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MLB Betting & DFS Preview: American League Divisional Series


It's October and it feels great to have postseason baseball in our lives once again! Now that the opening round of the extended 2020 MLB playoffs have concluded it's time for the divisional round to begin with the remaining eight teams battling it out in this best-of-five format.

In this article, I will focus on the two American League series and look for a similar breakdown of the National League Series coming soon. Both the Yankees-Rays and Athletics-Astros series kick off on Monday, October 5th while we will see the National League series begin on Tuesday.  Something to keep in mind here is that in this condensed postseason we have no travel days since these games are being played in a bubble and therefore we could see five games in five days if a series goes the distance. That should favor teams with more pitching depth as the game one ace of a team's staff would have to pitch on two days rest in game four and three days rest in a game five.

Today I'll be breaking down both AL series with some key players to consider for MLB DFS contests this week as well as my favorite bets to lock in now before the series starts (using odds from FanDuel Sportsbook). Without further ado, let's dive into these series breakdowns!

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New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Season Series: Tampa Bay 8-2

Series Odds: New York (-132), Tampa Bay (+114)

AL Champs Odds: New York (+210), Tampa Bay (+240)

World Series Champs Odds: New York (+410), Tampa Bay (+460)

 

Projected Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Gerrit Cole vs. Blake Snell

Game 2: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Tyler Glasnow

Game 3: J.A. Happ vs. Ryan Yarbrough

Game 4: Deivi Garcia vs. Charlie Morton

Game 5: Cole vs. Snell (if necessary)

 

DFS Impact: 

Gerrit Cole will be a top option on Monday's slate with Blake Snell being 100% viable as a pivot off the chalkier Cole, too. Cole had two great starts against the Rays this year and one rough one. He piled up strikeouts against this Rays lineup but was touched up for five homers in 16 innings, which is his Achilles heel. Blake Snell is definitely worth considering as a pivot off Cole, but has struggled with the Yankees in the past and the number of righties they can put in the lineup against him makes him a dangerous play which I'd reserve for GPPs.

Tyler Glasnow has incredible strikeout stuff but is always a dicey option with his command being an issue at times, but has had some success against the Yanks this year in two of his three starts with the most recent one being a nine-strikeout outing in which he shut them out over six innings.

Tanaka has a solid history against the Rays in his career but was not very effective against them this season. He's a risky play for game 2 as he's starting to show signs that his stuff isn't as sharp as it once was. I wouldn't mind targeting him with some Rays bats on Tuesday.

We could get either Happ or Garcia in game three from the Yanks. If it's Happ, I have no problem fading him and picking on him with Tampa bats. His best days are far behind him and while he's pitched better recently, he's still not someone I trust with my hard-earned dollar. Yarbrough does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground but again, using a lefty against the Yankees lineup full of right-handed power is a dicey proposition.

I like Garcia a good bit if we see him this series and Tampa has yet to see him this year which could be in his favor. Charlie Morton is a dice-roll play as you just don't know what you're going to get from him anymore. He still has upside and has shown he can still strike guys out but he was hit hard this short season, too.

 

Betting Advice: 

My gut says the Yankees win the series, but I really the plus odds that we're getting here on Tampa at +114 considering they owned the Yankees during the regular season. Obviously, the postseason is a totally different story and perhaps they're not ready for this big of a moment, but this Tampa team is scrappy and while they don't have any superstars, they do have a deeper starting pitching staff and an excellent bullpen. They're not likely to beat Cole twice, so they're going to have to beat Tanaka, Happ, and Garcia. I am okay with betting the Yanks or the Rays to win this series and I do think it goes five games.

I do think whoever wins this series ends up coming out of the American League so I like both the Yankees and Rays bets for AL Champs. Either team would be an underdog against the Dodgers in the World Series but anything can happen and the Dodgers could lose in either of the next two rounds. The Yankees to win the whole thing at +410 is a nice value and if you like them to win this series, I'd be putting some money on them to win the pennant and the series, too.

 

Oakland Athletics vs. Houston Astros

Season Series: Oakland 7-3

Series Odds: Oakland (-136), Houston (+116)

AL Champs Odds: Oakland (+340), Houston (+385)

World Series Champs Odds: Oakland (+850), Houston (+1000)

 

Projected Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Zack Greinke vs. Chris Bassitt

Game 2: Framber Valdez vs. Jesus Luzardo

Game 3: Lance McCullers Jr. vs. Sean Manaea

Game 4: Cristian Javier/Jose Urquidy vs. Mike Fiers/Frankie Montas

Game 5: Greinke/Valdez vs. Bassitt

 

DFS Impact:

Chris Bassitt was one of the sneakiest DFS plays all summer long and pitched well against the Astros in three starts this season. He's not a strikeout pitcher, but has excellent command and a knack for getting ground balls and weak contact. I will be running him out there on Monday assuming he starts game one as he has a plus matchup against a right-handed heavy Astros team.

Zack Greinke was pretty "meh" in his first postseason start and only lasted four innings before giving way to Framber Valdez who shut out the Twins the rest of the way. Greinke has little appeal to me for DFS, while Valdez is absolutely a guy that I love even against an Oakland team that has a bunch of right-handed bats. Valdez has easily been the Astros' best starter this season and is their best chance at winning the series if he gets to pitch twice.

I have a bit of a man-crush of Jesus Luzardo, a young lefty who throws a high-'90s fastball. He made two effective starts against the Astros this season but was touched up in the opening round by the White Sox for three runs on six hits. The strikeout upside is there, though, if he's able to get deeper into the game.

McCullers was the second-best pitcher for Houston this season after Valdez but had his ups and downs, too. He's currently rounding into form nicely, though as he's pitched 17 and 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings since coming off the 10-day IL and matches up favorably against Oakland.

The rest of the starters in this series are total crapshoots and if we get Fiers starting at all he's immediately a guy I'll stack against. Javier and Urquidy were solid back-end rotation guys but are very hittable. Frankie Montas is one guy who could be a key to Oakland winning this series if he draws a start in game 3 or game 4. He was an elite pitcher last season and throws a heavy sinker at 98-99 MPH that could be devastating at times. Oakland might opt to keep him in the pen, though, so we will have to see how that plays out.

Neither of these offenses was that great down the stretch, but there should be plenty of value from either lineup if you're looking to fit in more expensive bats from New York or LA on some of these slates. Mark Canha is always a guy that I like to use from Oakland and quietly had a really good year, while Kyle Tucker is probably my favorite Astro hitter to use against any of the Oakland righties.

 

Betting Advice: 

I don't love the juice on Oakland, but I love them to win the series. I would definitely bet them at -136 or consider parlaying them with the Yanks or Rays to get better odds. I can't say that I like Oakland to win the AL or the series, so bet those next two rounds at your own risk. They simply don't have enough firepower in their lineup or depth in their rotation to contend with the Yanks, Rays, or the Dodgers (assuming they are the NL champ).



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RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More