There’s nothing like making a bet on a decisive game. Whether it’s a hockey Game 7, a football playoff matchup or a Game 5 in baseball, what you know from the regular season goes out the window because both teams are going all out to win this game. In baseball, it’s even harder to nail down because pitchers constantly change.
That means that more than any other sport, the coaching matchup matters here. In hockey, line changes are important, but good teams can get personnel on and off during a shift. In football, it’s more of a war of attrition than a chess match. But in baseball, the manager has to know when to change pitchers or hitters and who can produce. And that requires a feel for the game.
We’ll explore that shortly. Here are my picks for October 17.
NEW YORK CITY ML, -145
The Pigeons got forced out of Yankee Stadium for their playoff game with Inter Miami because the Yankees are using it to face Cleveland in the ALDS, so this match will happen at Citi Field. I don’t think NYCFC lasts very long in the MLS playoffs, but I think they can handle the Herons, who won four road matches all year and are banged up pretty badly as they make the trek north. The under should be a strong play with Citi Field not being a soccer facility, and I might try NYCFC to win to nil at +180.
FC DALLAS ML, -105
Minnesota is in terrible form as it enters the postseason, as the Loons have dropped four straight on the road and six of eight to enter the playoffs. To make matters worse, those road games didn’t come against tough playoff sides. In that stretch, Minnesota made visits to San Jose, Portland and Sporting Kansas City, all of whom will be watching the playoffs from home. The Dallas defense is weak, but the Toros should have enough to handle Minnesota.
CHARGERS ML, -225
Yes, people complain about having to watch the Broncos in prime time. The reality is that the NFL is hamstrung by the Rams and Chargers sharing a market and a stadium, and in a year where the AFC West and NFC West face each other, you’re going to get these situations because both teams have to play at least 12 games at 4 p.m. or in prime time. Here’s another reality: Denver is a wretched 2-17 SU in its past 19 AFC West road games. Watching the Broncos in prime time might not be fun, but fading them is.
BRUINS ML, +115
Florida usually doesn’t play very well in TD Garden, and the Panthers are on their third road game in five days. We saw what dead legs did to the Rangers in Winnipeg, and I think having to go from New York to Buffalo to Boston is going to take its toll on Florida here. Plus, the Panthers aren’t connecting on their power play and the Bruins are. The plus money here is worth the risk.
GUARDIANS ML, +125
If you had to pick between Aaron Boone and Terry Francona to manage a game, who would you trust? It’s got to be Francona, and that gives the edge to Cleveland. Home field has meant nothing in MLB lately, as the home team is 10-16 in the past 26 decisive games. Cleveland has the better bullpen, and Francona isn’t scared to use his pitchers properly.
I think the Yankees have to win this game against Cleveland starter Aaron Civale. If they don’t do it, I don’t see them getting this done.