Expert Baseball Picks
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The Braves have their backs against the wall, and while they have lost their last four games, overall, they have won their last five home games. Still, they go with Newcomb in this game and Atlanta has lost his previous four home starts. The Braves decided to start Newcomb because he is a lefty, but the Dodgers have won 35 of their last 52 road games facing a left-hand starter. Buehler was lights out in his last start in the NL West tiebreaker game, and he has not given up any earned runs in three of his previous four starts. Still, taking the Braves in this one at home. Newcomb has not given up any earned runs in his last three appearances, including one start, where he totaled seven 2/3 innings, and he also flirted with a no-hitter the last time he faced the Dodgers. I expect him to have a solid outing in this game and the Braves may not light up Buehler but should get enough to get their first win.
The Red Sox bullpen was a little shaky giving up two runs, but they prevailed to take a 1-0 lead in this series. Both Tanaka and Price have not been in top form over their last couple of starts so the total might be worth a few bucks. That said I expect Price to have the worst outing with his pitching history. Price is 0-8 in nine career playoff starts and this season facing the Yankees he was 0-3 in four starts where he had a bloated 10.34 ERA. New York will take this game in Boston, and even the series and have the home-field advantage heading home for Game 3.
The Astros begin their quest to repeat as World Series champions hosting the Cleveland Indians. The Astros had the 2nd most wins in the Majors, and they led the bigs in team ERA. Verlander got over his August struggles, 5.29 ERA in six starts, by going 3-0 with an ERA of only 1.09 in five September starts. He will oppose Cleveland Ace Kluber, who pitched well in the two starts facing Houston this season. The Tribe easily won the weak AL Central this season and did have 91 wins, but they were eight games under .500 (23-31) facing teams with a winning record. Look for that trend to continue in this game. Verlander will have another great outing while Kluber will just be decent and facing the Astros in Houston decent will not cut it. The Astros will take the first game of this series to take a 1-0 lead in the ALDS.
A great pitching matchup in this Game 1 of the NDLS with two starters that have been solid lately and for the season. Ryu has only given up one earned run in his last three starts, and Foltynewicz has allowed three earned runs in his previous two outings. Foltynewicz did not have the best outing of the season facing the Dodgers, but he will have a good start in this game. Ryu will have a good outing as well, and this game may come down to which bullpen can get it done. The Dodgers have the edge in that aspect, as their bullpen ranked 8th in the Majors in ERA and the Braves ranked 17th. The last time the Braves made the playoffs, it was back in 2013 where they faced the Dodgers in the NLDS and lost in four games.
L.A. manager Dave Roberts pushed Ace Clayton Kershaw’s start to Game 2 of this series to start Ryu in Game 1. Atlanta knows they have a lot of pressure to win Game 1 facing the Dodgers Ace in Game 2 even though Kershaw’s post-season struggles are well documented. While the head-to-head trends and the oddsmakers have the Dodgers as the pick in this game, I am taking the Braves. They were a surprise playoff team this season, and they have much less pressure on them in this series facing a Dodgers' team that has a ton of pressure to bring a World Series title back to La La Land. The Braves will play loose, and in a low scoring affair they will win and take a 1-0 series lead.
Severino was lit up in his last start facing the A's, and in the start, in last season's Wild Card game he was not sharp despite a Yankees win. This time around and at home he will have a good outing facing the A's. Oakland is carrying 11 pitchers in this game, which will be a bullpen start where they have had success on the season. However, in this game, the bullpen will give up some runs facing a New York lineup that ranks 2nd in the Majors in runs scored. Severino having a good outing and the Yankees’ bats doing some damage equals a Yankees win, as they will advance to the ALDS.
These teams come into this Wild Card game after losing their division tiebreakers in their last game. Each lineup struggled in the tiebreaker game, and that will be the case in this game as well with two in-form pitchers on the hill. Freeland had a stellar 2nd half of the season but was just OK in his lone start against the Cubs this season. Lester also ended the season well, and in two of his last three starts, he did not allow any earned runs. With Freeland and Lester getting the start this game will be a low scoring one, and there is a good chance it will come down to which bullpen gets it done. That is the reason the Cubs are the pick in this Wild Card game. They ranked 2nd in the Majors in bullpen ERA while the Rockies only ranked 26th. Chicago will take this Wild Card game and look to exact some revenge in the NLDS facing the Brewers, who denied them the NL Central title.
The Rockies won nine of their last 10 games, but they have only won one of their previous nine playoff games, and they were swept by the Dodgers in the last series between these clubs. Marquez was lights out in his previous start, but that was facing a Phillies' team that fell apart in September and only ranked tied for 22nd in the Majors in runs scored. The Dodgers lost Buehler’s last start, but he only gave up two runs in that outing and in his previous two starts did not give up any earned runs. Not only do these two teams have exactly the same record, but the Rockies are 44-37 on the road this season, and the Dodgers are 44-37 at home. Both starters will have good outings in this game, but Buehler will have the slightly better one. He will hand the ball off to the Dodgers' bullpen with the lead, and they will do the rest. The Dodgers will win this tiebreaker game and head to the NLDS while the Rockies will play in the NL Wild Card game for the 2nd season in a row.
The Diamondbacks have won Ray’s last eight starts against the Padres while San Diego has lost all five of Lucchesi’s starts against Arizona this season. On top of that Ray is a lefty and the Padres have lost nine of their last 11 home games facing a left-hand starter. This one is not a tough call and while the D-Backs have had a less than stellar month of September they have played well as of late and will end their, somewhat, disappointing season on a high note with a win in their last game. Ray will pitch well while Lucchesi will not, and Arizona will take this game and the series.
The Reds are sputtering at season's end losing five in a row, and they have lost their last six games against the Pirates. Pittsburgh has lost two in a row, and their starter for this game in Kingman was lit up in his previous start. However, he will be facing a Reds team that has really struggled to score runs in their five-game skid. He will bounce back and have a decent outing while the Pirates' lineup will get to DeSclafani early and often. Pittsburgh will take this game sending the Reds to their 6th straight loss and ensuring that they end the season with a winning record.
The Indians already have their playoff matchup set, so this game and series does not mean anything to them in terms of the standings. Because of that, the team may rest some starters. The Royals need one win in this four-game series to avoid the most losses in franchise history, which was 106 losses in 2005. Tomlin is vying to make the Indians post-season roster, but they have lost his last two starts where he has totaled eight innings and given up six earned runs. Sparkman had not given up any earned runs in four innings in his previous two relief appearances before giving up two in his last effort out of the bullpen. The Indians have not seen Sparkman this season, and he will have a good outing while Tomlin will get battered around some. The Royals will take this game, which will be their 5th win in their last six games.
The Brewers are surging at the right time as they look for a series sweep in this game. Chacin is winless in four starts this month, and while he has not allowed more than three earned runs in his four starts in September, he also has not lasted past the 5th inning in any of those outings. That said, he got a win in his last outing facing the Cardinals, opposing Gant, which was his first win against them in 10 career starts. Gant has had significant control issues and St. Louis could use a good start from him going deep in the game, as their bullpen has struggled in this series. Look for Chacin to have a good outing and the Brewers to have a solid night at the dish. Add that up, and you get a Brewers win to complete the series sweep.
Neither team has had a successful season, but San Francisco has closed out the campaign on a dismal run losing 17 of their last 21 games. The two starters in this matchup faced each other in their previous start where Erlin had the better outing, and the Padres got the win. That said, I expect Stratton to rebound in this game. The Giants have struggled to score runs lately, but their bats will wake up in this game and give Stratton some support. Add that to Stratton having a good outing, and you get a Giants' win in this division matchup.
The A's only need one more win, and unfortunately, after dropping their last home game, they'll have to do it on the road. While Mengden has been solid out of the bullpen this month his one poor outing was facing the Mariners. Paxton should get the start in this game, and while he has been battling an illness, I still believe that the chances are far more likely that Paxton has the better start. The A's will have to wait at least one more day to celebrate.
The Red Sox look to wrap up the Majors' best record with a win in this game that features a couple of swing starters. The bullpen will be key in this game with the swing starters, and Boston has the edge in that area. They rank 7th in the bigs in bullpen ERA while the Indians only rank 24th. On top of that, the highest scoring team in baseball in the Red Sox will be going up against Plutko, who has given up nine earned runs in his last two starts. Boston will take this game, and the series set the franchise records for wins, and capture the top seed in the AL playoffs.
Both of these teams have had bad seasons, and each has also played poorly as of late. Something has to give in this game, as the Tigers have lost eight of their last nine home games and the Royals have lost eight of their last 10 road games. Junis did not have the best outing in his previous start, but he was solid in his last three starts, and the Royals are 4-0 in his four starts facing the Tigers this season. Zimmerman has been shaky in his last two starts where he has totaled more earned runs (9) than innings (8 2/3). Like Game 2 of this series, this game will be a close one, but Junis will have the better start, and the Royals will take this game and go for the series win tomorrow.
The Rockies have 10 games left in the season and they do not face the Dodgers again, who they are chasing in the NL West. The Diamondbacks have more work to do than the Rockies to get in the playoffs and while they do face the Dodgers for three more games they only have nine games left in the regular season. Marquez has been solid on the season against the Diamondbacks and he will have another good outing against them in this big game. Greinke has been decent in his last few starts and he will give up some runs in this game. This game will not be a high scoring affair and Marquez will have the better start, which is why the Rockies are the pick in this game. They will get the win, which will be their 2nd in a row and help their playoff chances.
The Marlins have had the Reds’ number at home over the last few seasons, and they have won five of their last seven games against them overall. However, they have a rookie on the hill in Brigham, who has not impressed in his first two Majora League starts. On the other side of the coin, Reed is coming off his best start since joining the Reds' rotation. I expect him to have a good outing in this game in South Beach and the Cincy lineup will rebound getting to Brigham. Bet on the Reds to take the first game of this series and send the Marlins to their 2nd straight loss.
September is not a good time to slump when you are in the playoff race, but that is what the Phillies have done. In losing seven of their last 10 games, they have really hurt their playoff chances, which are now very slim. Things don't look better for them in this game facing Syndergaard. The Phillies did get him for four earned runs in his start before his last one, but they lost that game and in his previous start he shut down a Boston team that is the highest scoring team in the Majors. Eflin had a good last start but had a terrible one in his previous one in a loss to the Mets. Syndergaard will be solid and Eflin will not, which is why the Mets are the pick to take this game and win the series.
Oakland is only four games out of first place in the AL West, and while their next six games are at home facing sub .500 teams, they do not face Houston again in the regular season. The Angels are out of the playoff picture, and they are hoping the Skaggs can return to form before his last two starts before landing on the DL. The A's have been great at home this season and have the 4th best home record in the AL. They have dealt with many injuries to the pitching staff on the season, but keep winning even though they have lost three of their last four games. Look for Hendriks and the rest of the Oakland bullpen to get it done on the hill in this game while the A’s lineup will not have a good welcome back for Skaggs. The A’s will win this game and stay on the heels of the Yankees for the top slot for the AL Wild Card.
The Cardinals are battling it out to make the Wild Card, and they have won their last six games facing the Braves in Atlanta. Mikolas has been the rock of the St. Louis rotation, and they have only lost one of his previous nine starts. Foltynewicz has been lights out as of late, but the bullpen and the lineup have not helped him out much in his last few starts. That will not be the case in this game. He will have another good outing going deep in the game and he will out-duel Mikolas. The Braves will get the win in this game snapping their six-game home losing streak against the Cardinals and sending St. Louis to their 5th loss in their last six games.