Tuesday, July 16, 2024

MLB picks, best bets for baseball playoffs: Trea Turner keeps streak going, Rangers score more on the road

Through two rounds of the playoffs, we got zero do-or-die games. All Wild Card Series were two-game sweeps and then we had two sweeps and two four-game series in the best-of-five divisional round. Hopefully there’s more series-level drama in the LCS round. 

Monday, we’re treated to two games and in all likelihood, they won’t overlap. It’s always good to be able to give full focus to each game and let’s grab a little action while we’re at it. I’m 16-10 so far here in the playoffs. 

Rangers (+103) at Astros (-122), 4:37 p.m. ET

Starting pitchers: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (12-5, 3.63) vs. LHP Framber Valdez (12-11, 3.45)

The Rangers jumped out to a 1-0 series lead with a win in Minute Maid Park in Game 1 of the ALCS. It should be noted, again, that the Astros haven’t been good at home this season. They were 39-42 in the regular season and are now 1-2 there in the playoffs. The Rangers are now 6-0 in the playoffs with five of those games being on the road. 

The play: Rangers over 3.5 runs (-135)

The combination of Eovaldi and the Astros offense at home is a “stay away” from me at this point. There’s a distinct possibility that Eovaldi deals and shuts down the Astros while their offensive woes at home continue, but he still has only thrown well twice since a disastrous finish to the season and the Astros have plenty of capable bats. 

On the other side, I’d be pretty surprised if the Rangers can’t get to four runs. We’ve seen them hit well on the road this postseason. Valdez threw a no-hitter on Aug. 1 and he posted a 4.29 ERA the rest of the way in the regular season. The Twins knocked him around the yard in Game 2 of the ALDS, too, as he allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings. Looping that in, Valdez has a 7.94 ERA in his four home starts since the no-hitter, and two of those starts were against historically-bad A’s and Royals teams. The Rangers faced Valdez twice in Minute Maid Park this season, scoring five runs in six innings and then six runs in 3 2/3 innings. 

Diamondbacks (+143) at Phillies (-168), 8:07 p.m. ET

Starting pitchers: RHP Zac Gallen (17-9, 3.47) vs. RHP Zack Wheeler (13-6, 3.61)

The 90-win Phillies are the defending NL champs and overwhelming favorites here against the upstart Diamondbacks. The D-backs are a very capable ballclub and just went 5-0 in the first two rounds of the playoffs, with four of those wins coming on the road. The Phillies were 49-32 at home during the regular season and are 4-0 at home so far in the playoffs, though, in what has to be considered the best home-field advantage left in the playoffs. The Diamondbacks won two of three in Philly this season, though, while the Phillies then won three of four in Arizona.

The plays: Phillies over 3.5 runs (-135), Trea Turner over 1.5 H+R+RBI (-160)

It’s Vibe Central in Citizens Bank Park and this offense is pretty reliable right now. Sure, they only scored three runs in Game 4 last round, but they’ve gotten to four runs in three of their four home playoff games. In the regular season, the Phillies averaged 5.16 runs per game at home. 

Speaking of the regular season, Gallen had a 2.47 ERA at home and it was 4.42 on the road. He has been able to limit damage in his two playoff starts (3.18 ERA), but there was a lot of traffic (1.32 WHIP) and the Phillies’ offense will be better at taking advantage of baserunners than the Brewers and Dodgers were. Gallen’s history in this ballpark is rough (4.38 ERA) and the Phillies ended up scoring six runs in his start there this past season. 

As for Turner, I know there’s a lot of juice on this one and that might turn some people off. Not me. I’ve gone 6-0 on this prop in Phillies games so far this postseason and I’m not coming off Trea as a play until he fails to cash it. This isn’t random. He’s the most locked-in hitter on the planet right now. He hit .339 with a .677 slugging percentage in his last 47 regular-season games. In those games, he collected 64 hits, 41 RBI and 42 runs, an average of 3.12 H+R+RBI per game. So far in the playoffs this season, he’s hitting .500 with a .917 slugging percentage. He has 12 hits, five runs and three RBI (3.33 H+R+RBI per game). 

He’s our horse and we’re riding until he bucks us. 

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