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Sports MLB playoff picks: Back Fried to deal Dodgers 1st postseason loss

01:05  13 october  2020
01:05  13 october  2020 Source:   thescore.com

Eight things we learned from unprecedented day of MLB playoff games

  Eight things we learned from unprecedented day of MLB playoff games Wednesday was an unprecedented day in Major League Baseball history with eight playoff games taking place over a roughly 13-hour period. The most die-hard baseball fans stuck around until the final out, but those who didn't could probably use a quick refresher on the most important things that transpired. Our USA TODAY staffers have opened their notebooks to share their thoughts on each of the eight games on the wild card schedule – focusing on the game-changing (or potentially series-changing) moments. © Dale Zanine, USA TODAY Sports Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman hit .

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We carried the momentum from the divisional round into the championship series and nailed the under in Game 1 of the ALCS without even a sliver of doubt.

Our reward is a doubleheader on this holiday Monday, with Game 1 of the NLCS following Game 2 between the Rays and Astros.

Houston Astros (+110) @ Tampa Bay Rays (-130)

Under 8.5 turned out to be cake for us with Framber Valdez and Blake Snell on the mound Sunday, which helped the Rays grind out a 2-1 win. It was an expectedly frustrating night for hitters, but they will have their say in Game 2 when Charlie Morton takes on Lance McCullers Jr.

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The Dodgers have a day off on Thursday to recover, then a three-game series in San Francisco to salvage the season after tumbling out of first place with a 7-2 loss on Wednesday night to the D- backs , who slugged three home runs.The Dodgers were 2 1/2 games up.

Despite relatively low home run numbers against this season, McCullers has been due for regression in that area. The 27-year-old allowed a 10.3% barrel rate to opposing hitters and was tagged with a .415 xSLG. We saw that regression in the division series when he gave up three home runs in just four innings against the Athletics. McCullers departed after he allowed just four runs and was lucky the damage wasn't worse - he surrendered eight hits and a walk in those four frames.

Morton's season profile was similar in that regard - he allowed a 7.9% barrel rate to opposing hitters, jumping from 4.8 last season, while a .382 xSLG against was his worst mark since 2015. His hard-hit percentage and average exit velocity experienced jumps as well.

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POST %. Postseason projections are courtesy of FanGraphs and indicate each team's probability of winning the division or wild card, or any postseason berth. They incorporate up to date player projections, current roster composition, playing time projections and the remaining schedule.

The 36-year-old did seem to find a groove against the Yankees in the divisional round - his lone start of the postseason - but one strong outing isn't enough to erase a full season of work. The over is very much in play in Game 2.

Pick: Over 8 (-115)

Atlanta Braves (+125) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (-145)

Globe Life Field in Arlington - the home of the 2020 World Series - will play host to the Dodgers and Braves in the NLCS. Atlanta will send out southpaw Max Fried for Game 1, and while the Dodgers have raked against lefties in the postseason, it's simply too small a sample size. They were bang average in that regard in the regular season, hitting .250/.336/.442.

Fried is no ordinary lefty, either. The 26-year-old is coming off a breakout season with a 2.25 ERA across 11 starts. His 4.05 xFIP causes a bit of concern, but he has really finetuned his arsenal. He's throwing his slider and sinker more often, resulting in a lot more soft contact. A .289 xSLG and a 9.9% rate of weak contact on batted balls vastly improve on last season’s .387 and 3.2% marks.

How to watch Rays vs. Yankees ALDS Game 3: MLB playoffs live stream, schedule, TV channel, start time

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The Dodgers will open the MLB wild-card playoffs Wednesday against a Milwaukee Brewers team that backed its way into the National League 's No. 8 seed. Three losses added up to a huge win for the Milwaukee Brewers, who backed their way into a first -round playoff series against the Dodgers with

He's also had plenty of success keeping the ball in the yard - among pitchers to throw at least 50 innings this season, Fried's 0.32 HR/9 rate ranked third in MLB. The Braves starter has parlayed that into a successful postseason thus far. There was bad luck baked into his most recent outing, but he was flawless against the Reds and carried a 3.05 xFIP in the playoffs into Game 1.

The Dodgers counter with Walker Buehler, whose postseason has so far been underwhelming as he struggles with command. He's walked six batters in eight innings and failed to pitch into the fifth inning in either of his two starts. He still managed 16 strikeouts, but if the Braves can stay disciplined at the plate - just two teams walked more during the regular season - they can make this a short and uncomfortable start for the Dodgers ace. At this price, I'll buy in.

Pick: Braves (+125)

(Odds source: theScore Bet)

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

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