This article is part of our MLB Picks series.
MLB Best Bets: Expert MLB Picks for Sunday, Sept. 24
We are down to the last week of the MLB season and there remain many undecided playoff berths. I wrote on Friday that the Rangers would win their opening game of a three-game series and had the potential to sweep the series. After winning 2-0 in a drama-filled game on Saturday, the Rangers are poised for a sweep which would all but eliminate the Mariners from the playoff race. However, a Mariners win Sunday and the race is a dead heat with the reigning world champion Astros sprinting down the home stretch.
Not only are the American League wild-card berths not yet decided, two of the three divisional races are going to be photo finishes. In the AL East, the Orioles continue to cling to a 1.5-game lead over the Rays, but both teams have qualified for the postseason with the Rays earning the top wild-card berth. The Twins have clinched the AL Central divisional crown, while in the AL West, the Rangers lead the Astros by 1.5 games and the Mariners by two games. The Blue Jays currently hold the second wild-card berth with a one-game lead over the Astros.
In the National League, two divisional races have been decided with the Dodgers winning the West in a route and the same for the Braves, who have won their sixth consecutive NL East divisional crown. The Phillies have won four consecutive games and hold an insurmountable 5-game lead for the top wild-card berth. The Arizona Diamondbacks hold the second wild-berth with a half-game lead over the Chicago Cubs, who in turn lead the Marlins by one game, the Reds by 2.5 and the Giants by four.
San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers
The Giants are in a must-win situation when they take the field tonight at Dodger Stadium, with the first pitch set for 7:10 PM EST. The Giants enter this contest in third place in the National League West, one game under .500, while the Dodgers clinched the National League West division title many weeks ago and currently have a 95-59 record on the season. So it's going to take every man in that Giants dugout to earn a win tonight to keep their faint playoff hopes alive. Given that they are division rivals, the Dodgers would like nothing more than defeat the Giants and send them to the offseason.
Right-handed starting pitcher Ryan Walker will be on the hill as an opener for the Giants tonight. He is 4-3 on the season in 45 appearances (12 of which have come in the opener role) spanning 56.1 innings of work. He has posted a solid 3.20 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP on the season but has not pitched well recently. Over his last seven appearances, he owns an 11.37 ERA and a horrid 2.84 whip across 6.1 innings of work.
The Dodgers will send out right-hander Lance Lynn to the hill. He'll be making his 31st start of the season and has posted a mediocre 12-11 record with a 5.92 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP across 171 innings of work. Over his last seven starts, he is 4-2 with a 5.31 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP, striking out 24 and walking 12 in 39 innings of work.
The Giants bullpen is a mess right now, reflecting the fatigue of trying to stay in contention for the wild-card berth. Over the last seven games, Giants relievers have posted a terrible 7.60 ERA and a 1.95, WHIP, with 15 walks and 37 strikeouts over 34 innings of work. The Dodgers have a monumental advantage in bullpen strength right now. Over their last seven games, they have posted a solid 2.06 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP, with 10 walks and 47 strikeouts in 39 innings. If this game comes down to the bullpens, it may present an excellent live game bet on the Dodgers especially if they are behind in the game.
With their backs against the wall in more ways than one, I am going to bet a 5-unit amount on the Giants, placing 1.5 units on the moneyline and 3.5 units on the run line. This bet is supported by a moneyline algorithm which has produced 69 percent winners over the last five seasons. The requirements are to bet on any team that is batting .170 or worse over its last three games and is facing an opposing starter with an ERA of 7.00 or higher over his last five starts.
MLB Best Bets Recap
- Giants moneyline (DraftKings +170)
- Giants run line (DraftKings -120)