MLB Best Bets Today: Diamondbacks vs. Rangers Game 2 World Series Odds, predictions and picks

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MLB schedule today has 1 game

Game 1 of the 2023 World Series was an instant classic. It was one that Rangers fans will replay forever and one that will haunt Diamondbacks fans for a long time if Arizona comes up short in the series. Corey Seager’s game-tying two-run homer in the ninth and Adolis Garcia’s walk-off blast in the 11th obviously had huge betting implications, as the Seager dinger put the game over the total and the Garcia dong officially stamped Texas the winner.

 

Arizona got five innings of shutout ball from Zac Gallen and the bullpen to be in position to win, but bullpens are volatile and Paul Sewald’s meltdown now has Texas in control of the series at 1-0. It was a tough beat for Under bettors between the two-run shot and a combined 3-for-15 with RISP, but there are some things we can take away from Game 1 and apply to Game 2.

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Here are some thoughts on the October 28 card (odds from DraftKings):

(odds as of 7:50 a.m. PT)

Arizona Diamondbacks at Texas Rangers (-142, 8.5)

Merrill Kelly and Jordan Montgomery are the slated starters for Game 2, as the Rangers are roughly 15-20 cents lower in a favorite role today. Montgomery was bumped back to the G2 starter after working 2.1 innings in relief during Monday’s Game 7, so Nathan Eovaldi started last night and now Montgomery comes in with a chance to pitch the Rangers to a 2-0 lead.

Montgomery will make his fifth playoff start and sixth playoff appearance here, as he’s allowed seven runs on 28 hits in 25 innings with a 17/4 K/BB ratio. Only six of the runs are earned, so he sports a 2.16 ERA with a 3.42 FIP and has been helped by an 85.6% LOB% to where he’s at right now. He had a bad start in the ALDS against the Orioles with five runs allowed on nine hits in four innings, but has been very solid in his other four starts.

Montgomery is making himself some serious cheddar with free agency looming and his four-pitch mix will be very attractive to suitors this offseason. While not a big strikeout guy anyway with a 21.4% K% during the regular season, I’d be lying if I said his 15.6% K% doesn’t concern me a bit. One would also think that Montgomery being left-handed would help control the running game, but base stealers were 14-of-15 off of him during the regular season. I would expect the D-Backs to be aggressive and push the issue once again. They were 4-for-4 last night, including two against Eovaldi, who had allowed 31-of-35 successful stolen base attempts over the last three seasons.

Even though Gallen was the Game 1 starter, Kelly is the ace of this staff to me. One of three guys with the first name Merrill to play in the Majors and the first since 1952, Kelly didn’t advance to the Majors with the Rays after some solid minor league seasons, including a 2014 year at Triple-A with a 2.76 ERA in 114 innings. He went to the KBO and actually wasn’t all that dominant with SK Wyverns, but the Diamondbacks signed him prior to the 2019 season and he’s been a good story ever since.

He has a 2.65 ERA with a 4.73 FIP in three starts covering 17 innings in these playoffs. The high FIP is a byproduct of three homers allowed and eight walks, but he does have 19 strikeouts and has only allowed a total of nine hits. Remember in his Game 2 start in Philly in the NLCS, Kelly allowed just three hits, but all of them were solo homers. He bounced back with five innings of one-run ball in his Game 6 start, but needed 90 pitches to do so and Torey Lovullo pulled him.

I like the arsenal depth of both starters here. Statcast credits Kelly with six pitches and he topped out at 30.1% in usage on the four-seam fastball. Montgomery got credit for five, as a cutter infrequently popped up, but he threw three pitches at least 20% of the time. Being able to keep hitters off-balance, especially with a low strikeout rate, is a really vital skill and both guys have it, though Kelly’s K% did spike to a career-best 25.8% this season.

Alas, there is something we have to discuss with Kelly that was also a talking point with Gallen last night and has been throughout the playoffs. Kelly was much better in the friendly confines of Chase Field than he was out on the MLB highway.

Home: 93.2 IP, 2.59 ERA, 3.43 FIP, .183/.266/.309, .258 wOBA, 9 HR, 29% K%, 9.9% BB%
Away: 84 IP, 4.07 ERA, 4.31 FIP, .261/.333/.434, .332 wOBA, 11 HR, 22.7% K%, 9.2% BB%

Just like Gallen, Kelly had big spikes in his road numbers and a steep drop in his K%. That’s a 125-point difference in SLG and that’s a potentially big deal going into this game with the Rangers, who banged out four extra-base hits out of their nine total hits last night.

Between extra innings and a close game, a lot of relievers got in there to shake off some rust and/or jitters. The Rangers didn’t end up using Josh Sborz or Aroldis Chapman, but some of their long relievers and depth starters got out there. The Diamondbacks used six relievers and all of their primary guys, except for lefty Andrew Saalfrank.

I don’t have an official bet for Game 2. The road splits for Kelly are certainly a concern, but he’s made three straight road starts and allowed five runs on nine hits in 17 innings. Montgomery’s lack of strikeouts and some concerns about controlling the running game keep me off the Rangers.

If Game 1 is any indication, live betting opportunities will be present throughout the series. Maybe the play tonight is to look for those, as I think the side and total numbers are pretty spot on here in this one.

A prop lean that I’m giving some extra thought is Kelly Under 16.5 Outs (-125 at DraftKings). Kelly can have some elevated walk rates and he gets into a lot of deep counts. I could see Lovullo having to pull him after five or quickly if he gets in trouble in the sixth. Not an official play for now, but it is the closest thing I found that I like this morning.