.83 ERA in 30 starts. And in 13 starts at Camden Yards, Bradish had a 2.23 ERA and limited hitters to a .199 batting average. Hyde will likely try to get 5 innings out of Bradish before turning to the bullpen, and Hyde has a plethora of excellent options to go to, like Tyler Wells, Shintaro Fujinami, Cole Irvin and Yennier Cano. To top it off, Adam Jones is returning to Baltimore to throw out the first pitch before Game 1. Bradish and the O’s should open their 2023 postseason with a win.
Don’t forget to check out my Divisional round preview and best bets
Parlay: Orioles ML / Twins-Astros Under 9 / Braves ML (+268)
Available at DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing
For my second best bet of the day, I’m going with a three-leg parlay. The first leg is the Orioles money line, which you can read all about in the pick above. The second leg is an alternate total between the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros. Most sportsbooks have the total listed at 7.5, which is normal for a postseason game. But instead of taking the under 7.5, I’m giving myself a little extra cushion and taking an alternate total under 9. My reasoning is simple: good pitching will be the theme of this series. In the Wild Card round, the Twins and Blue Jays combined for just six runs in two games. That’s because the Minnesota offense isn’t the most dangerous in baseball and won’t outslug a team to a win.
The Twins are the type of team to score 2-3 runs and rely on their starting pitching to get a win, and that’s exactly what happened in the Wild Card. And now in the ALDS, the Twins have to take on Justin Verlander in Game 1. Verlander finished the season with a 3.69 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in five September starts, and he held hitters to a .223 batting average in that time. The reigning AL Cy Young will be opposed by Bailey Ober, who has allowed two earned runs or less in seven of his last nine starts. Between Verlander and Ober for the first few innings and then two above-average bullpens in the back half of the game, I would be surprised to see seven or more runs scored.
The third and final leg of this parlay is for the Braves to win their Game 1 matchup against the Phillies. The World Series favorite is finally back in action after a week off and has the fan-favorite Spencer Strider scheduled to start on Saturday night. This is great for the Braves for a few reasons. First, Strider is an elite pitcher. That just needs to be said. Second, he was nearly perfect against the Phillies in the regular season. In four regular-season starts against the Phillies, he went 4-0 with a 2.42 ERA and limited the hitters to a .192 batting average, .225 on-base percentage and .512 OPS. He also struck out 38 hitters in just 26 innings, so he was getting a lot of swings and misses – the norm for Strider. Besides that, he also limited hitters to a .206 batting average with a 43.7% strikeout rate in 16 starts at home.
He will be countered by Ranger Suarez, who had a shaky end of the regular season with a 5.20 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in five September starts. If Game 1 was in Philadelphia, I wouldn’t make the Braves as big of a favorite since Citizens Bank Park is rocking in the playoffs. However, Strider and the Braves are in Atlanta, and I can’t help but back them as they start their postseason journey. Atlanta was 8-5 against the Phillies and outscored them 74-58 in the regular season, so I think they can do it once more on Saturday.