The season is over and the postseason is here! We have previewed the two Wild Card Playoff games and found our best MLB picks for each!
Tuesday night sees Boston host New York in a traditional rivalry matchup where only one team can move on, while on Wednesday we have the World Series-favorite LA Dodgers hosting the hottest team in baseball, the Cardinals.
Look below to find our free MLB Picks for the 2021 Wild Card Playoffs!
Tuesday, October 5th
New York Yankees @ Boston Red Sox – 8pm EDT
Well here we are and just how perfect this matchup is. The Boston Red Sox host the New York Yankees in a win-or-go-home Wild Card Playoff. Boston won the season series 10-9 but the Yankees have won the last six, including a 3-0 sweep in Fenway Park just two weeks ago.
It may have taken up until the very last day of the regular season but both the Yankees and the Red Sox deserve their chance at making the Division Series. Boston dominated the AL East for most of the first portion of the season while New York has spent big on power hitters and could out-hit anyone on their night.
Looking at the pitchers for this Wild Card Playoff, the Red Sox have Nathan Eovaldi starting on the hill while New York have Gerrit Cole. Both these pitchers started when these sides met on the 24th of September, a game that saw Eovaldi last just 2.2 innings after giving up seven runs, with the Yankees winning 8-3.
Despite that poor showing, Eovaldi does bring some solid form into the postseason, giving up just eight runs from 29.1 innings of work in his five other games from September. Cole on the other hand allowed just three runs from six innings in that 8-3 win, but gave up 12 runs in the games either side of that, from just 11.2 innings of work. While Cole has better season stats, his leadup has been far from ideal and Eovaldi has the edge on recent form.
However, Cole did start for the Yankees in their AL Wild Card game last season and only allowed two runs from seven innings of work, showing that he has what it takes and isn’t scared of the spotlight that comes with a game like this. New York has some others that like shining on the biggest stage, with their batting lineup being home to some of the biggest hitters in all of baseball. Giancarlo Stanton has a 1.035 OPS from 60 at-bats in his postseason career and has hit a home run in four of his last five games against Boston, including three straight in their last series. When you add in Aaron Judges, Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, the Yankees have some hitting power that I don’t think the Red Sox will be able to match.
This is high-pressure baseball and I believe it will be close, but I am betting with the Yankees here. They are more proven at pitcher, have a better batting lineup and have better recent form over the Red Sox.
Tim’s MLB Pick: New York Yankees (-122)
IT’S YANKEES VS. RED SOX IN A BLOCKBUSTER AL WILD CARD GAME THIS TUESDAY‼️
WINNER-TAKE-ALL 🍿 pic.twitter.com/V2uiH4T8rt
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 3, 2021
Well, wasn’t that a close one! The Wild Card spots in the AL were still open for a few teams right up until the last game of the regular season, but the lucky two teams that made it through are the Yankees and the Red Sox, with the Blue Jays finishing one game behind and the Mariners two games behind. The Yankees and the Red Sox ended up finishing on exactly the same record for the season, which will make this sudden death clash even more tasty.
The Yankees have won five of their previous six games on the road, and have won nine of their previous 12 games in total. As well as this, the Yankees have won four of their previous five clashes played in Boston, and have won all six of their previous meetings with the Red Sox.
The Red Sox have won one of their previous seven games at home when playing a team that has a winning record, and they have won eight of their previous nine playoff games in total. Also, they have won four of their previous five games in total, but have won just one of their previous six games against a team in the AL.
I’m going to side with the Yankees on the road for this one. The Red Sox have not been playing well at home as of late, and the Yankees just know how to beat the Red Sox time and time again. The Red Sox have really struggled to score against the Yankees as of late, and I’m thinking it will be more of the same again in this Wild Card game.
Cole has been great for the Yankees, and in his four games against the Red Sox this season, he has allowed just 12 runs. Cole is built for the postseason and thrives under the pressure, we saw this when he was with the Astros. He will have to overcome a poor performance throughout September, and a difficult last game against the Red Sox, but he is a star who can certainly get the job done.
Eovaldi did have a better September compared to Cole, but in his last game against the Yankees he was completely dominated and allowed seven runs and seven hits in just 2.2 innings. It will be all on the Yankees offense to help keep the pressure off Cole, and I think they are good enough to do that and get the win to progress to the next stage in the playoffs.
The Red Sox and Yankees held onto the incredibly close Wild Card race in the American league, but their journey doesn’t stop there as they now play each other to see who advances. Both teams share the exact same record, with the Red Sox possessing 10 wins which gives them just a 1 game edge in the 2 team’s 19 game regular season series.
The kicker here is that the Yankees have won the last 6 games in a row against the Red Sox in this series, which signals the Yankees improving form throughout the season. In many of the early games which the Red Sox beat the Yankees, the Yankees had key injuries and players out due to COVID. Now the Yankees are at essentially full strength and play a Red Sox team who they have dominated recently.
The Yankees will be starting Gerrit Cole at pitcher for this do or die game. Cole has been great this season with a 3.23 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and a great 16-8 record meaning Cole is equal third in the MLB in wins. The key factor is that Cole has 243 strikeouts this season which is 3rd in the league. Cole will be a formidable opponent for a Red Sox team that has been one of the best in terms of batting all year. On the other side the Red Sox are starting Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi has been solid with a 3.75 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 195 strikeouts this season. In his 6 games against the Yankees this season he has been decent, allowing 15 runs in 34 innings.
In terms of batting, the Yankees have been average this season but have turned it up during the tail end of the year. However, despite this, I think the Red Sox have shown more consistency with their batting throughout the season to give them the edge in this department. Overall I think the Red Sox should pull out the win here as they have home field advantage and only trail with pitching marginally.
Mike’s MLB Pick: Boston Red Sox (+104)
Wednesday, October 6th
St Louis Cardinals @ Los Angeles Dodgers – 8pm EDT
The defending World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers are having to fight for their postseason spot, hosting the red-hot St Louis Cardinals in the National League Wild Card Playoff on Wednesday night. The Dodgers finished with 16 more wins for the season and won the season series 4-3 but the Cardinals claimed the last two between the sides, in mid-September.
While the Cardinals ended the season on a 21-4 run, going from postseason afterthought to one of the hottest teams in the league, the Dodgers aren’t losing this game. They tied a franchise record by winning 106 games this season whilst being just one game back on not having to play in the Wild Card Playoff and having home-field advantage throughout the entire postseason.
This is no disrespect to the Cardinals at all, as they have been extremely impressive over the last month and can definitely make a splash. Adam Wainwright starting on the mound is massive for St Louis, given his season stats of 17-7 with a 3.05 ERA have improved to 5-0 with a 2.89 ERA over his last seven games. However, he has given up seven runs across 10 innings in his last two games whilst allowing four runs, including one homer, in 8.1 innings the last time he played LA.
It is just that I believe in LA more. They are proven, have better pieces on both sides of the ball and despite the Cardinals coming into the postseason on that incredible run, they are actually just 7-3 in their last 10 games while the Dodgers are 9-1. They also have Max Scherzer starting for this clash and as good as Wainwright is, Scherzer is better. With a 15-4 record and 2.46 ERA from his 30 starts this season, Scherzer has been one of the best, if not the best starting pitcher this season.
In his 11 games with LA, after being traded from Washington, Scherzer had a 7-0 record and 1.98 ERA, giving up just 15 earned runs across 68.1 innings of work in 11 games. Those are incredible numbers and he looks primed to lead LA to some more postseason success, starting with this Wild Card Playoff against the Cardinals.
Tim’s MLB Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers / Under 7.5 (+185)
The NL Wild Card game is set.
Cardinals vs. Dodgers on Wednesday 🍿 pic.twitter.com/g4q5KPJSIs
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) October 3, 2021
The Dodgers just couldn’t get past the fantastic Giants to claim top spot in the NL West, which means they have to play this sudden death game with the Cardinals. The Dodgers finished with the second best record in the league, and just one game behind the Giants. The Cardinals comfortably claimed the second Wild Card spot in the NL, thanks to a fantastic September which saw them lose only seven games, and go on a mammoth 17 game winning streak.
The Cardinals have won all five of their previous games against a team in the NL West, and they have won 22 of their previous 27 games on the road. Amazingly, the Cardinals have also won 11 of their previous 12 games when they were the underdogs, and they have won all four of their previous games after having a day off.
Looking at the Dodgers now, they have won 40 of their previous 53 games playing at home, and they have won eight of their previous 10 games played on a Wednesday. Also, the Dodgers have won four of their previous five playoff games at home and they have won seven of their previous nine playoff games in total.
This is an interesting clash, for many reasons, but one of which being the recent road record of the Cardinals and the home record of the Dodgers. The Dodgers are obviously playing at home, and with their season record, they will go into this game as the favorites, but that isn’t a bad thing for the Cardinals as they also have a great record when they are the underdogs. I really think this one could go either way, so looking for something of value, I’m going to take a chance on the Cardinals!
Scherzer for the Dodgers hasn’t inspired much confidence in his previous couple of games, giving up 10 earned runs on 17 hits, three home runs and a walk over, over the space of 10.1 frames. He will need to return to his usual amazing self if the Dodgers stand any chance of beating the Cardinals.
Wainwright for the Cardinals had a bit of a hiccup against the Brewers, but in his last four games he has two or less earned runs in three of them. So, if the Cardinals can take advantage of a nervous Scherzer and get some runs on the board early, this could be a Cardinals victory.
Outside of their losses in the last 2 games of the year, the Cardinals have been one of the best teams in baseball down the stretch. They had an insane 17 game winning streak to get themselves into the playoffs and have been some of the best teams in the league to get there. Now they face a Dodgers team that is full of talent and has arguably been the best team in the MLB this season despite playing in the Wild Card game.
The two teams have only met twice this season, with the Dodgers possessing a slight edge with 4 wins in the 7 total games. The notable thing in the 7 games in the series is the games only go one of 2 ways, the Dodgers absolutely destroy the Cardinals or the Cardinals win in a tight game by 1 run. I think the first scenario will be at play in this Wild Card game.
The Dodgers will be starting the league’s best pitcher Max Scherzer. Scherzer has been a force this season and ranks top 5 in essentially all key pitching statistics and top 3 in many of the aforementioned categories. Scherzer possesses a 2.46 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 236 strikeouts this year in just 179 innings. This is crazy production and a key reason why I think the Dodgers will win. Although Scherzer has faltered a little down the stretch, I trust him to bring out the big guns and pull out a big win here.
The Cardinals won’t be lying down though with the starting of Adam Wainwright at pitcher. Wainwright has been great this season with a 3.05ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 174 strikeouts leading to a 17-7 record. Wainwright will be a tough opponent for the Dodgers’ top 5 batting unit. Despite this, with everything considered, I think it is foolish to think this will go in any direction except a Dodgers win.
Mike’s MLB Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers -1.5 (+104)
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.