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MLB Friday best bets: Phillies to steal Game 1 in St. Louis

Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Playoff baseball is here! The action begins at noon and should run for the better part of 12 hours.

Let's look closely at a couple of best bets to prepare you for the four-game slate.

Phillies (-105) @ Cardinals (-115)

The Philadelphia Phillies will send Zack Wheeler to the bump in the series opener against Jose Quintana and the St. Louis Cardinals. Advantage Philadelphia.

Wheeler has dominated since returning to the rotation, allowing just one run over three starts while striking out 15 and walking one batter.

He posted a 1.91 xFIP over those starts, which is tops on the slate compared to all the other starters in the past 30 days.

Wheeler not only mustered up the lowest hard-hit rate, but he also induced ground balls over 60% of the time. That is also the best of the bunch for pitchers taking the mound Friday.

The Cardinals are a potent offensive team, but that stems from their ability to dominate lefties. They're not all that great against righties. In fact, St. Louis ranks 22nd in wOBA against right-handed arms since Sept. 1.

Wheeler should be able to give the Phillies a very strong start, putting them in a good position to steal Game 1.

Although Quintana has also pitched very well, his numbers aren't quite as sparkling as Wheeler's. His strikeout rate is lower, his xFIP is higher, and he's a lefty.

Only the Cardinals and Houston Astros rank ahead of the Phillies in wOBA versus left-handed pitching since August.

With the better starter - and a splits advantage - Philadelphia has a real shot at opening the series with a win.

Max Scherzer over 5.5 strikeouts (-110)

While pitchers have shorter leashes come playoff time and are less likely to go deep into games, this line feels a full strikeout short.

Max Scherzer struck out 10.71 batters per nine innings this season, the most among the day's projected starting pitchers.

If Scherzer pitches at his seasonal pace, he'd only need five full innings to hit the over on this number. Based on how good - and experienced - Scherzer is, it feels safe to assume he can make it through the halfway point of this game.

The matchup happens to be pretty enticing as well. Since the beginning of September, the San Diego Padres sit 18th in wOBA, 22nd in ISO, and 25th in runs scored against right-handed pitching.

The Padres aren't hitting the ball well right now, and I'm not sure I'd expect that to change on the road against one of the sport's most dominant pitchers.

It's also worth noting that Scherzer's had San Diego's number in a big way. He's faced them six times over the last couple of seasons and sat down at least seven batters in five of those meetings.

Look for his success to continue in prime time on Friday night.

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.

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