The MLB playoffs begin tonight with a pair of Wild Card games. The winner of the Braves-Cardinals game will move on to face the Nationals in the divisional round, while the winner of the Orioles-Rangers matchup will take on the Yankees.
Don’t forget: It’s win-or-go-home.
Here is a brief overview of tonight’s games:
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS @ ATLANTA BRAVES
When Kris Medlen starts, the Braves don’t lose. At least not in the last couple years, anyway. Medlen, the team’s ace right-hander, is 9-0 as a starter and has posted a 1.57 ERA. Of course, he’s spent the majority of his time as a reliever.
Atlanta is listed as a -170 favorite to advance and the game’s total is set at 6.5 at most books. Atlanta won five of the six regular season meetings and scored at least five runs in each victory. However, the Braves will be up against Kyle Lohse, who put together an impressive season (16-3, 2.86 ERA) and has lost just once after the All-Star break.
The Cards have an experienced roster and went 12-4 down the stretch, a regular-season finish similar to the one they had last year before winning the World Series. At +160, the value is too good to ignore. We think these teams are even and like the plus-money value you’re getting here.
The pick: St. Louis Cardinals.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES @ TEXAS RANGERS
It’s the overachievers against the underachivers. The Orioles are in the postseason for the first time in 15 years and are up against a Rangers team that blew a 13-game lead in the AL West before finishing 93-69.
Orioles starter Joe Saunders has never won a game at the Ballpark in Arlington, but he’ll be up against an opponent—Yu Darvish—who is making his first postseason appearance and has never faced the Orioles. (Darvish pitched against every other AL team this year.)
Baltimore has earned the public’s respect but still isn’t getting it, and this line seems too high for a one-and-done game with so much at stake. The Rangers haven’t played well for a couple of weeks, finishing 3-7 down the stretch and losing their final three games.
Yes, it’s a long shot. But this line seems like it should be closer to -160 / +150 given the circumstances.
The pick: Baltimore Orioles.