Expert Baseball Picks
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We gotta give Cole the check-mark in the pitching match-up, and Houston owns short edges with the sticks and in the bullpen comparison. So we're going with the Astros for our free MLB pick on this Game 3.
The Nationals' pitching has been lights out in this series, giving up only one run and four hits in the first two games. The Cardinals won three of four games against the Nationals in the series this season in Washington in the first half. The Nats have won four of Strasburg's last five starts against St. Louis, and that trend will continue in this game. He will have another solid playoff start, and the bats of the Cardinals will stay silent. Flaherty will have a good outing as well, but just like the first two games, the Nationals will win a low scoring game and take a commanding 3-0 lead in this series.
Verlander is coming off a rough outing on short rest, but we expect a bounce-back performance Sunday night. So we'll give Houston the edge in the pitching match-up here. We'll also give Houston a small advantage with the sticks. Plus, we have to believe the Astros will salvage a split of these first two games on their home field. So we're going with Houston here for our free MLB pick on Game 2.
We give Greinke a short edge in the pitching match-up here, but it's close. We also give Houston the edge with the sticks and in the bullpen comparison. Also, the Astros just played a big game two days ago, while New York's had four days off, and we prefer teams that have played more recently in spots like this. So we're going with Houston here for our free MLB pick.
Both of these teams come into this game-winning two in a row, and both were underdogs in the last series. Both of the starters in this game have pitched well in the playoffs, and Mikolas has only given up one earned run in two appearances. Both will have good outings in this game and not give up many runs. The difference in this game will be in the bullpen, and in the playoffs, the Cardinals have a bullpen ERA of 4.30 while the Nationals have a bullpen ERA of 6.63. The Nats ranked dead last in the Majors this season in bullpen ERA, and that will hurt them in this game. The Cardinals will score runs late while the Nationals will not, and St. Louis will take the first game of this series at home.
Cole will be hard-pressed to match his previous outing, but he still gets the check-mark in the pitching match-up. And Houston owns the edge with the sticks. So we like the Astros for Game 5, and we'll chase the better price by giving the run and a half on the run line.
What a great pitching matchup in this Game 5, and both starters had great last outings in this series. This game will definitely be a pitcher's duel, but the downfall of the Nationals may be their bullpen. They have an ERA of 8.40 in the playoffs, and in the regular season, they ranked dead last in MLB in bullpen ERA. Strasburg and Walker will both have solid starts, and the Dodgers will get a few runs late, and that will be all they need to get the win and close out the series advancing to the NLCS.
Verlander's been very tough on Tampa this year, to the tune of one run over 19 1/3 innings. Also, while Rays pitchers held Houston's sticks in check Monday we expect a bit of a breakout here for Game 4. So we like the Astros for our free MLB pick on Game 4, and we'll chase a better price by playing them against the run line.
The Braves are back at home where they won their last game with Foltynewicz pitching a gem in the shutout win. He will be opposing Flaherty in this big game, and the results will be the same. Foltynewicz will have a better outing, and Flaherty will be decent but give up some runs. The pitching will be the same as in Game 2, and the results will be the same as well, as the Braves will win a low scoring game and close out the series advancing to the NLCS.
Both games in this series played over the totals, and the way these teams hit the ball, perhaps with a little help from the bullpens, we expect more of the same Monday. We're going with the over for our free MLB pick here.
The Nationals have their backs against the wall down 2-1, but they have won their last five games following a loss. Scherzer was lights out in his one inning of relief in Game 2 but has given up 12 earned runs in his previous three starts lasting 17 2/3 innings. Hill will be making his first post-season start, and he has not gone past three innings in his last three starts since missing three months with an injury. He may have another short outing, and the Dodgers' bullpen has been solid in the series giving up three earned runs in the three games. The LA bats will get to Scherzer for q few runs while Hill and the Dodgers' bullpen will have a great outing. LA will get the win in a low scoring game and close out the series advancing to the NLCS.
Houston is just the better team here, with Greinke, a nice advantage with the sticks and a fantastic bullpen. The Astros covered against the run line in the first two games of this series, and we expect more of the same Monday. So we'll chase the better price and give the 1.5 runs with Houston here.
Scherzer is scheduled to get the start in this game, and while he had a perfect inning of relief in Game 2, his last three starts have not been overly impressive. On the other side of the coin, Ryu has not allowed any earned runs in two of his previous three starts, including his last one. The pitching has been solid in the series, as in the two games, only 12 runs have been scored. The Nationals have lost their last four home games when Scherzer has gotten the start and look for that trend to continue. He will not get lit up but give up a few runs while Ryu will have another great start. In another low scoring game in this series, the Dodgers will win in the Nation's Capital and take a 2-1 series lead.
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.