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Looking for value as MLB one-game playoffs open

By Dave Tuley  ( senior reporter) 

October 3, 2017 04:12 PM
LAS VEGAS–The MLB playoffs starts tonight with the AL wild-card game and Wednesday night’s NL wild-card game.
I’m not a big fan of the one-game playoff after a 162-game season, but that’s the hand we’re dealt and we’ll try to find a winning wager after a few paragraphs.
World Series futures (South Point)
  • Indians 9-5 (plus 180 as ML)
  • Dodgers 14-5 (plus 280 as ML)
  • Astros 4-1
  • Cubs 8-1
  • Nationals 8-1
  • Red Sox 9-1
  • Yankees 9-1
  • Diamondbacks 14-1
  • Twins 25-1
  • Rockies 30-1
The Indians, who nearly beat the Cubs in last year’s historic World Series, are the 9-5 favorites at the South Point to end their own title drought. The Dodgers, with the best record in baseball at 104-58 despite an 11-game losing streak last month, are the second choice at 14-5, followed by the Astros at 4-1 and the Cubs and Nationals (who face each other in the divisional playoffs starting Friday) at 8-1.
I don’t see any good value on the futures board. The prop I would like to see is “Will the Cubs-Nationals series winner go on to win the World Series?”
Of course, we can do virtually the same thing by betting both teams’ at 8-1 and having basically 4.5-1 on our investment for the surviving team (note: you can also do better by shopping around for better odds on each team).
Normally, I eschew fixed-odds futures like these because you can almost always get a better payoff by taking the series price in a team’s first series and parlaying your winnings onto each subsequent series (or game-by-game in single-elimination tournaments such as the NFL playoffs or March Madness).
So if you like one of the above teams but don’t think you’re getting fair value on the futures, consider the series prices first. We’ll look at the divisional playoffs’ series prices as well as Game 1s when we post our next MLB article on Thursday.
Back to the wild-card games…
Minnesota Twins (o/u 7.5 under -120) at New York Yankees (-255)
Anything can happen in a one-game series, so I’m certainly tempted to take the Twins plus 215. At first glance, the price seems like it might be inflated due to the Yankees’ obvious long-winning tradition and bigger fan betting base, however, the Yankees did win the season series 4-2 so the odds just above 2-1 aren’t took juicy. The starting pitching matchup is pretty even with New York’s Luis Severino vs. Minnesota’s Ervin Santana, with maybe a slight edge to Severino, but the Yankees have a big edge with their bullpen. I certainly have a bias toward unders in playoff games (in all sports), but the books obviously see that as the sharp side and are charging between -115 and -120 juice to get the under 7.5. The play: Pass on both side and total (leans to Yankees and under if willing to lay the juice).
Colorado Rockies (o/u 8.5 over -120) at Arizona Diamondbacks (-170)
This is where I’m stepping in with my first game wager as the Rockies are a very live underdog at plus 155. The Diamondbacks did win the season series 11-8, but it was 5-5 in the games in Phoenix. I do respect Arizona starter Zack Greinke (17-7, 3.20 ERA, 1.07 WHIP), but Colorado starter Jon Gray (10-4, 3.67 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) is no slouch and it’s a benefit for the Rockies that they were able to get their ace for this one-game playoff. I’ll also take the Rockies’ lineup over the D-back’s. Colorado had a better batting average on the season at .268 to .251, but after slumping earlier in September, the Rockies hit .285 in the last 10 games of the season (.269 for Arizona) and .304 with runners in scoring position over the last five games, so I’ll take the hotter team, not counting their two losses after they had clinched the second wild-card berth. The play: Rockies plus 155 or better.
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