The Nationals stole Game 1 of the NLCS thanks to an outstanding performance from Anibal Sanchez. And now the Cardinals have to deal with Max Scherzer, while Masahiro Tanaka toes the rubber against Zack Greinke in Game 1 of the ALCS. We break down the odds for both of these contests with in-depth analysis, betting notes and predictions in our MLB postseason Line Drive.
WASHINGTON NATIONALS AT ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (+125, 7 @ BETAMERICA)
Nationals lead series 1-0
The Nationals will send ace Max Scherzer to the mound for Game 2. Scherzer went 11-7 with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.03 ERA during the regular season. In the postseason he’s pitched to a 2.77 ERA with 16 strikeouts through 13 innings.
Adam Wainwright gets the start for St. Louis. The 38-year-old went 14-10 with a 4.19 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP during the season but he had some of the most extreme home/road splits in the majors. At home he was terrific with a 9-4 record and a 2.56 ERA.
Wainwright pitched against the Nationals twice during the regular season. He allowed two runs through 6 1-3 innings in a 3-2 victory on the road back in April, and threw seven innings of shutout ball at home against the Nats last month.
With two strong pitchers on the hill, the Under looks like the smart play. But Washington’s bullpen, which had a 5.66 ERA during the regular season and has a 6.63 ERA during the postseason, gives me pause for concern. Especially against a St. Louis lineup that isn’t consistent but can go off in an inning. Don’t forget that 14 of the 26 runs they scored in their five-game NL Division Series came in two innings.
We’re much more confident in taking the Under on the first five innings.
Pick: Under 3.5 First Five Innings
NEW YORK YANKEES AT HOUSTON ASTROS (-160, 9 @ BETAMERICA)
Series tied 0-0
The American League’s best do battle for the Pennant as Game1 of the ALCS sees the 107-win Houston Astros host the 106-win New York Yankees.
The Yankees made an interesting decision by handing the ball to Masahiro Tanaka for Game 1. With all the rest between series for the Yanks, they essentially could have gone with any starter, but chose the Japanese right-hander despite his struggles on the road.
Tanaka had a 6.05 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP away from Yankee Stadium, but New York is trusting in his recent track record against the Astros and his postseason excellence. Tanaka has a 2.32 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP in his last five starts against the Astros, which includes three games at Minute Maid Park.
But its his postseason stats that are truly outstanding. Tanaka owns a 1.54 ERA, a 0.80 WHIP and is limiting opponents to a .164 batting average in six playoff starts.
Meanwhile, the Astros counter with ace No. 3 in Zack Greinke. The cerebral right-hander has been a little more inconsistent than we’re used to since getting traded to the Astros, but he’s still capable of throwing a gem at any time. Greinke actually faced the Yankees twice this season as a member of the Diamondbacks, allowing just three runs on seven hits over 12.2 inning pitched.
Despite the fact this is a matchup of the two best lineups in baseball, we’re going with Game 1 being a pitcher’s duel.
Pick: Under 9
POSTSEASON STARTER STAT OF THE DAY
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals (14-10, 4.19 ERA, $486): Wainwright is obviously the elder statesman of the Cardinals rotation and they’re banking on his postseason experience giving them an edge in Game 2. The right-hander has a career 2.79 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in 25 postseason appearances. While in the NLCS he owns a 2.51 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. He can keep the Nats Under their team total in this one.
SCHERZER VS A PAIR OF STREAKING SLUGGERS
The Cardinals top two sluggers both had an incredible series against the Braves in the NLDS. Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna went a combined 18 for 42 at the plate, with seven doubles and four homers.
Over his career though, Goldschmidt has been absolutely owned by Scherzer. The six-time All-Star has just two hits (both singles) and one walk in 25 at bats against Scherzer. Ozuna has more success against Scherzer; racking up 10 hits, including two homers and five doubles in 36 plate appearances versus the Nationals flame-thrower.
BLUSTERY AT BUSCH?
It will be a little warmer for Game 2 of the NLCS after a bit of a chilly night in St. Louis for Game 1. Temperatures are forecast in the high 50’s for game time, but bettors should take note that hitters could be given a hand by mother nature in this one. There is expected to be a 10 mile per hour wind gusting straight out to center field. The total is currently 7.
BUCKING THE CS TRENDS
Both the Yankees and Astros don’t have pleasant experiences in the Championship Series. The Astros are 0-4 in their last four League Championship games after dropping four straight to Boston last season, while the Yankees are just 2-12 in their last 14 ALCS road games. With the home team claiming six of the seven meetings between these two juggernauts, we’re leaning towards the Astros in Game 1.