Expert Baseball Picks
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The Braves are the road favorite in this game and not surprising since Wainwright has been shelled giving up 11 earned runs in his last two starts. On top of that, he was not sharp against the Braves in his one appearance facing them this season, giving up five earned runs and failing to get out of the 5th inning in a Cardinals’ loss. Wainwright will struggle again in this playoff game, as Atlanta will get to him early and often. Add that to a strong start from Soroka, and you get a Braves win, as they will take a 2-1 series lead.
New York owns Minnesota in the playoffs, going back to the beginning of this century, and will probably win this game, too. But we don't like that price, so we're steering clear of a side here. Instead, we notice that six of seven meetings between these two teams have played over their totals this season, and both these lineups hit righties well. So we'll ride that trend and play the over on Saturday's Game 2.
The Braves are hoping that the injuries to stars Ronald Acuna Jr., who missed the last four games of the regular season, and Freddie Freeman are healed, as they are key pieces to the lineup and on the season combined for 79 HR. Keuchel did not finish the season well in his last three starts but does have post-season success, which is why the Braves signed him in June. This start will be Mikolas' first career postseason appearance, and I predict that the Atlanta lineup will get to him. Keuchel will have a good outing and with reliable run support the Braves will take it.
The Nationals head into this Wild Card game hot winners of eight in a row, but Scherzer has not been hot in his last three starts where he has given up 12 earned runs in 17 2/3 innings. He pitched well against the Brewers in his lone start to the season but did not get much help from the lineup in a Washington loss. If he gets off to a rocky start, the Nationals may be in trouble, as this season they ranked dead last in MLB in bullpen ERA. Woodruff will be making just his 3rd start since coming off the DL, and his last two have only lasted two innings each. Milwaukee ranks 17th in the Majors in bullpen ERA and while they were solid in Woodruff's previous two starts giving up seven runs in 14 innings. However, the bullpen gave up ten earned runs in getting swept in their last series. I look for Scherzer to have a decent start, but the main reason the Nationals will win is their lineup that will get to Woodruff and the Milwaukee bullpen. Washington will win this Wild Card game and head to the NLDS to face the Dodgers with that series beginning on Thursday.
The Braves have lost three of their last four games, but they have Foltynewicz on the hill in this game, and the team has won his previous 13 starts. He has been great in his last few starts and only gave up one earned run in his only starts against the Mets this season in an Atlanta win. Matz has pitched well against the Braves in his last two starts facing them, but New York lost both games. He was lit up in his previous two outings giving up 13 earned runs in nine innings. The Atlanta lineup will get to him in this game and Foltynewicz will have another good outing and put those things together, and you get a Braves to win.
The Indians head into their final series behind the eight-ball not only in terms of the standings but their lineup has struggled in the last two games, and their starter for this game has pitched well in three of his previous four starts. On the other side of the coin the Nats are surging, but they have had little success with Voth on the hill this season. Plesac will struggle once again in this must-win game while Voth will have another solid start as he did in his last one. However, this time around Voth will get some support from the lineup. The Nationals will take this game inching closer to hosting the NL Wild Card while the Indians playoff hopes may be eliminated if the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Indians cannot afford to lose this game, and it is a plus for them having a red-hot rookie on the mound. He and Cease have been pitching well as of late, and while Civale has been great since being called up from the minors, Cease struggled for a while before his last few starts. Cleveland has all the pressure on them needing to win and get help to make the playoffs. They will come through in this season finale getting to Cease for a few runs while Civale will have another good start. The Indians will take this game and keep their playoff hopes alive hoping to catch the Rays, who they trail by 1.5 games for the 2nd AL Wild Card.
The Rangers are reeling, and they face a hot hurler in Porcello who is coming off a great outing. The Red Sox have won five straight against the Rangers when Porcello has gotten the start. Allard is not coming off a bad outing, but he will get tagged up in this one at home where he has struggled on the season. The Red Sox lineup has been good on the season and especially as of late and with them solid at the dish in this game and a good start from Porcello it equals a Red Sox win.
The Brewers are hot right now, but they face Gray, who is the Ace of the Reds’ staff and leads the team in ERA and strikeouts. He has pitched great against the Brewers this season with two starts where he did not give up any earned runs and Cincy has won all four of his starts facing them this season. Look for him to have another sharp outing while the Reds’ lineup will get to Houser, who has given up six earned runs in his last two starts where he only lasted eight innings. The Brewers have lost five of Houser’s last six road starts while the Reds have won 10 of Gray’s last 11 home starts. Look for those trends to continue, as the Reds will take this game and snap the Brewers four-game winning streak.
The Jays swept the Orioles on the road last week, and in one of the games Buchholz was less than sharp giving up seven runs and failing to make it out of the 4th inning. I see him getting tagged up again in this game, but unlike the last one, he will not get a lot of run support. Sheppard will have a good outing in the 2nd one his career but not a great one. However, the Orioles will get it done at the dish facing a struggling Buchholz, and that is why they will take the first game of this division series.
Both teams are in need of a win in this game, as both are currently on the outside looking in on the playoffs. The Phillies are in desperation mode, and they likely need to win out and get a lot of help to make the playoffs. The Indians also need to finish well, but they are only one game out of the 2nd AL Wild Card. The Indians were hot until the Game 2 loss, and they will get hot again in this game getting to Vasquez and the Philadelphia bullpen. Plutko will have another steady outing, and with him getting help, Cleveland will take this game, which is their last home one of the season.
The Diamondbacks have their backs against the walls in their push for the playoffs, but at least they have a hot hurler on the mound and face the struggling Padres. Kelly has been pitching well as of late, and in his first start of the month, he got a win facing the Padres where he did not give up any earned runs and only allowed three hits. Lauer was roughed up in his last outing where he did not even make it out of the 3rd inning. While Arizona has lost five straight road games, that streak will end in this game. Kelly will have another good start, and Lauer will struggle again. The Diamondbacks will take the first game of this series and keep their faint playoff hopes alive.
To say this is a big series is an understatement. This is the first game of seven remaining for these teams and how those games turn out will affect the playoff picture. Not sure why oddsmakers have the Cardinals as the slight favorite in this one, as Hendricks has been great facing St. Louis and he has pitched great as of late. On top of that the Cubs have won all six home games facing the Cardinals this season. Look for this to be a pitcher’s duel with Hendricks and Flaherty each having great outings. However, the Cubs will find a way to win late and in a close and low scoring affair Chicago will take the first game of this series.
The Padres are reeling, and the last time they won a game Paddack was on the hill. He has pitched great in the previous three games and has not given up any earned runs in his last two starts. The Brewers are hot in their chase for the playoffs, and they are hoping for a good return from Woodruff. However, he struggled in his only start of the season against the Padres and will struggle in a very short outing in this one. San Diego will get him for a few runs and Paddack will have another great start. Add those things up, and you get a San Diego win snapping their five-game losing streak.
Both starters in this game have been pitching well as of late, and the Cardinals have won Hudson's last five home starts. In three of his previous four home starts he did not give up any earned runs including his last one where he pitched six scoreless innings and only allowed one hit in a 10-0 win over the San Francisco Giants. When Hudson opposed Strasburg, both pitched well in a low scoring affair that the Nats won and I look for that to happen again. However, Hudson will have the slightly better outing and this time around the Cardinals will get the win.