- El Niño ‘97
Just to recap my previous picks from October 2nd, I came out scalding hot nailing all three bets for the Marlins vs. Cubs game. Sixto Sanchez hit the over 4 K’s mark in just the 3rd inning, while Yu Darvish kept the game close only allowing 2 runs over 6.2 innings pitched clinching the under 7 runs line with ease. The bet of the day was the Marlins at +180 odds taking Game 2 and moving on to the NLDS to face their the division rival the Atlanta Braves. I decided to not give any picks out for the Padres vs. Cardinals game because of the late starting pitcher announcement by the Pads. I will be coming out with a NLDS preview tomorrow along with picks for each Game 1 on Tuesday.
Now let’s get to the opening games for the ALCS slate!
Houston Astros (+130) vs. Oakland Athletics (-140)
The Astros are sending Lance McCullers to the mound instead of Zack Greinke to start the series off. After a shaky start to the year, McCullers finished the regular season not giving up an earned run in his last 17.2 innings pitched and that does not include the one game he pitched this year against the A’s on August 29th where he spread 6 hits over 6 innings of work while striking out 7 and allowing only 1 earned run. He has also shown success in his postseason career with a 2.53 ERA over 32 innings of work and only 19 hits allowed (1.00 WHIP).
As all those stats look great, he hasn’t pitched in a game since September 26th, so you have to wonder if he will be as sharp as he would be on normal 5 days rest. Moving on to the A’s starting pitcher Chris Bassitt, we have a lot more dirt to kick off the spikes. Has Chris been pitching well as of late? Absolutely. However, I see some regression to the mean in his near future. In 3 starts this season against Houston, he posted a 2.65 ERA over 17 innings of work but, allowed 16 hits.
Going back to 2019, Bassitt produced a 5.00 ERA over 3 starts, allowing 19 hits and 10 earned runs over 18 innings of work. Seeing the correlation of hits to innings pitched from one year to the other, it seems that there has been a little bit of luck involved with Bassitt’s success this season, especially against the Astros. Lastly, Altuve, Bregman, Correa, Springer, Gurriel & Brantley over their careers have combined to hit .307 with a .346 OBP against Bassitt.
Despite the extra few days rest, I see McCullers picking up right where he left off to the end the regular season. Couple that with the A’s batting an anemic .197 last series without their star third baseman Matt Chapman, Lance will have an advantageous opportunity to get his team a 1-0 series lead. Meanwhile, I expect Bassitt to come crashing back down to Earth against an Astros team who has hit him well throughout his career.
Houston Astros (+130) and/or Houston Astros First 5 Innings (+115)
Under 8.5 runs (-120)
New York Yankees (-145) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (+135)
We get both teams horses right out of the gate for Game 1... what more could you ask for? Both Blake Snell and Gerrit Cole were lights out in their ALWC starts, striking out a combined 22 batters over 13.2 innings. While Cole struggled in 2 out of 3 starts against the Rays this year, he’s returned to his dominant self in his last 5 starts going 4-1 with a 1.32 ERA while compiling 47 K’s over 34 innings.
As for Snell, going back to the beginning of last season, he has faced the Yankees 7 times and held them to 2 runs or fewer in 5 of those starts. He is also coming off a stellar one hit performance against the Blue Jays in the Wild Card Series. While the pitching match up for Game 1 is too close to call, I can’t say the same for these two teams offensively. Over the last two weeks, the Yankees are batting .278 while averaging over 7 runs per game. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, have a batting average of .232 while averaging 4 runs per contest over the same span.
With the Yanks finally being able to field a healthy squad consistently for the first time all year last series, look for their bats to stay hot and be the deciding factor in this pitcher’s dual. I see Cole going 7+ strong with Snell seeing his usual 5 to 6 innings pitched due to a high pitch count and a few too many walks. Yanks will take the 1-0 series lead with their Ace on the mound while the Bronx Bombers prove that they indeed have the most potent lineup in the MLB when healthy.
New York Yankees (-145)