Finding Value in the MLB Divisional Round

The thrilling final day of the baseball regular season has produced four intriguing match-ups in the divisional round. While some teams stick out as clear favorites, there is opportunity to find plenty of value in the betting lines.

 

New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers

GAME DET NYY
Series 48% 52%
Odds +133 -147
Odds % 42% 58%
Value 6% -6%

The Yankees have just a small edge against the Tigers according to our simulations.  New York has decided to go with just a three-man rotation with CC Sabathia starting Games 1 and 4, Ivan Nova starting Games 2 and 5, and Freddy Garcia getting Game 3.  With the way the schedule shakes out, only the Game 4 starter (Sabathia) would be on short rest so we project Detroit to do the same with Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, and Max Scherzer.

Basically what our simulations say is that the Tigers are a better team than popular logic says, and the series odds are out of whack.  The current series line is -147 for the Yankees which translates to a 58 percent winning percentage.  AccuScore projects New York to win 52 percent of the time meaning the value is on Detroit.

Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays

GAME TB TEX
Series 35% 65%
Odds +147 -163
Odds % 40% 60%
Value -5% 5%

Tampa Bay reached the playoffs in the most dramatic of fashions in Game 162, but the quest to make it this far has strained the pitching staff.  Texas has been sitting back, and has lined up its rotation with C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, and Colby Lewis.  The Rays will likely turn to Jeff Niemann for Game 1 giving a significant advantage to Texas.  James Shields will follow Niemann meaning ace David Price will only get one start in the series.

This advantage in starting pitching has AccuScore projecting the Rangers to win the series 65 percent of the time.  The betting line for the series is -163 for Texas which translates into a lower number of 60 percent.  That means Texas – with its potent lineup and rested pitching staff – the value in this Division Series.

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

GAME ARI MIL
Series 36% 64%
Odds +141 -156
Odds % 41% 59%
Value -5% 5%

The Brewers represent a poor match-up for the NL West champion Diamondbacks.  Milwaukee has a strong pitching staff of strikeout pitchers in Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, and Shaun Marcum.  It also features big power hitters in Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, and Rickie Weeks.  Arizona’s two best pitchers (Ian Kennedy, Dan Hudson) are fly ball pitchers, and do not project to fare as well in this series than against other opponents.

Milwaukee is projected by our simulations as 64 percent favorites.  The series betting line is -156 in favor of the Brewers translating into a 59 percent winning percentage.  That means while Arizona is the underdog, it still isn’t the value bet some might think it is.  There is more value to taking the favored Brewers to advance to the NLCS.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals

GAME STL PHI
Series 40% 60%
Odds +248 -280
Odds % 28% 72%
Value 12% -12%

Like Tampa Bay, St. Louis’ thrilling run to reach the postseason has left the pitching staff a bit shuffled.  Ace Chris Carpenter won’t be able to start until Game 3 which means he likely will only throw in one game during the series (against Cole Hamels).  Kyle Lohse will start Game 1 against Roy Halladay, and he actually projects better than most would imagine.  Edwin Jackson is forecast for Game 2 against Cliff Lee.  Jaime Garcia likely gets the ball for St. Louis in Game 4, and Philadelphia will have to choose between either Roy Oswalt or Vance Worley.

St. Louis, if Rafael Furcal and Matt Holliday are in the lineup, could present a formidable opponent for Philadelphia.  The Phillies are still projected to win the day behind the strong pitching staff as they win the series in simulations 60 percent of the time.  That however is 12 percent less than the betting odds would indicate at the current -280 line.  The betting public loves the Phillies and rightfully so, but it appears the Cardinals are not getting enough respect.