An exciting MLB regular season ended with multiple tiebreakers, including an N.L. West showdown between the Dodgers and Rockies. By virtue of a Dodgers win Monday, the Cubs will host the Rockies in the scheduled one-game Wildcard round for the right to face Milwaukee in the Divisional Round.
For this game and the A.L. Wild Card game, we’ll break down the sports betting lines and recommend where to place your bets at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. This advice is also relevant for fantasy contests on sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel.
Keep an eye on injury news and weather right up until first pitch, and check the lineups Tuesday afternoon for updates.
N.L. Wild Card Baseball Betting
Colorado Rockies at Chicago Cubs
Over/Under: 7.5 runs
The Cubs limped to the finish line with the seventh-lowest wOBA (.291) and 10th-highest K-Rate (24.5%) in the MLB over the last 30 days. Yet they were consistently productive at Wrigley Field, ranking fifth in collective average (.263) and 10th in runs scored (385) at home.
They’ll turn to playoff veteran Jon Lester in a matchup with a Rockies team that ranked second in the Majors in average (.272), wOBA (.342) and HRs (74) when facing LHPs this season.
Current Rockies are hitting .272 (31-for-114) with 34 Ks in their careers against Lester. Notable splits include Charlie Blackmon (4-for-9, 2 XBH), Nolan Arenado (3-for-10, HR), and Ian Desmond (4-for-12, 3 XBH). The rest of the Rockies have struggled in a limited sample size against Lester, aside from washed-up veteran Matt Holliday.
Now, Lester has been clutch with a 2.55 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over 25 career postseason appearances. But he has struggled this year with his highest SIERA (4.57) since 2007. He did show that clutch gene with a 1.52 ERA when the Cubs needed him most in September. Yet he’s been tagged for 9 ER over two starts in “do-or-die” games; The 2014 A.L. Wild Card matchup between the A’s and Royals and Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS.
This game could hinge on how Lester fares in the early going since he’s virtually incapable of holding runners on first base. Blackmon is slashing .290/.350/.462 and is 6-for-7 on SB attempts off LHPs this season. Thus, he’s clearly capable of setting the table.
Lester also allowed LHBs to hit .313 with a .441 wOBA and 22.7% HR/FB ratio at Wrigley this year, giving Blackmon, and reigning N.L. Player of the Week David Dahl, appeal in Showdown DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel.
The Rockies threw German Marquez last night. He should be the only pitcher unavailable in an “all-hands-on-deck” situation.
Colorado seems to have found a new ace in LHP Kyle Freeland, who posted the lowest ERA (2.85) in franchise history this season. He tossed 96 pitches last Friday and will start on short rest.
Freeland simply doesn’t give up bombs: look at his 0.50 HR/9 ratio and 3.41 FIP on the road. He’s been lights out with a 2.49 ERA and a minuscule 4.7% HR/FB ratio since the ASB. Freeland owns a 10.07 K/9 ratio and .179 BAA when facing lefties, so Anthony Rizzo may be the only LHB in the Cubs starting lineup tonight.
Colorado closer Wade Davis has been off since Friday and will be ready to throw multiple innings if necessary.
The Cubs have rotated closers since losing Brandon Morrow (elbow) for the season. Pedro Strop (hamstring) is reportedly ready to go for Tuesday if needed, while Steve Cishek, Carl Edwards Jr. and Brandon Kintzler give the Cubs an edge in terms of bullpen depth.
If Freeland can’t go deep into the ballgame, RHP Antonio Senzatela might pitch in long relief. The second-year pitcher was better away from Coors Field but still allowed a 1.19 HR/9 ratio and 35.6% hard contact rate on the road against righties. Current Cubs are 12-for-39 (.308) with 6 walks in a limited sample against Senzatela.
The Cubs could also turn to RHP Kyle Hendricks or LHP Mike Montgomery if Lester struggles early. Cole Hamels might be used strategically in LvL matchups.
While the Cubs’ offense was awful in early September, their bats came alive for 30 runs over their final six games. Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez lead that lineup although neither matches up well against Freeland.
Daniel Murphy and Kyle Schwarber could both be absent from the lineup, with Albert Almora Jr. likely to lead off against a strong lefty. Almora is hitting .298 against LHPs this season. A favorite of Cubs manager Joe Maddon, Ben Zobrist is hitting .336 with a 38.7% hard contact rate when facing lefties this year.
The public is leaning toward betting the Cubs (-136) because of their playoff pedigree. Sixty-five percent of the money is flowing in on that side of the Money Line early on.
Experience truly matters in October. The Rockies may be a team on the rise, but their inexperience, combined with the Cubs superior bullpen, makes it easy to take the home team. Through August, the Rockies bullpen had a rough 5.00 ERA, but improved with a 2.98 ERA in September. That unit is still harder to trust than the Cubs bullpen.
Taking the Cubs (-1.5) on the Run Line is less appealing. Since Freeland has been so stingy, this has the makings of a one-run or two-run ball game heading into the later innings.
However, the Over (7.5) is drawing serious action with 73 percent of bets going in that direction. Note that Wrigley Field has one of the highest Run Factors in the Majors. These teams ranked second and fourth in runs scored amongst N.L. teams this year. We’re expecting some scoring.