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MLB Wild Card Series Picks, Predictions & Preview

MLB Wild Card Series Picks, Predictions & Preview

The bracket is set and we have a fascinating MLB Playoffs picture in front of us. The new postseason format calls for a customized, 3-game series for the Wild Card round. 

Below are our Wild Card series picks, predictions and best bets.

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Cleveland vs. Tampa Bay Series Prediction

This series doesn’t have mainstream appeal – perhaps rightfully so – but will be a baseball purist’s dream.

These are two of the better-managed teams in baseball. Tampa continues to utilize a mix of openers, long relievers and creative bullpen matchups, while Cleveland simply wins games without overwhelming their opponents. 

Tampa has a no-name lineup that finished with a paltry .686 OPS as a team, third-worst in the American League. Their pitching staff is among the best in baseball, twirling a 3.41 ERA over the course of the season. 

The Guardians are similarly built, with an average-but-nonetheless underwhelming .699 team OPS. What they lack in pop, they make for with pitching. Cleveland’s bullpen was dominant during the regular season, holding opponents to a 3.05 ERA and 1.11 WHIP.

The Guardians have the offensive advantage, boasting a more balanced lineup and anchored by more productive bats in Jose Ramirez, Steven Kwan and Andres Gimenez. But when it comes to the postseason, I’m a believer in bullpens, bullpens, bullpens being a deciding factor in toss-up matchups like this one.

I cited some sparkling season-long stats for both squads above, but Tampa’s star-power lies with its staff. Tyler Glasnow has returned and Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen and Jeffrey Springs form a three-headed monster that should keep Cleveland’s bats quiet enough for the Rays to squeak out a series win in 3 games. 

Series Pick: Tampa (+105) at DraftKings

Game 1 Pick: Under 6.5 runs (-115) at DraftKings 

Seattle vs. Toronto Series Prediction

The Blue Jays are peaking at the perfect time. In September, Toronto’s lineup led MLB in runs (175), OPS (.797) and wRC+ (129). Bo Bichette has led this offensive resurgence, hitting .403 with a 1.134 OPS last month.

The Blue Jays pitching staff is well-positioned for the Wild Card Series as well. Game 1 starter Alex Manoah threw 41 IPs of 0.88 ERA baseball in September and clearly thrives off pressure as much as anyone in the game. The bullpen was shored up at the trade deadline and has put together a solid 3.27 ERA over 333 IPs since July.

The Mariners are a bit of an enigma. They are middle-of-the-pack in almost every significant statistical category on both sides of the ball, yet – as they did in 2021 – they simply find ways to win. Their rotation lines up perfectly for the Wild Card Series, with Luis Castillo, Robbie Ray and Logan Gilbert taking the mound in perfect order. Despite having a right-hand-heavy lineup, the Blue Jays actually have the 2nd best offense in baseball against RHPs, meaning the Mariners are playing into a platoon dis-advantage.

I think Seattle is a good team and belong in the postseason. That said, they are completely out-gunned here. The Rogers Center will be rocking all series long and Blue Jays fans will be able to watch their hometown team move into the ALDS.

Series Pick: Tornto (-160) at DraftKings

Game 1 Pick: Toronto (-130) at DraftKings

Wild Card Series Quick Picks

Philadelphia Phillies (+110)

It gives me pause to both back the Phillies as well as bet against the Cardinals in the postseason, but here we are. Philadelphia’s bullpen is a legitimate liability (4.27 ERA this season, 8th-worst in MLB) but this is more about me putting faith in Zach Weeler and Aaron Nola to get the job done against two inferior starters in Jose Quintana and Miles Mikolas.

Make no mistake, though. The Phillies needs to win the first two games. If this goes to a Game 3, St. Louis will feast on Ranger Suarez and Philadelphia’s relief corps. Still, I’ll take the value of the slight underdog upfront compared to the Cardinals at -130, where they currently sit at DraftKings.

New York Mets (-175) 

I want to be clear here: I do not see betting value in this pick. I think the 1-2 punch of DeGrom and Scherzer, plus an under-appreciated Mets bullpen (3.55 ERA behind All-Universe closer Edwin Diaz, who should be able to comfortably throw 2 innings if needed) will be too much for the Padres. The fact that the entire series will take place in New York is a further boost.

While Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury have indeed made San Diego’s lineup a formidable one, not enough is said about New York’s deep, balanced lineup. Since July 1, the Mets have significantly out-performed the Padres by OPS (.760 vs. .704), wOBA (.332 vs. .310) and wRC+ (120 vs. 103). This Wild Card matchup is an amazing one for the fans, but an unfortunate one for the Padres.

DraftKings 1st Deposit Bonus Offer

Users will receive a first deposit match at 20% value of their initial deposit, which means to claim the full $1,000 in bonus funds, they must deposit $5,000.

Bonus funds will be awarded to the user according to the following play-through requirement: for every $25 played on DraftKings in DFS/Sportsbook/Casino, the user will receive $1 in bonus funds released into their customer account (e.g., a $5,000 deposit requires a customer to play through a cumulative total of $25,000 in daily fantasy contests, sportsbook (-300 odds or longer), casino products, or any combination thereof to receive the maximum possible bonus amount of $1,000). 

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