The MLB playoffs are upon us.
The new Wild Card Series format debuts Friday as seeds Nos. 3-6 in each league play each other in four three-game series to advance to the divisional round. No. 3 hosts No. 6 in each league while No. 4 hosts No. 5.
All four series are televised on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC and will be done by the end of the weekend. That means we have wall-to-wall baseball this weekend. And lots of betting opportunities.
The four home teams are favored to win each series at BetMGM and you can check out the odds to win the series here. Three of the four home teams are favored in Friday’s games. The outlier is the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals host the Phillies and each team is -110 to win on Friday (2 p.m. ET, ABC) because of the starting pitching matchup. The Phillies are starting Zack Wheeler while the Cardinals are starting midseason acquisition Jose Quintana.
Quintana has pitched extremely well this season. His ERA is under 3.00 overall and has a 2.01 ERA in 62.2 innings with the Cardinals. And while it’s a small sample size, Quintana also has a 1.86 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 29 innings at Busch Stadium.
The No. 3 vs. 6 matchup in the American League is also seen as a bit of a tossup. The Cleveland Guardians are -120 to beat the Tampa Bay Rays (Noon ET, ESPN). The Rays have even odds to win with Shane McClanahan on the mound while the Guardians are countering with a Shane of their own in Shane Bieber. The total for the Rays and Guardians is also just 5.5 runs. That’s the lowest total of any of the four games.
The Toronto Blue Jays are at -140 to beat the Seattle Mariners (4 p.m. ET, ESPN) in Game 1 of their series. All-Star Alek Manoah takes the hill for the Blue Jays while the recently-extended Luis Castillo pitches for the Mariners. Seattle acquired Castillo from the Reds during the season and he’s posted a 3.17 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 65.1 innings with the Mariners.
And the biggest favorite of the day is the New York Mets at -145 to beat the San Diego Padres (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Mets are starting Max Scherzer in Game 1, while the Padres are countering with Yu Darvish. If the Mets win Friday, the team is likely going to hold back Jacob deGrom in the hopes of advancing to the NLDS. If they lose on Friday, deGrom will start on Saturday to keep the season alive.
Four college football games
There’s more than baseball on tap Friday. There are four college football games, headlined by Nebraska’s trip to Rutgers (7 p.m. ET, FS1). The Huskers are 3-point favorites and the total is 50.5. Nebraska got a win against Indiana in Week 5 and has the chance to salvage its season thanks to the mediocrity of the Big Ten West. Any season salvaging, however, must include a win against the Scarlet Knights.
The biggest game of the night should have been Houston’s trip to Memphis (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2), but neither team is really any good. The Tigers are 2.5-point favorites over a Cougars team that’s lost to Texas Tech, Kansas and Tulane so far this season. Houston had a chance to seize the AAC and make the title game again without Cincinnati and UCF on the schedule. Instead, it looks like qualifying for a decent bowl game will be a struggle.
Colorado State is a 3.5-point underdog at Nevada (10:30 p.m. ET, FS1). It's Colorado State coach Jay Norvell’s first trip to Reno as the Rams’ head coach after leaving Nevada at the end of the 2021 season. There’s not much else to say about this game. Both teams are in serious rebuilding mode at the bottom of the Mountain West Conference.
That’s why you should pick UNLV’s trip to San Jose State (10:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN) if you’re looking for some late-night MWC football. The Spartans are 6.5-point favorites over the Rebels. UNLV is one of the most improved teams in college football this season and an upset win would move the Rebels to within a game of bowl eligibility.
A big weekend of many other sports
There’s even more to bet on this weekend other than baseball and football, too. We’ve got some PGA Tour golf in Las Vegas, the NASCAR Cup Series race at the Charlotte Roval on Sunday, Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix overnight Saturday into Sunday and a full slate of European soccer. The final match day of the MLS regular season is also on Sunday. October is a heck of a sports month.
Who cashed tickets Thursday night?
Colts and under bettors were thrilled with the way the game played out. The ugly, terrible, no good 12-9 win for underdog Indianapolis was an easy cover and an easy under. If you’re a Broncos fan or a Broncos bettor, we hope you can enjoy your weekend.