The season is over and the playoffs are here! We have previewed all four of today’s Division Series playoff games and found our best MLB picks for each!
The two National League series have Game One tonight while the two American League series are playing Game Two, with the Astros and Rays currently holding a 1-0 lead.
Look below to find our free MLB Picks for today’s four Division Series playoff games.
Chicago White Sox @ Houston Astros (Game 2) – 2pm EDT
The Houston Astros dominated yesterday’s proceedings, winning 6-1, not needing to bat in the ninth inning and taking a heap of confidence into today’s Game 2. The Chicago White Sox will need to find something on both sides of the ball if they don’t want to head home facing elimination in Game 3.
There is no denying that Chicago needs to find something here and I reckon they might have. Framber Valdez has been great for Houston this season, as well as previously in the playoffs, but he has been wayward of late. In his five games since the start of September, Valdez has given up 4+ runs on three occasions, including four home runs over that stretch. Given the White Sox couldn’t get a hold of McCullers Jr last night, as predicted, they should take advantage of this opportunity against Valdez tonight.
On the other side, Chicago is starting Lucas Giolito and I think that is a massive positive. He hasn’t given up 4+ runs in each of his last nine starts and in his four games since the start of September, he has only allowed five runs over 20.1 innings of work. That gives Chicago the edge they need to level the series, they just need to pull it all together to win in Minute Maid Field, something they haven’t done in each of their five tries this season.
Tim’s MLB Pick: Chicago White Sox (+104)
Astros take Game 1 against the White Sox 🚀
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 8, 2021
The Astros took out the first game of this Division Series, 6-1, playing at home. They have another game at home before going on the road to Chicago. The White Sox never looked like they had a chance in this game, with the Astros leading from the second innings and never faltered.
Giolito is looking like the pitcher for the White Sox, who had a great regular season, finishing with a 3.53 ERA and 1.10 WHIP across 31 starts. He has a 1.57 ERA across his three starts against the Astros. The White Sox are one of the best teams in the league offensively, and they have managed to hold their opponents to 3.93 runs per game on average.
The Astros will be looking to left handed pitcher Valdez to get them on track for another win on Friday night. He has a 3.14 ERA and 1.25 WHIP across 22 starts this season. However, he did struggle in his last start against the Athletics, so if he still has the wobbles at the start of this game, I would expect him to be pulled off quick smart. The White Sox may be a good team offensively, but the Astros are the best. They in fact led the league in terms of team batting average, runs, hits, and on-base percentage.
With the Astros getting the win in fairly dominant fashion, I’m thinking it’s safe to say that they are going to do it again tonight. The Astros have won five of their previous seven games against the White Sox, and they have won 10 of their previous 12 games at home playing against the White Sox. Back the Astros again this afternoon.
The White Sox will be in Houston to face the Astros in the second game of their playoff run. The White Sox will be trying to steal a game in Houston from a team that beat them 6-1 in the first game of the series. A loss here would put the White Sox in dangerous territory. At the very least, the White Sox want to show some strength against the Astros before going home and playing the Astros in game 3. Things are looking good for the Astros who won decisively and put earlier worries away with the blowout. The Astros will try to replicate their regular season form which saw them beat the White Sox 5 times in 7 meetings.
In this crucial game the Astros will be going with Framber Valdez. Valdez had a 3.14 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and just 125 strikeouts in the regular season. Valdez has been decent against the White Sox with 7 runs allowed in 13 innings this season against them. The White Sox on the other hand will be starting their best pitcher, Lucas Giolito. Giolito has a decent 3.53 ERA and 201 strikeouts in the regular season. I’d say the pitching is even here but the Astros hold a significant edge pitching wise so I’m leaning toward the Astros here.
Mike’s MLB Pick: Houston Astros (-122)
Atlanta Braves @ Milwaukee Brewers (Game 1) – 4.30pm EDT
The NLDS kicks off with the NL Central-winning Milwaukee Brewers hosting the NL East-winning Atlanta Braves. There was a seven game difference between the sides in the standings, with Milwaukee finishing as the #2 seed in the National League however the two sides split the six games during the regular season.
This is poised to be an interesting clash but it is hard to look past the Brewers in this clash. They were the much better side all season and were buoyed by a bullpen that is the second best in the postseason. Milwaukee finished third in ERA and fourth in WHIP of all teams during the regular season and the Burnes-Woodruff-Peralta combination is as good as any. Burnes is the one getting the nod for this afternoon’s opener and he definitely gives the Brewers the edge. In his 28 starts this season, Burnes finished with an 11-5 record, 2.43 ERA and 0.94 WHIP.
The one query, and spot where Atlanta may have an argument, is that he is yet to start in a postseason game in his career while Charlie Morton, Atlanta’s starter, has started in 12 and has a 7-3 record in those games. Add in the fact that the Braves finished the regular season with a better record on the road compared to at home, while Milwaukee weren’t as good at home too, Atlanta has some claims in this one.
Despite this, Milwaukee look too good for this clash. We saw the winner’s in last night ALDS games hold their opponents to a combined one run, meaning pitching is everything and Burnes, plus the rest of the Brewers’ crew, have the edge and my bet.
Tim’s MLB Pick: Milwaukee Brewers / Under 7.5 (+190)
𝐍𝐋 𝐂𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐦𝐩𝐬
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) September 26, 2021
It is the Braves and the Brewers turn to battle it out in the first game of their postseason. The Brewers are the current favorites to take out this clash and will play at home for the first two games before heading over to Atlanta. The Braves had a pretty good run to the end of the regular season and they won eight of their last 10 games. The Brewers on the other hand are probably looking for a little bit of confidence in this game, as in the last 10 games of the regular season, they only won four.
The Braves have Morton on the mound, and he is an experienced pitcher, who this season has a 3.34 ERA and an impressive 1.04 WHIP, along with a 14-6 record in 185.2 innings! When looking at his games specifically against the Brewers, he has a 3.53 ERA as well as a 3-2 record in seven starts. The Braves are getting the job done when it counts, and made up for a lackluster first half of the season, to drastically improve and make the playoffs. I’m liking the look of batter Swanson to take it to the Brewers, like he has all season, which includes getting two homers as well as 10 RBI’s in 22 occasions at the plate.
The Brewers will have Burnes starting on the mound, and he has a better ERA compared to Morton. He has a 2.43 ERA along with a 0.94 WHIP for a 11-5 record in 167 innings pitched. Unfortunately for Burnes, he has been the starter for the Brewers against the Braves once, and it didn’t turn out well for him. The Brewers are getting a lot of postseason experience and have made it to the playoffs four seasons in a row.
The one game the Burnes had pitched against the Braves is enough to make me question whether they can win, and with the Braves at better odds, I’m willing to take the chance and get some value. The Brewers also struggled greatly in September, while the Braves flourished. I’ll be on the Braves tonight.
Katherine’s MLB Pick: Atlanta Braves (+132)
The Braves head to Milwaukee to face the Brewers in the first game of their playoff run. The Braves will be trying to prove all the doubters wrong as they had the worst record out of all division winners and the only division winner to have less than 90 wins.. The Braves did finish the regular season strong with a 8-2 record in their last 10 games as the Phillies were chasing them for the division lead. The Braves also fared well against the Brewers in the regular season splitting the 6 game series with 3 wins against the Brewers. In this game the Braves will be starting Charlie Morton. Morton has a 1.04 WHIP, 3.34 ERA and 216 strikeouts. However, the Brewers definitely have the edge here as they start Corbin Burnes. Burnes has been one of the best in the league and is top 5 in most key pitching stats. Although the Brewers finished the season poorly with 4 wins in their last 10 games, they have been playing the very best teams in the league and will likely be more adapted to the game speed and importance of playoff baseball. A win here for the Braves would definitely set the tone going forward, but I think the Brewers will just be too strong.
Mike’s MLB Pick: Milwaukee Brewers -1.5 (+145)
Boston Red Sox @ Tampa Bay Rays (Game 2) – 7pm EDT
Following their dominant 5-0 win last night, the Tampa Bay Rays will look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead when they host the Boston Red Sox again tonight. This game is massive for the way the series plays out, as Boston will want to do everything in their power to head home with a split, giving themselves the chance to potentially close the series out at home in four.
This is a very interesting matchup. Tampa Bay have taken a 1-0 lead and are deploying Shane Baz for this one, who has three career games to his name. Meanwhile Boston are pulling out their $30M man, Chris Sale, who has seen just nine games this season after Tommy John surgery during the season.
Sale’s nine games saw him return a 5-1 record, 3.16 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, all very impressive numbers and should see him hold his own in this matchup. The area I’m worried about with him is that he started incredibly well but has given up seven runs over his last three games, across just 12.2 innings of work. He also has career postseason stats of a 1-2 record and 5.76 ERA from seven games, four starts.
However, he does have some postseason experience, unlike Baz. The 2017 #12 pick made his debut towards the end of the season and has performed extremely well, giving up just three runs over his three games, in 13.1 innings of work. He held extremely good batting lineups in Toronto and the Yankees to just two and one runs respectively, meaning he is well tested for this clash.
However, despite the Rays winning 5-0 last night, Boston had three more hits (9-6) in the game and just weren’t able to capitalize on that. Given they have a three-game rookie pitching to them tonight, I expect a better performance from Boston and I’m going with the upset.
Tim’s MLB Pick: Boston Red Sox (+116)
— MLB (@MLB) October 8, 2021
The Rays were completely dominant in the first game, and they didn’t even give the Red Sox a sniff of a chance to get back into the game. The Rays will play another game at home before travelling over to Boston, and they would be desperate to go over with a 2-0 series record. The Red Sox four game winning streak is over and they will look to ways they can get back to winning and simply just being able to get a run on the board.
The Red Sox have scored only 13 runs in their previous three games, and in five of their previous 10 games they have scored three or less runs. When they have scored three or less runs they have lost eight games in a row. So this is key for them, getting their offense working. The Red Sox have won 19 of their previous 26 games played on a Friday, and have won six of their previous seven when it comes to the second game of a series.
The Rays have been on a scoring mission and have scored 17 runs in their previous three games. They have also scored four or greater runs in six of their previous 10 clashes in total. When the Rays have scored four or more runs, they have won 10 games in a row! The Rays have won 11 of their previous 13 games on a Friday, and 39 of their previous 56 when it comes to the second game of a series.
The Rays were a great team in the regular season, and it looks like they have stepped up into another gear in the postseason! With the Rays winning seven of their previous nine meetings against the Red Sox in Tampa Bay, and 11 of their previous 15 meetings in total against the Red Sox, I’m leaning towards another Rays victory here.
The Rays manhandled the Red Sox in game 1 of their playoff series and look to do so again. The Red Sox looked out of sorts failing to score a single run despite having one of the best hitting units in the league. This poor batting performance carries on from their poor late season showing in the regular season. After that last game I am not particularly optimistic about the Red Sox to pull out a win in Tampa. The Red Sox bullpen has just been bad and the Rays exposed that. In this game the Red Sox will be starting Chris Sale who has a good 3.16 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 52 strikeouts this season. Sale hasn’t been great against the Rays with 7 runs allowed, 16 hits allowed and just 9 strikeouts in innings. This won’t be enough to contain the Rays explosive offense. The Rays will be starting Shane Baz who has been phenomenal in limited time with a 2.03 ERA and 0.68 WHIP in 13 innings. If he can continue this pace, the Red Sox are not going to enjoy game 2. However, I am leaning toward this game going over. 11 of the 19 regular season matchups went overs and I think the Boston hitting unit will do a lot better in this game.
Mike’s MLB Pick: Over 7.5 Runs (+100)
Los Angeles Dodgers @ San Francisco Giants (Game 1) – 9.30pm EDT
The 107-win San Francisco Giants host the 106-win and defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers in Game One of their best of five series tonight. With one game separating the two sides in the standings, one game separated them in their season series as well, with the Giants winning 10-9.
While it took a walk off home run to do it, the Dodgers beat the Cardinals and have progressed to the NLDS. Given they were just a game off having home-field advantage, they deserve to be here, but now they must overcome their NL West rivals, the Giants. While San Francisco won the season series 10-9, the nine games in Oracle Park saw LA escape with a 5-4 record. However, over the last two series between the sides, both in Oracle Park, San Francisco won 2-1 each time and come into this series with the mental edge.
Looking at the pitching, LA’s pitching staff is ranked first of all postseason teams, and of all teams too. The Dodgers bullpen ranked first in the league in both ERA and WHIP this season with Walker Buehler being a main driving force of that. In his 33 starts, Buehler finished with a 16-4 record along with a 2.47 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. When looking at his career postseason stats, Buehler is 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA and 0.99 WHIP from 11 starts.
Compare that to Logan Webb, who has been great for the Giants this season but has faltered of late and has no postseason experience. Over his last five games, Webb had three where he allowed opponents to score 4+ on his watch, indicating that the Dodgers will be able to accumulate against him.
With that in mind, the Dodgers are the bet for me. They are tried and tested when it comes to postseason baseball and have weapons all over the field that San Francisco just can’t compete with. I am worried by the fact that the Giants won each of the last three series against the Dodgers in the regular season, but ultimately the playoffs are a completely different game and that is where LA thrive.
Tim’s MLB Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers (-118)
CHRIS TAYLOR WALK-OFF HOME RUN! THE DODGERS ADVANCE TO PLAY THE GIANTS! pic.twitter.com/ceWZmBPR6V
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) October 7, 2021
The Dodgers got the job done against the Cardinals in the Wild Card game and now the two teams with the best regular season records will face off against each other! This baseball at it’s very best, what more could you want?! The Dodgers have now won eight games in a row and they are hoping to make it nine with a win against the Giants on Friday night. The Giants have also performed well as of late, winning eight of their last 10 games of the regular season.
The Dodgers batting average sits at .244, which puts them 11th in the league, and they scored on average 5.11 runs per game. They will be turning to Turner (pun intended) to get them off to an offensively good start, he has the best batting average in the team, at .278. Buehler was solid in his last start against the Brewers, gave up three hits and only one run in five innings, so the Dodgers will be looking for more of the same when he takes the mound on Friday night.
The Giants needed to put in a stellar performance in September to hold off the Dodgers, who ended up finishing just one game behind them in the regular season, and that’s exactly what they did. Their batting average sits at .249, which puts them seventh in the league and they scored on average 4.96 runs per game. Crawford holds the team’s highest batting average, at .298. Webb is starting on the mound for the Giants, and in his last start against the Padres he gave up six hits and four runs in seven innings. So, the Giants will be looking for a bounce back in this game against a much tougher opponent.
Both teams played really well down the stretch, but if you look at the results of the games between the Dodgers and the Giants, it is the Giants who have the upper hand. The Giants have won six of their previous eight games against the Dodgers. The Dodgers will likely find it hard to score against Webb, which will leave them very frustrated. It also looks like Buehler has struggled slightly when on the road, as he has given up 14 runs in his previous three starts on the road. The Giants offer more value here as well, so I’m picking another upset here.
Katherine’s MLB Pick: San Francisco Giants (+102)
The Giants play the Dodgers in my most anticipated series in the playoffs. These 2 teams are the best in the league and this will be a heavyweight matchup that could go either way. The Dodgers are not going to take it easy as they are starting their best pitchers in game 1 to try and steal a game on the road. The Dodgers are starting Walker Buehler who was the best pitching in baseball this season. Buehler’s 2.47 ERA and 212 strikeouts this season lead the talented Dodgers bullpen. On the other side, the Giants are starting Logan Webb who has a 3.03 ERA and 1.11 WHIP this season. Although he has been good, he is facing one of the league’s best batting units and just isn’t on the same level as Buehler. The Dodgers have the edge here when it comes to pitching. They also have the edge when it comes to batting as the Dodgers but both teams are very close in the rankings. The Giants do have the regular season series edge where they won 10 of the 19 games against the Dodgers. However, the Dodgers won many of their 9 games toward the end of the season suggesting that they are in better form. I have to go with the Dodgers here, but it will be tight.
Mike’s MLB Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers (-118)
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.