Last night saw several teams clinch playoff spots, and the playoff picture is finally coming into focus after a wild regular season. The Atlanta Braves locked up the National League East Division title with their win over the Miami Marlins. The Cleveland Indians came from behind in extra innings to punch their ticket to the playoffs. And the Minnesota Twins are now officially a playoff team after beating the Detroit Tigers yesterday.
All told, six of the eight playoff spots in the American League are now spoken for. The final two spots are close to being locked up as well, as the Toronto Blue Jays are three games ahead of the Seattle Mariners for the final wild card in the AL, and the Houston Astros are three and a half games ahead of Seattle for second place in the AL West Division.
NL West Division Champs….Blessed! pic.twitter.com/gaUQkeBQge
— Mookie Betts (@mookiebetts) September 23, 2020
In the National League, the Braves and Dodgers are both division champs, and the Chicago Cubs can clinch the Central Division title today with a win and a loss from the Milwaukee Brewers. And while the division races are basically over, no team has second place locked up except the San Diego Padres, and there are six teams fighting for the final four NL playoff spots. For our free daily betting pick, we will head to Los Angeles, where the Dodgers host the Oakland Athletics.
Oakland Athletics (33-21) at Los Angeles Dodgers (39-16)
The Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to make it back to back wins over the Oakland Athletics tonight in game two of a three-game series. The Dodgers are chasing history, as they have a shot to finish the regular season with one of the highest winning percentages in modern Major League Baseball history. The Dodgers helped that cause last night in game one against Oakland, as they blew the A’s out 7-2, powered by home runs from Chris Taylor, Corey Seager, Max Muncy, and AJ Pollock.
For Oakland, the A’s have the American League West Division title in hand and could catch the Chicago White Sox for the two seed in the AL playoffs, as they trail Chicago by just a half of a game in the American League standings. The A’s have been a little sluggish down the stretch after a hot start to the month and have now lost six of their last eleven games.
Starting tonight for the A’s is Sean Manaea (4-3 4.50 ERA), and for the Dodgers, it is Julio Urias (3-0 3.49 ERA). The game total over/under is set at eight and a half runs. The Dodgers are -155 home field favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 PM PST from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
The Oakland A’s ran away with their division, the American League West, early on in the season. Many people thought that the AL West was going to be one of the best divisions in baseball, but a quick glance at the standings shows us that it might actually be the worst division in baseball this year. The Rangers have the worst record in the AL, and the second-place Houston Astros are just one game above .500, which is the worst record of any second-place team in the league.
So, when you look at the fact that Oakland hasn’t been winning many games down the stretch, you have to wonder if it has been a motivation problem, as it’s hard to keep running fast in a race when nobody is chasing you. Or if this recent slump should be something that the A’s should be concerned about heading into the postseason.
Sean Manaea (4-3 4.50 ERA)
Sean Manaea had a very slow start to the season, but managed to turn things around in mid-August, when he strung together five straight quality starts. In his last start, he got roughed up by the Colorado Rockies, but just about everybody struggles at Coors Field, so it is hard to hold that performance against him too much.
The A’s had won six out of his previous seven starts before dropping his last one and getting Manaea pitching at a high level is going to be a major key to their postseason success. One area that he has struggled this season consistently, has been on the road. In Oakland, he is 3-1 with a 3.91 ERA. On the road, he is 1-2 with a 5.16 ERA, and teams are hitting a blistering hot .315 against him.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers show no signs of letting up as they continue to tear through teams at a historic pace. The Dodgers haven’t really needed to keep winning, as they had a playoff spot locked up a month ago, and the division title race hasn’t been very close either, despite the second-place San Diego Padres having the second-best record in the National League.
But the Boys in Blue just keep winning as they have won six out of their last seven games. LA leads the majors in basically ever team pitching stat, including team ERA, batting average against, and WHIP. At the plate, they have the most home runs of any team, they lead the majors in slugging, and they are second in runs scored. This team can truly do it all.
Julio Urias (3-0 3.49 ERA)
I would expect that this will be the final start of the year for Julio Urias, as the Dodgers are probably going to send him to the bullpen for the playoffs. But he won’t be getting demoted for lack of production, as he has had a very successful season. In ten starts, Urias has an undefeated record at 3-0 and a more than respectable ERA of 3.49.
Similar to Sean Manaea, Urias is much better at home than he is one the road. At Dodger Stadium, Urias is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA. His home ERA is nearly two full runs lower than his road results. Against the AL West this season, Urias has pitched 7.2 innings and has allowed just two earned runs.
Who Do I Like?
The Los Angeles Dodgers are going to do something that I thought we would never see in Major League Baseball. They are going to finish the regular season this week, having been betting favorites in every single game that they have played. Obviously, the shortened 60-game season has a lot to do with that, but I am not sure we have ever seen a team favored in 60 straight games at any point in a season before this year.
Even though the Dodgers are consistently priced as heavy favorites, they are still making bettors money on a day in and day out basis. The Dodgers are winning at a clip of more than 70% and even though I don’t normally like to lay wood on a team, if you have bet the Dodgers regularly this year, you are making a lot of money. What the Dodgers have done this season has truly been unprecedented.
This line opened up with the Dodgers at -175. Since that opening line, the betting public has inexplicitly jumped all over the Athletics. When you look at how the A’s have performed this season when they were betting underdogs on the road, you have to wonder what the public is seeing in Oakland in this one. The A’s have played six games this year where they were away from home and underdogs, they are 1-5 in those six games.
We saw those struggles in game one last night when the Dodgers smashed them for four home runs and blew them out. Oakland has been content with coasting into the postseason, and that has resulted in quite a few losses. The Dodgers aren’t doing that at all, as they are playing some of their best baseball right now, as they gear up for a deep postseason run.
The Dodgers have won seven out of their last nine games, and all of those wins have come by double-digits. Five of those seven wins have come by five or more runs. The Dodgers aren’t just beating teams, they are blowing them out. While I actually like Sean Manaea quite a bit and see him as a better starter in this matchup, I can’t fade the Dodgers with how they are playing right now. The Dodgers are just playing too well, and this price is too reasonable, to not want to back them. Give me the Los Angeles Dodgers as home field favorites tonight against Oakland.