Greetings sports fans, it's Chris Bengel with you once again on this Tuesday. And it's a great Tuesday, considering that the MLB postseason officially gets underway in a few hours.
The action all gets started with the Boston Red Sox hosting the New York Yankees in the American League Wild Card Game. On the National League side of things, the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals will face off in the Wild Card Game on Wednesday. It seems insane that the Dodgers are forced to play in the Wild Card round, but that's what happens when you're in the same division as the San Francisco Giants.
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With the postseason about to get underway, I'll give you my leans as far as the World Series go. I believe that the Dodgers can go the distance and become back-to-back World Series champions. When you have a lineup that features Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner and Trea Turner, there are going to be hits aplenty against the opposition. The only question mark for the Dodgers is the health of Clayton Kershaw. If Kershaw can stay healthy and give Los Angeles solid innings in the NLDS and beyond, this is a team that can easily repeat.
But enough about looking ahead, let's dive into the picks for tonight's AL Wild Card Game.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
⚾ Yankees at Red Sox, 8:08 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Yankees (-125): This is about as closely-contested of a matchup that you're going to get in the playoffs. It all came down to the final day of the regular season, but the Red Sox and Yankees both qualified for the postseason. One of the biggest question marks in the entire postseason is going to be the performance of Yankees starter Gerrit Cole. It's been no secret that Cole has had his fair share of struggles of late. He's given up 15 earned runs over his last four starts.
But in his most recent start against the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sept. 26, Cole turned in a solid inning as he allowed just three earned runs over six innings in a Yankees win. In that start, he also only surrendered five total hits. In his postseason career, Cole has accumulated an 8-4 record to go along with a 2.68 ERA. Even if Cole struggles a bit, the Yankees have one of the best bullpens in baseball and the offense should do more than enough to win this game.
Key Trend: The Yankees are 4-0 in their last four Wild Card Games
💰 More AL Wild Card Game picks
The Pick: Gerrit Cole over 6.5 strikeouts (-150): I'm putting a large amount of stock into what Cole can do on the mound in Boston. As I mentioned earlier, Cole hasn't exactly been pitching at his usual All-Star level. However, I'm extremely confident that Cole can register seven strikeouts to reach the necessary number.
Cole has recorded at least six strikeouts in 15 of his last 16 starts. In addition, the Yankees ace has reached seven strikeouts in nine of those starts. Even if Cole produces a subpar outing, I believe that seven strikeouts is easily attainable, especially if the Yankees can grab an early lead over the Red Sox.
Key Trend: The Yankees are 4-1 in the last five meetings in Boston
The Pick: Giancarlo Stanton to hit a home run (+225): Normally, home run bets can be hit or miss, but this is one that I really feel good about. Besides being one of the more dangerous power hitters in the sport, Giancarlo Stanton has had a ton of success in the postseason when it comes to launching home runs. In his last two Wild Card Games, Stanton has hit a total of three home runs. Stanton hit a home run against the Oakland Athletics in 2018 and slugged two homers against the Cleveland Indians in 2020. With the trends firmly in Stanton's favor, it wouldn't be the slight bit shocking to see him hit a long ball.
Key Trend: In each of his last three games at Fenway Park, Stanton has hit a home run