The National League Division Series picture will come into focus once the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants have vied for that final spot on Wednesday night at Citi Field (8.09pm ET).
The winner won’t have much time to rest on their laurels however as a date with baseball’s best team, the 103-win Chicago Cubs awaits on the other side. That series, as well as the other NLDS series between the division winning Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West and Washington Nationals in the NL East, begins this Friday.
We’ll have a full in depth preview of these opening round contests later in the week but for now we’re going to focus on the all-important wildcard one-game playoff.
Wildcard Play-In Game: NYM vs SF
This is going to likely turn into a pitcher’s duel for the ages. That’s because taking the mound for the Mets is Noah Syndergaard, who finished the regular season fourth in the NL in strikeouts and 3rd in ERA, and taking the mound for the Giants is Madison Bumgarner (pictured). He has been in this situation before and is one of the best postseason pitchers of this or any other generation.
Bumgarner has pitched in parts of three postseasons for the Giants, and the team won the World Series every time. That’s because ever since 2010, San Francisco has only made the playoffs in even-numbered years but every time they have, they’ve won the ultimate prize. Well, 2016 is an even-numbered year but once again it comes down to Bumgarner to save the season.
In 14 games played, 12 of which were starts, Bumgarner has tossed 88.1 innings, allowing just 15 walks while striking out 77. He has a 7-3 record with a WHIP of just 0.88 and a playoff ERA of 2.14. His 2014 postseason, in which he recorded two shut outs and allowed an ERA of just 1.03 is considered to be one of the best single-season playoff pitching performances of all-time.
And if you can believe it, this year, Bumgarner might be even better as entering these playoffs, he is coming off throwing the lowest regular season ERA of his career (excluding 2010 when he pitched in just 18 games) at 2.74, the most strikeouts at 251 and the least amount of hits allowed since 2013. Against the Mets earlier this year, he struck out seven in six shutout innings. Over the last five years against New York, of players with at least nine at bats against him, only Jose Reyes and Yoenis Cespedes are hitting above the Mendoza Line.
Facing Bumgarner is no easy task but fortunately for the Mets, it’s not just any guy they have up for that challenge. In fact, statistically speaking, Syndergaard, who goes by the nickname ‘Thor,’ has been just as good in his first full year in the majors, if not better than Bumgarner this season.
Syndergaard finished up the year leading all New York starters in ERA and strikeouts and is considered by many to be a guy who could get some Cy Young votes. He won’t win it, thanks to a pitcher he could duel against in Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks, but his body of work this year speaks for itself. In fact, in a year when Mets’ starters were going down left and right, Syndergaard was a constant. He is a big part of the reason that New York is back in the playoffs, with a chance to make the World Series for the second year in a row.
The young righty will be taking the mound on seven days’ rest which is a nice luxury to have. However, this is just one game and as far as the experience in that kind of situation, the edge does have to go to Bumgarner.
Our Preview’s San Francisco Giants at New York Mets Betting Picks’ Predictions
There’s a saying that goes “once is chance, twice is a coincidence, third time is a pattern.” While baseball games don’t really boil down to chance as it is skill and talent that often gets you to the pinnacle of the sport, in the simplest terms, the Giants winning in 2010 was chance.
It happening again in 2012, coincidence. But winning the third time making it so that every even-numbered year since 2010 they were victorious, it’s hard to deny that is not a pattern. Granted, it’s kind of a weird pattern that holds little logic but it’s still a pattern.
When it comes to betting predictions, these kinds of patterns can be both our best friend and worst nightmare. Because on one hand you want to pick the better team but on the other, if that team is against the Giants are you really willing to risk that maybe just maybe, devoid of explanation, 2016 could be the fourth time in a row?
Maybe when it comes to the larger NL picture I’ll be a little more willing to test that theory but for now, this preview is putting its money on the Giants and Bumgarner’s veteran experience to win in New York and advance to take on the Cubs.
- Bet on the San Francisco Giants on the moneyline @ best betting odds of -103 with BetOnline Sportsbook. It is -105 with 5Dimes and -109 with Bovada.
- As our prediction for the total runs in the game, I was thinking anything under seven with these two aces in the pitchers park that is Citi Field. This is definitely going to be a pitching duel for the ages but the sportsbooks are onto that theory and go over / under just six runs. That might be a touch too low and the betting value lies going higher, so I’d go over 6 at best odds of +100 (evens) with any of 5Dimes, Bovada or BetOnline.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.