Runs will be at a premium in this series, and the usual margin for error enjoyed by starters is thin. It’s a short 3-game set, and whichever team wins flies to LA for a 5-game series starting Tuesday — a short turnaround. This adds an interesting strategy element to the Wild Card round this season with respect to how arms will be deployed. Mix all these ingredients in a pot, dial up the heat and hold your nose: I smell a short leash burning behind both pitchers tonight in New York.
@FastMoneyLabs' Best MLB Wild Card Bet - 10/7
Max Scherzer (NYM) Pitching Outs vs. Padres
I considered both sides of this bet. Here’s why I ultimately decided to fade Max:
- To go over this 17.5 Outs line, he’d need to complete 6+ full innings. Just pitching into the 6th by itself won’t be enough.
- He could achieve this through pure domination of course, it’s Mad Max Scherzer. Dude’s different. But if we’re being honest: how likely is that vs. this superstar-powered Padres lineup?
- San Diego’s offense does the majority of its damage third time around the order (i.e., after facing the starter twice already), and the analytically-inclined Mets know it.
- See how right-handed starters did vs. them over the course of games this season:
- 1st & 2nd time through lineup: 3.30 ERA
- 3rd time through: rises to 6.92 ERA
- Here’s the same stat for Max Scherzer this season vs. all opponents:
- 1st & 2nd time through: 2.12 ERA
- 3rd time through: 2.63 ERA
- Not too different, but there’s an interesting carveout to this split:
- 1st & 2nd time through: 3.4% walk rate
- 3rd time through: 6.3% walk rate
- While 6.3% is still low, it’s nearly double his normal rate, and the Padres are a disciplined, savvy bunch, which elevates the risk of walks in the 5th and 6th innings here. And walks in those innings might be the ultimate Outs prop killers, especially in the playoffs.
- Even if Scherzer cruises to the 6th, all it takes is a base runner or two to inspire action in the pen, followed by a quick mound visit and yank in a must-win game.
- There’s also a scenario where New York capitalizes on home field advantage and builds an early lead. At which time they may opt to pull Scherzer after 5 innings to keep him fresh for a possible Round 2 starting Tuesday.
$FML Best Bet
Bottom Line: Of course Mad Max could come out and really dominate at home here and make me look silly. That might sound on-brand for both parties, but since when did Playoffs have brand loyalty? I see a much better chance that he stumbles at some point — likely third time around the order — and when he does, Scherzer will be tiptoeing on a short leash that eventually yields to a rested bullpen. It’s also possible he could pitch really well and still stay under for various reasons explained above.
When a bet is priced as nearly a 50% event and you see more paths leading to one side, it’s usually wise to back that side. And based on my analysis it’s the Under here. I got U17.5 at Caesars Sportsbook and would consider betting this prop down to U16.5 but no lower.
$FML Best Wild Card Bet
MAX SCHERZER UNDER 17.5 OUTS VS PADRES @ -110
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