MLB best bets: Futures for the postseason
There isn't much better than high-stakes October baseball. Luckily, we're just a day away from all the fun beginning.
Let's take a look at a few bets to help you navigate the playoffs.
AL pennant winner: Houston Astros (+140)
The Astros have the shortest odds to win the AL, and yet, I still see value in backing them. They are very clearly the class of the group and a tier (or two) above all other teams. They aren't only competent in every aspect of the game - they are excellent.
Houston's starting pitchers combined to post the second-lowest ERA in the majors over the last month of the season. They also ranked second in FIP, second in strikeout rate, and generated ground balls at the fourth-highest rate.
Led by Cy Young winner-to-be Justin Verlander, the rotation is loaded with talented pitchers who strike out batters at an efficient rate and keep the ball down, which makes them a very difficult team to match up against in a series.
The Astros aren't just about pitching, though. They can generate offense, as evidenced by their ranking in key categories like home runs (fourth) and runs (seventh).
What makes them especially dangerous is their success isn't just limited to right-handed pitchers. From Sept. 1 onward, the Astros ranked first in wOBA and third in ISO against lefties.
This team is stacked top to bottom and should be able to convert all their strengths into a World Series appearance.
AL wild-card series: Cleveland Guardians (-120)
The Rays are a mediocre offensive side taking on a Guardians team built around pitching. That's problematic enough for the Rays on the surface. What makes matters worse is Cleveland's entire rotation is made up of right-handed pitchers.
Tampa Bay is a team with extreme hitting splits, at least of late. The Rays rank third in wOBA against lefties over the last five weeks, sandwiching them between quality playoff teams like the Mets and Cardinals.
A steady dose of quality righties should cause the Rays all kinds of problems over the course of a series.
Although the Guardians aren't a prolific offensive side - and the Rays also excel on the mound - they seem more balanced and better equipped to do some damage at the plate.
The Guardians sit 12th in wOBA versus righties and 20th against lefties over the past five weeks.
NL wild-card series: Phillies-Cardinals overs
This isn't a futures bet, per se, but it's something you can use while making bets in the future.
There is real potential for fireworks in the series between the Cardinals and Phillies.
St. Louis is a team that generally prides itself on pitching and defense, but the former has lagged behind of late. Cards starters own a 4.29 ERA over the past month, which is among the worst in this playoff class.
Their bullpen has fared a little better in terms of results, but the process is worse. In fact, no playoff team's bullpen posted a worse FIP during that stretch.
The Phillies are a good offensive team that hits lefties and righties well. Since the beginning of August, they rank top-six in wOBA against both hands.
St. Louis should be able to generate runs against them as well - especially once Philadelphia's starters leave the game. The Phillies' bullpen owns a 5.00 ERA over the last month, ranking them ahead of only the Rockies, Pirates, and Diamondbacks.
A veteran, playoff-tested side like the Cards should be able to capitalize when the games matter most.
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.