NL Wild Card Series Best Bets Cover Friday Matchups

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Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches in the second inning against the Atlanta Braves. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP.

The top-rated sportsbooks have released their series prices for the upcoming wildcard games. For now, I wish to focus on two NL wildcard contests both of which take place on Friday:

For reasons that I will explain, you should bet on a series winner and series props at top-rated sportsbooks.

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Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals 

Weekend Series at Busch Stadium

Philadelphia’s Starting Pitchers

When predicting which team will win a given series, the most important thing to consider is the starting pitcher matchups.

For the Phillies, Zack Wheeler will start Game 1 while Aaron Nola will start Game 2. After these two pitches, Ranger Suarez follows.

A Potential Game 3

Given this significant drop-off in quality, from two incessant Cy Young contenders to a middling lefty, it would be ideal for Philadelphia to sweep this series. If the Phillies win both games, then they won’t have to rely on Suarez.

Now, Suarez is far from awful, his 3.65 ERA is indeed respectable as much as it has recently sky-rocketed after his last start in Houston’s small ballpark.

Suarez, in fact, recently locked down baseball’s best lefty-hitting lineup, as measured by slugging rate.

He limited this lineup, Atlanta, to 1 run in 6 innings on September 16 before shutting out the Braves over the course of 6 innings in his very start.

Suarez’s Possibilities

So, while the fact that Suarez is left-handed yields a significant advantage to the Cardinals’ righty-heavy lineup, one in which its best hitters are right-handed, Suarez would still stand a good chance to succeed against the Cardinals.

Still, Philadelphia would obviously rather use its two best pitchers to end the series as early as possible.

St. Louis’ Pitching Rotation

St. Louis has not set its rotation for the Wild Card Series.

They have, though, the following starting pitchers to choose from: 

  • Miles Mikolas
  • Jack Flaherty
  • Adam Wainwright
  • Jordan Montgomery
  • Jose Quintana

St. Louis’ Starting Pitcher Disadvantage

Collectively, St. Louis’ starting pitcher options, in terms of quality, fall drastically short of Philadelphia’s.

Adam Wainwright is a team icon, who Cardinal fans love to overrate, but he is pitching horribly at just the most critical time of year.

Before allowing 4 earned runs in consecutive starts against the Dodgers and Padres, he allowed 6 earned runs in 4.2 innings against Pittsburgh.

Mikolas and Flaherty

Mikolas has been very hit-or-miss in the second half of the season, during which span of time his ERA is close to two points higher than in the first half.

I can’t imagine St. Louis willingly starting Flaherty whose lack of command, he averages 5.50 walks per nine innings, only forms the start of his worries.

Montgomery and Quintana

While Montgomery has cooled off after a sizzling start in a Cardinal uniform, Jose Quintana has been performing well lately, although his most recent starts came against teams that struggle to hit lefties.

Both Quintana and Montgomery would be at a disadvantage because they are left-handed because Philadelphia owns one of the best left-hitting lineups.

As measured by slugging rate, the Phillies are sixth-best at hitting left-handed pitching.

Wheeler and Nola 

I contend that Philadelphia can end this series after two games. The perennially solid Wheeler with his sub-three ERA enters Game 1 having allowed a combined total of 1 run in his past three starts.

Similarly solid, Nola has accrued 17 strikeouts to 0 walks in his past two starts. Critically, both pitchers love facing St. Louis. They both yield a sub-2.70 ERA in their career against the Cardinals.

The Pick

Somehow, according to the MLB Odds, Philadelphia is an underdog.

MLB Pick: Phillies to Win Series (+120) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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San Diego Padres vs. New York Mets

Weekend Series at Citi Field

Starting Pitcher Matchups 

We can safely take for granted that the Mets will win Game 1 while led by Max Scherzer. With his current and ridiculous 2.29 ERA, Scherzer remains one of baseball’s best pitchers.

Yu Darvish, for San Diego, is simply outmatched.

Game 2 

The Mets might decide to pursue a bold strategy in trying to save up Jacob deGrom for Game 3 or for the following series.

Chris Bassitt, a worse alternative, may start Game 2. But Bassitt is no slouch, he limited the Padres to two runs in seven innings in their regular season matchup.

San Diego can and should counter with Joe Musgrove who might be their top pitching option altogether, but he struggled in his regular season start against the Mets.

After all, they rank sixth in slugging against his favorite pitches from righties.

MLB Pick: Mets -1.5 (+150) at Bovada

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Brandon Nimmo 

For our prop bets, I want to focus on a long-shot option whose recent form makes him quite enticing. Brandon Nimmo, for the Mets, couldn’t be performing better right now.

He is 6-for-8 with 2 home runs in his past two games combined. There’s no reason why this playing form shouldn’t carry over into the postseason.

MLB Pick: Brandon Nimmo Most Hits (+4500) at Bovada

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Juan Soto 

Soto carries proven experience in playoff baseball. With 27 homers on the season, Soto always has potential to go deep at any point in the season.

He already enters tonight’s game in great form through his last 70 at-bats. Even Scherzer is liable to give up a solo shot, and after Game 1 it will only get easier for Soto.

MLB Pick: Juan Soto Most Home Runs (+3000) at Bovada

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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.