How impressive that seven teams from the AL Central and NL Central divisions made the MLB playoffs. Equally impressive is that not one of them could get past the Wild Card round and into the Division Series. Going 0-7 is no easy feat. Let’s hope that’s not where you put your money.
Sans the Central divisions, the postseason rolls on, where it’s now a best-of-five to decide who is moving on. And for the first time this season, baseball has bubbles, with the American League playing all of its games in San Diego and Los Angeles, and the National League playing in Houston and Arlington, Texas.
In a season that only saw teams play against opponents in their own division, each of these series features an intra-division matchup.
New York Yankees (-148) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (+120)
The Yankees lost the AL East to the Rays by seven games, and in the head-to-head meetings, Tampa Bay won eight of 10. So how are the Rays the underdog in this division series?
It’s not as though the Yankees finished strong. They lost six of their final eight – a stretch without a single home run from Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gleyber Torres.
They did look good against Cleveland, but in a longer series, one big game has less impact. These teams don’t like each other, and it will be a great series, but the value rests in Tampa Bay playing as the dog.
Houston Astros (+100) vs. Oakland A’s (-121)
The A’s have been one of the best pitching staffs all season long, while the Astros have seen their offense struggle when compared to previous years. Oakland took the AL West from Houston, they won seven of 10 regular-season meetings, and they will win this series.
Houston’s “we don’t need trash cans” 2020 tour will come to a close in the next five games.
San Diego Padres (+175) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (-223)
With so many exciting young players, the desire to see the Padres take this series the distance is strong. But the Dodgers remain the favorite to win the World Series, and it’s easy to see why.
Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw are an incredible 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, and just in case the pitching isn’t dominant, Los Angeles scored a baseball-best 349 runs.
One of these days, the Padres will get there. But not in this series.
Miami Marlins (+275) vs. Atlanta Braves (-358)
During the regular season, the Braves finished second in the National League in runs and home runs, but just shut out the Reds in 22 innings over a two-game sweep.
We know the Braves can crush the ball. But if they continue to pitch as they did in the Wild Card, they might be the team to beat Los Angeles, and they definitely won’t lose to the Marlins.
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