Betting preview for the MLB playoffs
The 2023 Major League Playoffs begin and the top four teams in the National and American League get byes into the divisional round. The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers are also the two favorites to win the World Series as the MLB Playoffs begin. The Houston Astros and Baltimore Orioles are next, and the Astros stole the AL West from the Texas Rangers on the final weekend of the season with four straight wins to capture their fourth-straight AL West title. The Rangers coughed up the division and lead in the final week losing 4-of-6 to close the season, and now have to hit the road at Tampa Bay in the best-of-3 Wild Card Round. The home team hosts all three games of the series if necessary.
MLB Wild Card Series Odds
Leading online sportsbook BetUS has series and opening game odds and pitching matchups posted. We'll add some picks and opinions as well.
- Texas Rangers (+130) at Tampa Bay Rays (-160)
- Toronto Blue Jays (-110) at Minnesota Twins (-120)
- Miami Marlins (+151) at Philadelphia Phillies (-181)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (+140) at Milwaukee Brewers (-170)
Game 1 - Oct. 3
- Texas (+132) at Tampa Bay (-147), Total 7.5 - 3:08 p.m. ET on ABC
Montgomery vs Glasnow
- Toronto (+100) at Minnesota (-110), Total 7.5 - 4:38 p.m. ET on ESPN
Gausman vs Lopez
- Miami (+138) at Philadelphia (-153), Total 7.5 - 8:08 p.m. ET on ESPN
Luzardo vs Wheeler - Pick 1st 5 Under 4 runs (-120) & Phillies 1st 5 (-1/2) +100
- Arizona (+160) at Milwaukee (-180), Total 8 - 7:08 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Pfaadt vs Burnes
Ranking the 12 teams postseason lineups and pitching staffs
As I noted in my MLB Playoffs coverage in Forbes, the team with the best regular season record hasn't won the World Series since 2018 when the Red Sox won the championship trophy. The Atlanta Braves (104 wins) are loaded as the best team with the best record this season, but recall the Braves also won the 2021 World Series after winning just 88 games during the regular season. When I saw Los Angeles play last year during the summer at Dodger Stadium, I was watching a most dominant team that went on to win 111 games. But the Dodgers didn't even make it to the NLCS.
So opportunities to cash in on the futures and better on daily playoff games are available, although the pitching across the board is better now with the best teams reaching the playoffs (except perhaps Seattle?). The Braves do have 8 All-Stars in their lineup, along with the MVP Ronald Acuna, who hit 40+ HRs and stole 70+ bases. Matt Olson was the MLB home run (54) and RBI leader (138), and Spencer Strider was the only 20-game winner this season while leading the majors with 281 strikeouts.
If you're wondering about how the Braves matchup with their divisional round opponent (PHI or MIA), Atlanta was 8-5 with a +16 run differential against the Phillies, and 9-4 with a +31 run differential versus the Marlins.
Updated MLB Wild Card Game 2 ML Odds (BetOnline)
- TEX +129 @ TB -140 - Pick Rays RL +150
- TOR +126 @ MIN -137
- AZ +118 @ MIL -128 - Pick D'Backs (Gallen) 1st 5 +110
- MIA +132 @ PHI -144
-TEX -215 TB +185
-TOR +320 MIN -400
-AZ -265 MIL +225
-MIA +425 PHI -530
Pitching and Stats
Still, the regular-season stats are not as relevant with teams condensing rosters, health and availability of players key and the pitching rotations shortened for the starters in the early two rounds. Recall during the Tampa Bay Rays record 13-0 start to the season that Tampa Bay had Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen as their 1-2-3 punch in the rotation. Now those three are sidelined, and Tyler Glasnow, Zach Eflin and Aaron Civale will try to lead the rotation through the playoffs. But the Rays bullpen ranked best in xFIP during the second half of the season, and the teams with top 10 starters and bullpens xFIP during the second half of the season included the Rays, Brewers, Blue Jays and Orioles
And clearly anything can happen as we saw with not only the LA Dodgers not even making the World Series last year, but Toronto blowing an 8-1 lead in Game 2 versus Seattle to lose 10-9 to get eliminated in the Wild Card round in two games at home. The Blue Jays may be glad the Mariners just missed getting into the playoffs, but now have to win a playoff series on the road against a surging Minnesota Twins team that had the second-most wins in baseball during September despite three key players on the shelf during part of the month - Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton and Royce Lewis and some emerging rookies giving them a big boost.
Time to shine on the biggest stage during the MLB playoffs.
World Series Odds
As you can see, the championship futures are usually a pot of gold for the sportsbooks, and rarely offer value to the bettors at the start of the season. The biggest liability to top online sportsbook BetOnline is the Baltimore Orioles, which would be a medium loss. All other teams winning the World Series is a profitable result for the sportsbook, and odds listed are current ahead of the 2023 playoffs.
World Series needs. Just one liability. Best to worst:— Dave Mason (@DaveMasonBOL) October 2, 2023
MIN 20-1 (XXXL Win)
LAD 9-2 (XXL W)
MIL 20-1 (XL W)
TOR 16-1 (XL W)
HOU 5-1 (XL W)
ATL 3-1 (L W)
TB 10-1 (L W)
PHI 12-1 (L W)
AZ 33-1 (L W)
MIA 33-1 (S W)
TEX 12-1 (XXS W)
BAL 6-1 (M Loss)
If you like the Braves to win the World Series but not as interested in the 3/1 odds, you can bet a World Series exacta at select online sportsbooks. For example, you can take a shot on the Braves beating the Rays (+2050), Blue Jays (+3000) or Twins (+3500) for a bigger cash payout.
Check back throughout the playoffs for additional odds, matchups and picks, including some posted on X for faster updates with information you can bet on.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and recognized as one of the sports industry's insightful analysts. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Follow FairwayJay here at OSGA.com and on X (Twitter) @FairwayJay for more sports betting insights.