MLB Begins Postseason Play as 16 Teams Vie for the World Series, Oddsmakers Like LA
Posted on: September 28, 2020, 11:25h.
Last updated on: September 29, 2020, 10:26h.
The biggest postseason in baseball history starts Tuesday. No, really. The 2020 MLB postseason brings 16 teams to the cusp of October. Play starts Tuesday when the four American League Wild Card best-of-three series starts, and the four National League series begin on Wednesday.
COVID-19 forced MLB to abandon its traditional 162-game marathon schedule and opt for a 60-game sprint. Because of the shorter season, the decision was made to expand the playoffs. It’s harder to get a sense for what team is the best in just a little more than a third of the season. That’s especially true when you consider the Washington Nationals, last year’s World Series champs, would not have even made the expanded playoffs if the same format was in effect. The Nats were 27-33 and in fourth place in the NL East before finishing the season 66-36.
So, that’s something to keep in mind as MLB postseason play begins. The four higher seeds in each league will host the Wild Card series, and while there is something to be said about home-field advantage, a three-game series can produce a random outcome. In any given season, you could see a 100-loss team take two-of-three from a 100-win team. One bad outing from an ace pitcher can turn the tide in a short series.
Here are the series matchups and odds according to FanDuel.
Houston Astros +150 at Minnesota Twins -178
Chicago White Sox -108 at Oakland Athletics -108
Toronto Blue Jays +186 at Tampa Bay Ray -225
New York Yankees -124 at Cleveland Indians +106
Cincinnati Reds +118 at Atlanta Braves -138
Miami Marlins +162 at Chicago Cubs -194
St. Louis Cardinals +170 at San Diego Padres -200
Milwaukee Brewers +250 at Los Angeles -310
Check MLB.com for game times and broadcast information.
Who’s Hot, Who’s Not Heading Into MLB Postseason
When trying to handicap a short series in a short season, the best barometer might be to look at what teams are the hottest in the majors. According to TeamRankings.com, here’s how each of the playoff teams fared in their final 10 games.
American League – Rays 8-2, Indians 8-2, Blue Jays 6-4, Twins 6-4, Athletics 5-5, Astros 4-6, Yankees 4-6, White Sox 2-8.
National League – Dodgers 8-2, Reds 7-3, Braves 6-4, Cardinals 6-4, Padres 5-5, Brewers 5-5, Marlins 5-5, Cubs 4-6.
Sometimes it helps to go even a little deeper into the numbers. Take, for example, the Reds. On Sept. 12, they were 20-26 and many had written them off for a postseason berth. But they finished the final two weeks going 11-3. That included taking two of three at Minnesota, where the Twins had previously just lost five times in their first 28 home games.
Despite that hot streak, oddsmakers aren’t convinced it’ll carryover into October. World Series odds for the Reds range from +2000 at PointsBet to +3500 at BetMGM.
Dodgers World Series Favorites
Heading into October, oddsmakers across the US believe the Dodgers are the heavy favorite to win their first crown in 32 years.
The winningest team in the majors this year started hot and stayed hot throughout the season. LA boasts a pitching staff that led the NL in earned run average (3.02) and a lineup that led the league in homers (118), slugging percentage (.483), and runs (349).
FanDuel, DraftKings, and PointsBet all offer the Dodgers at +350, with BetMGM posting odds of +375.
Oddsmakers also don’t see much difference between the Yankees and Rays. FanDuel, DraftKings, and PointsBet have the AL East rivals as co-second choices. PointsBet and DraftKings have them at +600 each and FanDuel at +700. BetMGM, meanwhile, lists the Yanks at +600 and the Rays at +800.
One thing to remember with this postseason, once the Wild Card round ends, the National League teams will head to Texas and the American League teams will go to California to play the divisional and league championship series. After that, the AL and NL pennant winners will face off in Arlington, Texas for the World Series.
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