MLB Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Saturday October 21st

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MLB schedule today has 1 game

The Diamondbacks are looking to follow the lead of the Astros, as they’ve erased a 2-0 series deficit and have the chance to take a 3-2 lead in tonight’s game against the Phillies. Late-game heroics have been the story the last two nights at Chase Field, as the D-Backs walked it off in Game 3 on a Ketel Marte single and scored three runs in the eighth last night to take a 6-5 lead.

 

Game 5 features a rematch of Game 1, as we’ll see Zack Wheeler for the Phillies and Zac Gallen for the Diamondbacks. Game 1 went to Philly. How will Game 5 turn out?

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Here are some thoughts on the October 21 card (odds from DraftKings):

(odds as of 5:15 a.m. PT)

Philadelphia Phillies (-130, 8) at Arizona Diamondbacks

The home team is 4-0 in this series thus far and a fifth win would push the Diamondbacks one game away from their first World Series appearance since 2001. The Phillies are hoping to buck the trend and head home with a chance to end things on Monday in Game 6. In hopes of achieving those respective goals, both teams turn to their aces.

Gallen fell behind early, as he allowed two solo homers in the first and one in the second en route to allowing five runs over five innings. Heading into that Game 1 start, Gallen had some well-defined home/road splits and those may have played a part. He finished the regular season with a 2.47 ERA at home over 102 innings and allowed just a .262 wOBA and seven homers. On the road, however, Gallen had a 4.42 ERA in 108 innings, allowed a .313 wOBA, and 15 dingers.

Gallen also had major issues with allowing hard contact during the regular season, specifically in the second half, as he had a 49.4% Hard Hit% and a 10% Barrel%. I felt comfortable going against him for those reasons, plus he hadn’t really thrown the ball all that well in his two previous postseason starts. He had only allowed four runs on 10 hits in 11.1 innings, but he had just eight strikeouts against five walks.

So, I had a lot of concerns and the Phillies actually covered the run line in that game, albeit barely. Why? Because Wheeler cruised through five shutout innings and then allowed a single and a homer to lead off the sixth. Seranthony Dominguez gave up another run in the seventh, but the Phillies held on for the 5-3 victory.

Wheeler has allowed five earned runs on just 11 hits in 19 innings of work this postseason with 26 strikeouts against one walk. He has been very stingy and is exactly the right kind of guy to send out there tonight in hopes of taking back control of the series. He’s got a 2.63 ERA with a 2.61 FIP in his nine postseason starts and his 3.61 ERA from the regular season is the highest he’s had since 2019, so his baseline is really, really good. Wheeler had a 3.21 xERA and a 3.15 FIP, so his advanced run estimators were even more positive regarding his performance.

As much as I like and trust Wheeler, the circumstances are a lot different here as it pertains to Gallen. This has been a much better venue for him to pitch in and I do think pitchers are very aware of their home/road splits, handedness splits, etc. I think they do breed confidence and pitchers are able to throw with some more conviction.

I will say that I thought Gallen’s fastball did look pretty flat and lifeless in that Game 1 start. Including his three playoff starts, Gallen has worked 226.1 innings this season after working 184 last year, an increase of more than 60 innings from 2021. The Baseball Savant data doesn’t show an uptick in velo and there was a mild uptick in spin rate, so the data doesn’t necessarily back up my thought, but the Phillies were looking to attack the fastball and did. They only had three whiffs in 19 swings and all three homers came on heaters.

With Gallen back at home, though, I’m not as interested in laying the Phillies road price. Also, the balance of power has shifted a bit in the series and that also keeps me from wanting to take Philadelphia to retake the series lead. 

Both bullpens are also up against it a bit. Arizona used eight relievers yesterday and Paul Sewald, Kevin Ginkel, Ryan Thompson, and Andrew Saalfrank have worked back-to-back days. On the Philadelphia side, Craig Kimbrel has been the losing pitcher on consecutive days, plus Jose Alvarado, Jeff Hoffman, and Orion Kerkering have all worked back-to-backs.

In looking at everything, I don’t have a play here in Game 5. I lean a little with the 1st 5 Under, but it is 4 and the two teams have shown a propensity for hitting home runs here in the postseason and that leaves very little margin for error with any sort of Under wager. I’ll just be an observer and maybe see if a live bet tickles my fancy.