Free MLB Picks Tuesday 9/29/2020 and Opening Line Report
The MLB playoffs are here! We’re down to 16 teams in the MLB, and Tuesday features all four games in the AL to start the playoffs. The higher seed in each series will host the lower-seeded teams for all three games in the Wild Card series. Therefore, the Twins, Athletics, Rays, and Indians will all be home for their respective series’. Here are the leans for the first AL Wild Card games in 2020.
Astros vs Twins 9/29/20 (-165, 7.5)
The Astros and Twins will face off in the first AL Wild Card game of the season. The Twins will send out Kenta Maeda, while the Astros will pitch Zack Greinke on the road.
Maeda was 6-1 on the season with a 2.70 ERA along with a 3.00 FIP. Maeda stuck out 10.8 batters per nine innings and walked a very low 1.35 batters per nine innings. He also received ground balls at nearly 50 percent of the time. But when he allowed runs, they were usually home runs. Maeda allowed 1.22 home runs per nine innings this season.
Meanwhile, Zack Greinke has struggled a bit to close out the season. He went 3-3 in 12 starts with a 4.03 ERA but a 2.80 FIP. Greinke had been a bit unlucky with balls in play as batters were hitting .321 against him this season when balls were in play. His strikeouts were high, and walks were low, and Greinke rarely allowed a home run.
Greinke’s batting average of balls in play is a bit concerning. I’d rely on the Twins offense more, especially at home.
Key trends: Twins are 6-2 in their last 8 games following an off day.
Early lean: Twins, Over
White Sox vs Athletics 9/29/20 (+110, 7.5)
While the Athletics are the favorites in this game and to win the series, the White Sox certainly will have their chance to pull off the upset.
It starts with Game 1. The Twins will pitch Lucas Giolito, who is 4-3 with a 3.48 ERA on the season along with a 3.19 FIP. He’s striking out a high amount of batters per nine innings, but his walks can also get a bit high. Giolito pitched a no-hitter earlier this season and has the tools of an ace pitcher. He’s looked solid this year despite low ground ball numbers.
The Athletics will pitch Jesus Luzardo, who hasn’t been great this season. He’s 3-2 with a 4.12 ERA and a 4.19 FIP. Luzardo has a high BABIP of 3.06 and allows 1.37 home runs per nine innings.
The White Sox could really pull off the series upset. They’ll snag the first game of the series.
Key trends: White Sox are 6-2 in their last 8 playoff road games.
Early Lean: White Sox, Over
Blue Jays vs Rays 9/29/20 (-185, 7.5)
The Rays will take on the Blue Jays in what should be the one game with early bullpen duties for both sides.
Blake Snell is scheduled to get the first game of the series for the Rays. He’s 4-2 in 11 games but has pitched only 50 innings. He doesn’t go deep in games and has had his struggles this season at times. Snell has a high strikeout rate and allows 3.24 walks per nine innings along with 1.8 home runs per nine innings.
On the other hand, the Blue Jays will look to Matt Shoemaker for the first game of the series. Shoemaker has a 4.71 ERA and a 5.95 FIP on the season. He’s got average strikeout numbers and doesn’t walk too many, but he’s allowing 2.51 home runs per nine innings. Shoemaker gets the ground ball nearly 50 percent of the time, but he’ll need to limit the long ball in this game.
Key trends: Rays are 40-13 in their last 53 home games.
Early Lean: Rays, Over
Yankees vs Indians 9/29/20 (-110, 6.5)
Here’s the game of the night. The Yankees will pitch Gerrit Cole, and the Indians will send out Shane Bieber.
These two are arguably the best pitchers in the AL and in the MLB. Cole is 7-3 on the season with a 2.84 ERA and a 3.89 FIP. He’s got high strikeout numbers and low walks but has allowed 1.73 home runs per nine innings. To be fair, Cole has looked in perfect form to close out September.
Meanwhile, Bieber is 8-1 with 14.2 strikeouts per nine innings and low walks as well. However, Bieber allows some heavy hard contact when batters make contact with his pitches.
The Yankees will strikeout plenty, but one of those bats in the lineup should connect and send one long gone. The Indians only have Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor to rely on in the offense.
Key trends: Cole is 3-1 when starting against Cleveland with a 2.50 ERA and WHIP of .750.
Early lean: Yankees, Over
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