The National League Division Series kicks off tonight, with both series playing game one on neutral fields. The Atlanta Braves host the upstart Miami Marlins, hoping to end Miami’s Cinderella run to the postseason. While most people expect the Braves to handle the Marlins with ease, Miami has shockingly never lost a single playoff series in franchise history! The Marlins have made the postseason twice in franchise history before this year, and both times they won the World Series.
This year, they swept the Chicago Cubs in two games in the NL Wild-card round, to keep their undefeated postseason record alive. While I am sure we can all agree that the Marlins are going to lose a game at some point this postseason, the Marlins have a lot of swagger right now, and they are playing well and their history can’t be denied.
Four DS games today?
— MLB (@MLB) October 6, 2020
On the other side of the National League bracket, the Los Angeles Dodgers look to continue their hot streak as they host the San Diego Padres in game one. The Dodgers coasted through the wild-card round, sweeping the Milwaukee Brewers in two games, and continue to have baseball’s best record.
For San Diego, the Padres are banged up but surviving. San Diego needed all three games to dispatch the St. Louis Cardinals on their first playoff series of the season, after dropping game one against the Red Birds. The Padres are hoping to shock the world tonight in game one and take the series lead. For our free daily betting pick, we will head to Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, for game one of the NLDS between the Padres and the Dodgers.
San Diego Padres (0-0) at Los Angeles Dodgers (0-0)
The San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers meet up tonight for game one of the National League Division Series, in a matchup that seemed inevitable all season long. The Dodgers ran away with the NL West Division title, finishing with the best record in baseball, and one of the highest winning percentages in Major League Baseball history. The Boys in Blue have won six straight games, and twelve of their last fourteen, going back to the regular season.
For San Diego, the Padres finished with the second-best record in the National League, but based on MLB seeding the division winners ahead of the second-place finishers, regardless of record, the Padres now must face the Dodgers in the NLDS, rather than the NLCS. San Diego barely survived the wild-card round against the Cardinals, as it took a dramatic comeback in game two for the Padres to extend their season.
October Sunshine. ☀️ pic.twitter.com/X9takhuKA2
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) October 6, 2020
Starting tonight for the Dodgers is Walker Buehler (0-0 4.50 ERA), and for the Padres, it is Mike Clevinger (0-0 0.00 ERA). The game total over/under is set at eight and a half runs. The Dodgers are -150 favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 6:38 PM PST from Globe Life Park in Arlington.
San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres have been battling injuries all season long. It started when they lost their All-Star closer Kirby Yates early in the season, and it continued when they had to play without their two best starting pitchers in the wild-card round against the Cardinals, when Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet both weren’t available to pitch. We saw the Pads struggle without all of that star power on the mound in the first two games of the series as they gave up sixteen runs.
But in game three, the Padres decided to go with a bullpen day, and it worked out well, as nine different pitchers combined to shut the Cardinals out and give the Padres the win. San Diego got a pleasant surprise for game one of this series, as Mike Clevinger, their newly acquired ace that was scratched from the wild-card series, is expected to start tonight. The Padres have the bats to hang with anyone, but do they have the pitching? Only time will tell, but getting Clevinger back is a major boost to the Padre’s chances of pulling off the upset.
Mike Clevinger (0-0 0.00 ERA)
When Mike Clevinger was pulled from his final start of the regular season against the Los Angeles Angels with a sore elbow, Padres fans knew his ability to get back on the mound for the playoffs was going to be a major key to their postseason success. Clevinger would have started game one or two for San Diego; instead, they went with Zach Davies and Chris Paddack. Those two guys combined for just four and a third innings worked, getting blasted for ten earned runs.
And while the Padres love to see Clevinger back on the field, you have to wonder if the poor performance from the rest of the Padres pitching staff has forced their hand and if they are bringing Clevinger back before he is ready to pitch? Clevinger is still in substantial pain and received a Cortisone shot before a bullpen session last week. He is going to try and gut it out, but elbow injuries are the scariest thing a pitcher can have these days, and it will be interesting to see how effective he can be at less than full strength.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t have to finish the regular season strong. They had the best record in baseball locked up, as well as the NL West Division title. Even with the Padres chasing them as the second-best team in the league, the Dodgers still won the division by six games, more than any other NL Division champ. But this team knows that it is World Series or bust, and they didn’t take their foot off the gas, finishing the regular season playing their best baseball of the year.
In the wild-card round against the Brewers, the bats were a bit weaker than expected, but the pitching continued to be elite. The Dodgers finished the regular season ranked number one in basically every major team pitching statistic, including team ERA, WHIP, and batting average against. The bullpen didn’t allow a run in six innings against the Brewers, and they are far and away the best group of relievers in the game right now.
Walker Buehler (0-0 4.50 ERA)
Walker Buehler is a playoff stud. That’s not to say that he isn’t great in the regular season too, he is elite just about every time he pitches, but in the postseason, this guy has another gear. After a shaky start to his postseason career, he has been basically unhittable in the postseason since. In his last five postseason starts, Buehler has worked a combined 35.1 innings and has allowed only four earned runs.
That is an ERA of just 1.03. The Dodgers have won four out of those five starts, and the one loss came when he pitched six and two-thirds of an inning against the Washington Nationals and allowed just one run. Hard to fault him too much for that one. Buehler wasn’t super sharp in his first start of the playoffs this season, as the Dodgers decided to pull him after just four innings of work, and he gave up two earned runs.
But that was more of a function of the Dodgers knowing they had an elite bullpen to fall back on then Buehler struggling all that much, as he had thrown just 73 pitches and had plenty left in the tank if they needed more out of him. I expect Buehler to again be strong tonight, as this kid knows how to step it up when his team needs him.
Who Do I Like?
I am going to be honest, here, I am a little surprised at how tight this number is right now. The Padres have played the Dodgers tough this year, as they have beaten them four times in ten games, which is as good as any team has fared against LA this season. But with Mike Clevinger banged up, and being a huge question mark, and Walker Buehler being so good in the playoffs, I would think this line would be LA -200 or more.
To see the Dodgers at just -150 is a shockingly low price to back a team that is clearly the best team in baseball. Clevinger is the man, but this season has been an absolute mess for him. First, he broke team quarantine rules in Cleveland and was banished to the Indian’s alternate training site. Then he was reactivated and promptly traded to the National League, and we all know switching leagues mid-season is tough. Now, he is being asked to pitch with a bum arm, against the best hitting team in the game. And he is only +130? Yeah, I am not buying it.
I am backing the Dodgers in this one. They are just the better overall team. Even if Clevinger was at his best and didn’t have a bulging elbow that required a Cortisone shot to even pitch, I would still like the Dodgers in this game. It is rare that you get to back a team this good, at this reasonable of a price, and I am not going to pass up on all of that value tonight. Give me the Los Angeles Dodgers, laying -150 in game one!