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Nationals vs Cardinals NLCS Game 1 betting picks and predictions: Too early for a must-win?

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Anibal Sanchez faces off against Miles Mikolas in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium on Friday. Just like we all wrote it up. But that doesn’t matter anymore because this is where we are now.

The Nationals come in flying high after taking down the 106-win Dodgers in five games, while the Cardinals might have even more confidence after their 13-1 beat down of the Braves in the deciding game of their division matchup. Now, the Nationals will attempt to advance to their first Fall Classic in franchise history against the team with more World Series titles than anyone in the NL. From the opening pitch to the final out, we break down the best way to wager the odds for Game 1 of the NLCS.



Mikolas taking the ball for the Cardinals in Game 1 isn’t much of a surprise with the way the rotation innings have worked out and for the fact, that the right-hander has been much better pitching at Busch Stadium. He owns a 2.98 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP in 16 starts at home this season.

And while the Cards have definitely been able to but up some crooked numbers during this run, their lineup is arguably the most inconsistent of all the teams that made the postseason. In their three wins in the ALDS they averaged 8.3 runs per game and in the two losses they plated just one run. St. Louis also ranked 23rd in the Bigs when it came to scoring runs in the bottom of the first at just 0.51 per contest.

Sanchez is the type of pitcher that can give this lineup problems. Take the opening frame to be scoreless.

Pick: Run in 1st Inning – No (-120)


Sanchez can give the Cardinals problems by using an effective change up and locating his fastball. Sanchez pitched to a 2.42 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP in his final four starts of the regular season and followed that up with a solid performance in Game 3 of the NLDS where he allowed just one run on four hits with nine strikeouts over five innings. Teams are also hitting below .200 against Sanchez over that five game stretch. And while the Nationals have the better lineup on paper, they’ve done most of their damage after the fifth inning, averaging just 1.5 runs in the first five innings over six postseason games.

Pick: Under 4 First Five Innings (+100)


Mikolas did make two starts against the Nationals this season, and while he only gave up four runs, Washington got to him for 15 hits in 12 innings pitched. Here are the career stats for some of the Nats against Mikolas. Juan Soto is 3-8 (.375), Anthony Rendon is 4-9 (.444) and Howie Kendrick is a ridiculous 8-11 (.727). We’re not sure if Washington can steal game one or not, but we do like them to have more hits in the final box score.

Pick: Most Hits – Nationals (-105)


While we think this one may be low-scoring early on, that could turn around come the later innings. Washington was the third best team in the Bigs when it came to scoring in the sixth inning or later at 2.40 per contest. And if you’re name isn’t Andrew Miller the Cardinals bullpen has shown some blemishes during the postseason.

And everyone knows the issues surrounding the Nats’ pen. The only team with a worse bullpen ERA this season was the Baltimore Orioles. Let that sink in. The postseason hasn’t been much better as they currently have a 6.63 ERA and are allowing opponents to hit .273 against them thus far. With none of their starters expected to come out of the pen in this one, the only reliever that looks reliable right now is Daniel Hudson. This one goes Over late.

Pick: Over 8


That is the exact reason we like the Cardinals in Game 1. The advantage in bullpens is clear right now, and while the Nationals starters may give them the edge by series end, in this one the Cardinals will have a leg up. While it seems overblown to call a Game 1 must-win, with the gauntlet of Nationals starters staring them in the face in the next three games, it would be a big problem if they dropped this one. The Cardinals are also 21-9 in their last 30 games at Busch Stadium. Those angles give St. Louis the edge in Game 1.

Pick: Cardinals -130

Verlander injury shuffles Astros’ MLB futures odds

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MLB betting got a shake-up Sunday afternoon, specifically on World Series odds and AL pennant odds, with news that Astros star pitcher Justin Verlander could miss the rest of the season – or at least a significant chunk of it – with an arm injury.

Initial reports suggested Verlander had an elbow ailment, but both he and manager Dusty Baker quickly denied that. Baker called it a forearm strain and said that Verlander would be re-evaluated in “a couple of weeks.” The reigning AL Cy Young winner pitched a solid six innings in an 8-2 Opening Day rout of the Seattle Mariners on Friday.

Verlander’s injury led oddsmakers to shuffle futures book odds on the defending AL champions. Covers checked in on the MLB odds moves with a couple of Las Vegas sportsbooks.

How does Verlander’s injury affect Astros’ World Series odds?

At CG Technology books, risk analyst Rich Zanco said the Astros quickly moved from +1,200 to +1,800 in World Series futures. The SuperBook at Westgate also had Houston pegged +1,200 prior to Sunday’s news and initially went to +1,600, then dialed it a little further to +1,800.

However, there were apparently buyers on the Astros at that point, prompting the SuperBook to reel the price in to +1,400.

How does Verlander’s injury affect Astros’ American League odds?

In AL pennant futures, the Astros initially moved from +600 to +800 at The SuperBook, then ticked back to +700.

World Series odds

Team Odds to win
Los Angeles Dodgers +350
New York Yankees +350
Houston Astros +600
Atlanta Braves +1,600
Minnesota Twins +1,600
Tampa Bay Rays +1,800
Washington Nationals +2,000
Cleveland Indians +2,000
New York Mets +2,000
Chicago Cubs +2,000
Oakland Athletics +2,000
St. Louis Cardinals +2,500
Cincinnati Reds +2,500
San Diego Padres +2,500
Philadelphia Phillies +3,000
Chicago White Sox +3,000
Los Angeles Angels +3,000
Milwaukee Brewers +4,000
Boston Red Sox +5,000
Arizona Diamondbacks +6,000
Colorado Rockies +8,000
Toronto Blue Jays +10,000
Texas Rangers +10,000
Pittsburgh Pirates +20,000
Detroit Tigers +20,000
San Francisco Giants +30,000
Seattle Mariners +30,000
Miami Marlins +30,000
Baltimore Orioles +30,000
Kansas City Royals +30,000

Odds courtesy The SuperBook

MLB picks and predictions for Opening Day

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It was a long and scary road, but we finally get MLB betting back on Thursday, July 23. Opening Day of the pandemic-shortened 60-game baseball schedule is headlined by a pair of matchups, with the New York Yankees visiting the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers rekindling their rivalry with the San Francisco Giants.

Like we do each MLB season (COVID-19 or not), we’ll be taking a swing at today’s baseball odds and giving our best MLB picks and predictions. Up first: Opening Day 2020.

MLB picks for today

New York Yankees vs Washington Nationals

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was supposed to miss the start of the season back in the spring, but the delay to the 2020 campaign allowed the outfielder to heal up from broken ribs and return to his longball-launching self.

Judge looked great in New York’s warmup games, albeit for a limited number of at-bats. He went 3-for-7 with all three hits leaving the ballpark. And he wasn’t alone, with the Yankees’ other power bats providing plenty of pop around him in the order. He’ll get a chance to go yard again on Opening Day.

PREDICTION: Aaron Judge home run (+210)

San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers

The Giants are no strangers to Clayton Kershaw, who has long dominated the Dodgers’ divisional foes. In 49 career appearances against San Francisco, The Claw is 23-12 with a 1.74 ERA and has allowed just 0.71 hits per innings pitched in those starts.

The Giants don’t pose much of an offensive threat, averaging 8.22 hits per game in 2019. San Francisco has managed 45 total hits in its last eight starts against Kershaw – an average of 0.86 hits per inning faced. Given the Dodgers’ ace looked ready for work in his tune-up efforts, we could see him go seven innings or more on Thursday, panning out to a little over six hits for San Fran.

PREDICTION: Giants between 6-7 total hits (+235)

Mookie Betts has reportedly landed a whale of a contract extension with the Dodgers after joining the ballclub this offseason via a trade with the Boston Red Sox. And what better way to lock down that deal than an impressive effort on Opening Day.

Betts recorded 313 total bases in 2019 (30th) and 353 in 2018 (fourth). He’s been swinging well in training sessions this offseason: in 27 at-bats during the spring/summer schedule, he has 13 total bases, including two doubles and a home run, while hitting leadoff during Summer Camp. We like that to continue into Opening Day.

PREDICTION: Mookie Betts two or more total bases (-182)

Top MLB consensus for today

Want to know who today’s biggest MLB betting and consensus bets are right now? Check out our top MLB consensus picks.

Opening Day betting card

  • Aaron Judge home run (+210)
  • Giants between 6-7 total hits (+235)
  • Mookie Betts two or more total bases (-182)