Baseball’s postseason begins Tuesday night when the Brewers visit the Nationals in the National League Wild-Card Game. Tuesday’s winner will advance to a best-of-five series against the top-seeded Dodgers scheduled to start Thursday.
Annual Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer starts for the Nats. Global sportsbooks opened Scherzer around -170/+155 over Brandon Woodruff of the Brewers (risk $170 to win $100 on the Nats, risk $100 to win $150 on the Brewers … or anything in those ratios). Washington is likely to be a popular public pick with a pitching edge, though many recreational bettors may pass if the price rises.
Many sharps have their eyes on the Nationals, who have never won a playoff series, as a pennant dark horse. Washington’s starting rotation is built for the playoffs. Scherzer (2.92 ERA, 35.1 percent strikeout rate), Stephen Strasburg (3.32 ERA, 29.9 percent Ks), and Patrick Corbin (3.25 ERA, 28.5 percent Ks) could carry the team deep into the bracket. (If you’re wondering about Woodruff, he has an ERA of 3.62 with a 29 percent strikeout rate).
Washington’s offense is an underpublicized juggernaut. You regulars know VSiN likes to use large sample sizes of “road only” stats to get an unpolluted read on baseball skill sets. Washington compares very favorably to the potent Dodgers in two important category rankings:
- NL road runs scored: 1. Dodgers, 2. Nationals, 3. Braves, 9. Brewers, 10. Cardinals.
- NL road on-base percentage: 1. Dodgers 2. Nationals, 4. Braves, 6. Brewers, 9. Cardinals.
You have to put runners on base to get the merry-go-round rolling. If Washington keeps doing that for its starting pitchers, the Nationals have a chance to make headlines the next two weeks. (Note the Braves take on the Cardinals in the other NL divisional series beginning Thursday.)
William Hill still rates the Dodgers as the most likely team to win the NL pennant because elite skill sets are combined with home-field advantage.
Here are the latest odds, with win-percentage equivalents in parentheses. Don’t forget that sportsbooks build a universe larger than 100 percent to create a house edge.
- Odds to win NL: Dodgers -175 (64 percent), Braves 4/1 (20 percent), Nationals 7/1 (13 percent), Cardinals 15/2 (12 percent), Brewers 10/1 (9 percent).
The winner of Tuesday’s Brewers-Nationals tussle will pick up the bulk of the other’s position on the big board.
Either will be a dangerous ‘dog in the next round. Washington closed the regular season on an eight-game winning streak, finishing 35-16 its last 51 outings. Milwaukee closed 18-5 its last 23 despite the injury to Christian Yelich.
VSiN will look at the American League wild-card game featuring Tampa Bay at Oakland and more futures in our Wednesday report. Then, we’ll go in-depth on Yankees-Twins from a market perspective Friday before first pitch of that much-anticipated long-ball clash.
October is a great month to be a sports bettor!