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MLB playoffs betting odds, picks: Braves slugger Marcell Ozuna could be key in sweeping Reds

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Faced with the possibility of two straight days with eight playoff games — there had never been one of those in baseball history before — the baseball Gods just weren’t ready. Three AL teams checked out after just two losses and the 2020 was season far too early. That means there will be one Game 3 (White Sox at Athletics) along with the four NL games, each obviously with one team having its back against the all. For the gambling folk out there, let’s grab some best bets from the day, courtesy of the odds from William Hill Sportsbook. 

NL Wild Card Game 2


Atlanta (-1.5)


12 p.m.



NL Wild Card Game 2


Chi. Cubs (-1.5)

2 p.m. 



AL Wild Card Game 3 

Chi. White Sox


3 p.m.



NL Wild Card Game 2 

St. Louis

San Diego (-1.5)

7 p.m.



NL Wild Card Game 2 


L.A. Dodgers 

10 p.m.



All lines via William Hill Sportsbook

The Padres’ first playoff game since 2006 was kind of a disaster, no? They were down 6-2 by the middle of the third inning and some rallies later in the game were cut down prematurely thanks to some baserunning gaffes. Perhaps there were nerves, maybe it was just starting pitcher Chris Paddack not having his good stuff and it being too deep a hole to escape or maybe it was just a bad overall game. Those happen. 

I’m looking for things to even out here in Game 2. The Padres are the better team here and though they are without who would’ve been their top two pitchers in this series, Game 2 starter Zach Davies is pretty good. He pitched to a 2.73 ERA and 1.07 WHIP this season along with the highest strikeout rate of his career by a good margin. 

There’s also this on the even-it-out front: Since a five-game losing streak in mid-August, the Padres are 26-11. In that span, they have only lost consecutive games to twice and both of those were thanks to the Dodgers

On the flip side, the Cardinals went through the entire regular season without straying from two games within .500, whether two below or two above. It was only 58 games, but that’s some kind of consistency when we’re looking for things to even out. 

Marlins at Cubs, under 6.5 runs (+105)

As the great Roy McAvoy once said (hey, we can cross over sports here for excellent movie references), “you ride her ’til she bucks ya, or you don’t ride at all.” I hit the under in Game 1 of this series and we are 100 percent letting it ride with Game 2. First up, the Marlins offense is likely without Starling Marte. Secondly, it’s an offense that was 11th in the NL runs, ninth in average, ninth in on-base percentage and 13th in slugging percentage this season. 

That offense gets to face Yu Darvish in cool weather with the wind expected to be blowing in. Darvish posted a 2.01 ERA and NL-best 2.23 FIP this season. He struck out 93 in 76 innings. In eight of his 12 outings, he allowed zero or one run while working at least six innings (five of those were seven innings). 

Why wouldn’t I just take the Cubs? Well, first off, they face Sixto Sanchez and they’ve never seen him before. That’s generally an advantage to the pitcher. Though Sanchez is coming off two bad starts, he has excellent stuff and, well, you simply cannot trust this Cubs’ offense. Prone to strikeouts, they rarely at this point string lots of hits together. With the wind blowing in, bailing themselves out with lots of homers is mostly off the table. And then there’s this: Starting with the 2017 NLCS — and including the one-game playoff for the NL Central versus the Brewers in 2018 (which is technically a regular season game) — here are the Cubs’ runs scored per game in “playoffs.” 

  • 2017 NLCS Game 1: 2
  • 2017 NLCS Game 2: 1
  • 2017 NLCS Game 3: 1
  • 2017 NLCS Game 4: 3
  • 2017 NLCS Game 5: 1
  • 2018 Game 163: 1
  • 2018 wild card: 1
  • 2020 wild card Game 1: 1

That’s a pathetic 1.375 runs per game in 11 pretty damn important games. It’s possible this simply means they are a sleeping giant ready to bust out, but I’ve been watching a lifeless offense for quite a while. Ride that under. It’ll be a fast game. 

It’s tempting to look at Game 1 of the Reds-Braves series with all the scoreless innings and offensive futility and believe it’ll carry over. I also picked the Reds to win the series, but that was dependent on Trevor Bauer getting any support and winning Game 1. Now, from the Reds’ point of view, I’d be fearing that the opportunity to win the series was blown. The Braves’ offense just has so much firepower. Ozuna led the NL with 18 home runs this season. In September, he hit .394/.488/.750 with 10 homers and 33 RBI in 26 games. He went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts in Game 1. Uh oh, Reds. 

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