Picks, predictions, odds for playoff slate

October 12th, 2021

A version of this article originally appeared on DraftKings. For more betting insights, check out DraftKings.com.

Bad weather gave Chicago an extra day to breathe, but it’s also given the Astros a chance to turn to Lace McCullers again. Can White Sox hitters give Carlos Rodón enough room to operate, or will the lefty have to be near perfect to keep his team alive?

And what about the reigning World Series champs? Can they recover from Monday’s tough 1-0 loss? Here’s how I’m approaching Tuesday's MLB Playoffs action via DraftKings Sportsbook.

If you want to sweat out these picks with me, follow me on Twitter: @Nick_Friar.

The White Sox certainly put on a good show in Game 3, but that’s not something that’ll send Houston into a spiral. The ALDS is old hat for the Astros at this point. Plus, they have extra motivation after Ryan Tepera accused them of sign-stealing at Minute Maid Park — after the Astros just put up six runs in their Game 3 loss in Chicago. If they were stealing signs in Houston, I wonder how the Astros managed to put up very similar numbers against lefties at home and on the road this season — both sets were good, by the way.

Not that I expect Houston to hit Carlos Rodón around on Tuesday. He did shut them down the only time he saw them in 2021. But, I don’t expect he’ll have an easy day against one of the lineups that ranks among the top six against lefties on the road in wOBA, ISO, OPS and wRC+ since Sept. 1.

Furthermore, Lance McCullers has taken care of business vs. the White Sox this year. Will he replicate his Game 1 start? Probably not — he was lights out. But, he’s given us no reason to expect he won’t churn out another strong outing vs. the White Sox. In fact, if you look at his home-road splits, he’s more likely to put up zeroes away from Houston.

Editor’s Note: Braves SP Charlie Morton will start today vs. the Brewers.

Yet another win-or-go-home game, yet another team not pitching their best starter to extend their season.

While taking the Braves on the run line (+140) is a legitimate option, it’s hard to bank on their lineup giving the pitching staff a cushion with what Atlanta hitters have done this series. Of course, the Braves have won by two-plus runs in each of the last two games. I just can’t imagine the Brewers doing absolutely nothing for a third consecutive game. They’re a middling offense at best, but they have to score again before this series is over.

That said, the under on the game total will also be in play. Pitching has dominated this series, making it near impossible to envision a game where the two teams combine for seven runs, let alone nine.

The Braves crushed right-handed pitching, but things have clearly slowed down a bit, and they weren’t much better than the Brewers against lefties in any of the major statistical categories (OPS, ISO, wOBA and wRC+) throughout the regular season. In fact, turning to Eric Lauer on Tuesday was probably in Milwaukee's best interest — never thought I’d say that. The Braves did tag him in his only start against them back in May, but he turned a corner in September. More importantly, Atlanta ranked among the five worst teams in OPS, ISO, wOBA and wRC+ against left-handed pitching during the last month of the regular season.

Seems crazy to think the Dodgers would lose back-to-back home playoff games, but I have zero apprehensions about this pick after they wasted a Max Scherzer gem against a lefty L.A. tagged twice in three chances during the regular season. Anthony DeSclafani isn’t above getting hit around by the Dodgers lineup, but he also completely shut them down twice in the regular season — including the last time he saw them on Sept. 3 (two hits over six scoreless innings), which happened to be a road trip for the Giants.

Best-case scenario for the Dodgers, Tuesday’s starters are a push. The Giants are one of the best lineups against right-handed pitching, and Tony Gonsolin (whether he starts or is the bulk guy) knows that first-hand. San Francisco jumped on him for three runs in the first inning of a July 19 matchup thanks to a Buster Posey two-run bomb followed directly by a Wilmer Flores solo shot.

Now, Giants relievers have also stepped up in a big way this series, too. While Logan Webb and Alex Wood combined for 12 1/3 shutout innings between their two starts, San Francisco’s bullpen held down the fort for the remaining 5 2/3 frames in those shutout wins. But the Giants lineup has to break through at some point. This is a group that’s led all of baseball in OPS (.895), wOBA (.381) and wRC+ (139) against righties on the road since the start of September.

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