MLB playoff picks: Bieber, Cole set for tantalizing showdown
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October baseball is incredible theater. It offers the sort of pageantry matched by little else in sports, and it all gets underway Tuesday.
Let's kick it off with some winners.
Toronto Blue Jays (+165) @ Tampa Bay Rays (-185)
Charlie Montoyo's decision to go with Matt Shoemaker over Hyun Jin Ryu in Game 1 is puzzling during a best-of-three series, where the margin for error is razor-thin. Shoemaker's ugly 4.71 ERA is made to look even worse by an astronomical 5.95 FIP, and two of his three starts against the Rays this season have gone over the total. Furthermore, Shoemaker's brutal 2.51 HR/9 rate surrendered would have been second-worst in MLB among qualified pitchers had he thrown enough innings.
He'll be up against Blake Snell, whose FIP (4.35) also suggests ERA (3.24) regression. Snell's had trouble with the long ball as well, surrendering 1.20 home runs per nine innings this season, which is problematic against a powerful Jays lineup. Snell has yet to pitch six innings this year and he's allowed at least two runs in five of his last seven starts, including 11 in his last four outings against playoff teams. This one will comfortably sail over the total.
Pick: Over 7.5 (+100)
New York Yankees (-110) @ Cleveland Indians (-110)
Tuesday's outing between runaway Cy Young favorite Shane Bieber and Gerrit Cole is arguably the most attractive pitching matchup of the entire first round. This appears to be a tougher test for Bieber at first glance, but New York's lineup isn't all that intimidating away from home. The Yankees slashed .220/.317/.350, scoring 4.1 runs per game on the road this season, compared to .273/.356/.542 and 6.33 runs per contest at Yankee Stadium. Of their 94 home runs, just 27 of them have come away from the Bronx.
Now New York heads to Progressive Field to take on Bieber, who has allowed just three runs in four home starts this season while recording an unbelievable 44 strikeouts in 22 innings. Meanwhile, Cole's splits drastically favor his home starts. He's been tagged with a 3.67 ERA in six road outings compared to a 2.09 mark in six games at home. Give me the Indians, the surefire 2020 AL Cy Young winner, and the likely AL MVP Jose Ramirez at even money in Game 1, please.
Pick: Indians (-110)
(Odds source: theScore Bet)
Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.