2015 National League Wild Card: Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates Preview

2015 National League Wild Card: Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates Preview at WagerTalk

In Major League Baseball’s second act, a Wednesday, October 7th, 2015, Wild-Card contest will determine the Final Four in the National League. The junior circuit determined their divisional series matchups when the Houston Astros defeated the New York Yankees 3-0 at Yankee Stadium.  Tonight’s postseason playoff event pits the visiting Chicago Cubs against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Tonight’s matchup between the Cubs and the Pirates will dictate who advances to the National League Divisional Series to meet the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium for Game #1 on Friday night, October 9th.

Both teams send Cy Young candidates to the hill in Jake Arrieta and Gerrit Cole. After spending the entire spring and summer executing a 162-game slate the two NL clubs that take the field tonight, Pittsburgh and Chicago, represent the second and third best records. respectively, in the major leagues.

Gameday Vitals
Chicago Cubs (-130, 5.5) at Pittsburgh Pirates
Time: 8:00 PM ET, Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Venue: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Weather: Partly cloudy with a slight breeze blowing in from the northwest. Temperatures at first pitch are forecast to be in the mid-sixties with a 15 percent chance of precipitation.

Cubs
The Chicago Cubs (94-65) and Arrieta are the visiting favorite tonight at PNC in Pittsburgh. Not only is there valid evidence and history to validate the north-siders as the chalk in tonight’s NL Wild-Card clash, for the most part the majority of the nation’s public would like to see an end to the Chicago Cubs title drought. The last time that Cubby fans celebrated a World Series title was in 1907.

Cubs right-hander Arrieta was 12-1 with a 0.75 ERA in the second half of the season.  In his warm-up for the postseason start tonight, in his last three trips to the mound, he 29-year-old scattered six hits and walked one in 22 scoreless innings of work while striking out 27.

It has been 107 years since the Cubs won the Fall Classic and they enter tonight’s tilt with the perceived upper hand winning the 2015 season series against the Pirates, going 11-8 with a 5-4 record at Wrigley Field, and a 6-4 record at PNC Park.

Finishing the regular season just one game below the Pirates (98-64), the Cubs closed the season strong and came within one win of forcing the wild-card game to be played on the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  The Cubs pitching staff surrendered a total of just nine runs during an eight-game winning streak to end the regular season.

The Chicago lineup was pedestrian against Pittsburgh starter, Cole, this season with third baseman Kris Bryant (3-for-9), first baseman Anthony Rizzo (6-for-17) and second baseman Starlin Castro (6-for-17) having the most success at the plate.

Pirates
Cole is one of the likely runners-up to Arrieta in the soon to be Cy Young voting but he too finished the 2015 regular season with a flourish. The Pittsburgh right-hander won his final three starts allowing just six runs on 17 hits over 21 innings while striking out 19. The former No. 1 overall draft pick shutdown the Chicago lineup as recently as September 25 surrendering one run on four hits in a victory that ran his record to 7-1 with a 2.88 ERA in nine career starts versus the Cubs.  Chicago’s batting order is a free swinging troupe and Cole struck out 32 Cub batters in just under 26 innings this season.

Pittsburgh not only enjoys the comfortable confines of home in this Wild-Card matchup they have the experience of postseason play under their belt, especially when it comes to one-game sudden-death tilts. The Bucs are making their third straight appearance in the one-game series winning the 2013 affair The Pirates know what it takes to win in this win-or-go-home scenario and evidence of such was seen in their final series this season. Chicago took two-of-three from Cincinnati over the final weekend of the regular season to finish one-game in front of the Cubs ensuring tonight’s game would take place at PNC where they own a 53-28 record in 2015.

Outlook
The word in most media circles, and on the north-side of Chicago, is that Cubs Jake Arrieta is unbeatable.  Just east of Illinois you will hear differently. The Ohio natives and media suggest that Cole was just as good as Arrieta in the final month of the season and that the veteran presence for the Pirates will trump that of the Cubs. Cole registered four starts, 2-1 record, 25 1/3 innings, 20 hits, six earned runs (2.13 ERA), four walks and 32 strikeouts versus the Cubs lineup this past summer. Chicago’s young group hit a mere .225 against him.

The Pirates had the lowest bullpen earned run average (2.69) in the league this year while the Cubs had a 3.39 bullpen ERA.

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Read more2015 National League Wild Card: Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates Preview

Updated World Series Odds after Astros beat Yankees 3-0

2015 World Series Odds: Mid-September Edition

2015 World Series Odds from Vegas

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Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1
St. Louis Cardinals 6-1
Kansas City Royals 4-1
Pittsburgh Pirates 14-1
Texas Rangers 10-1
Toronto Blue Jays 3-1
New York Mets 7-1
Chicago Cubs 10-1
Houston Astros 10-1

2015 NATIONAL LEAGUE PENNANT

Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1
St. Louis Cardinals 9-4
Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1
New York Mets 3-1
Chicago Cubs 9-2

2015 AMERICAN LEAGUE PENNANT

Kansas City Royals 9-5
Texas Rangers 9-2
Toronto Blue Jays 3-2
Houston Astros 9-2

*ALL BETS ARE ACTION DESPITE RELOCATION AND/OR NAME CHANGES

Scott Spreitzer’s 4% NL WILDCARD KNOCKOUT!

Read moreUpdated World Series Odds after Astros beat Yankees 3-0

2015 American League Wild-Card: Houston Astros at New York Yankees Preview

2015 American League Wild-Card: Houston Astros at New York Yankees Preview at WagerTalk

It wasn’t long ago, two years in fact, both the Houston Astros and the Kansas City Royals were the bottom feeders in the American League. Last year the same Royals team, for the most part, were playing in Game #7 of the World Series and this season two of the four teams that are involved in the AL postseason Final Four is Kansas City and the up-and-coming Astros.  The first test of the 2015 Major League Baseball Fall Classic tournament takes place today, at Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx, when New York hosts Houston in the American League Wild-Card contest.

With the Texas Rangers win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday the Astros were awarded a playoff berth. However, because Houston lost to the Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Arizona they will be playing as the visiting fourth seed in the AL Wild-Card game.

Gameday Vitals
Houston Astros (-110, 7) at New York Yankees
Time 8:00 PM ET, Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Venue: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Weather: Partly cloudy with a slight breeze blowing from the west. First pitch temperatures are expected to be in the mid-sixties with only a 5 percent chance of precipitation.

Astros
Major League Baseball pundits and Houston naysayers are giving the Astros very little chance of extending their 2015 success tonight in New York despite the oddsmakers posting the Astros as the money-line favorites with an opening price point of minus-125.  Just one of many reasons that baseball experts expect the Yankees to advance is the Sunday loss to Arizona meant that Houston and starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel would be taking residence in the final playoff spot, as a road team versus the AL East second place finishers, New York.

”I play with a chip on my shoulder,” Keuchel told the national press on Monday at Yankee Stadium. ”I think a lot of the guys do in there as well. And we’ll always carry that.”

Keuchel is a perfect 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA at home, in Minute Maid Park,  but a pedestrian 5-8 with a 3.77 ERA on the road in 2015. Throw in the fact that tonight’s start comes with only three days’ rest, and for the first time in his young career.  Keuchel did, however, win his last road turn at Yankee Stadium, striking out nine and scattered three hits in seven scoreless frames in New York on Aug. 25.  The Houston ace has been successful against the Bronx Bombers in his career. The southpaw is 2-1 with a 1.13 ERA in three career starts against the Yankees.

Yankees
The New York Yankees, who held first place in the AL East for most of the 2015 spring and summer, have backpedaled their way into postseason play.  The Bronx Bombers earned home field advantage in the American League wild-card game tonight with an 87-75 record, one game better than the Minute Maid Boys’ 86-76 mark.  The Yankees come into the postseason, losing six of seven games and the organization was presented additional drama on Monday when veteran pitcher CC Sabathia announced he would miss the postseason because he is checking into an alcohol rehabilitation center.

”For tomorrow, not just for the team, but maybe we can get the win for CC as well, ” said Yankees starter for tonight’s Wild-Card match, Masahiro Tanaka., after players and coaches meeting on what they could do to support their captain.

New York returns to the postseason following a two-year absence in both a win-loss, pitching and hitting slump. The Yankees have surrendered a total of 46 runs in the six losses in their last seven games. Tanaka, who has made only one start since Sept. 18 has been dealing with a leg injury, a hamstring strain,  and could be taking the 2015 postseason’s debut tonight, in limited fashion. Tanaka faced live hitters this past Wednesday,  against the Boston Red Sox, his first start in almost three weeks, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk in five innings of work.  This, like Houston starter, Keuchel, will be the Japanese native’s first postseason start.  Tanaka made his lone career start against Houston on June 27 and allowed six runs on seven hits in five innings of work surrendering three home runs in the process.

Outlook
The winner of tonight’s AL Wild-Card affair will advance to the Division Series and face the Kansas City Royals in a best-of-five matchup that begins Thursday night at Kaufman Stadium. Major League Baseball begins the journey to the Fall Classic tonight with; 2015 American League Wild-Card: Houston Astros at New York Yankees Preview.

The Astros won the season series by a 4-3 count and were shut down by the American League’s only 20-game winner failing to score a run in 16 innings against Keuchel.

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Read more2015 American League Wild-Card: Houston Astros at New York Yankees Preview

How Did Your Hometown MLB Team Do vs. Vegas Projections?

Each and every week WagerTalk News will update you on the latest futures and props direct from Las Vegas. Below you will find the the final MLB regular season win projections and divisional odds for the baseball season . CG Technology™ offers lines on all major race and sports events including football, basketball, baseball, hockey, car races, golf, tennis, and boxing, as well as unique propositions and electronic betting options (click here for a list of their Race & Sportsbook Operations).

Read moreHow Did Your Hometown MLB Team Do vs. Vegas Projections?

Blue Jays at Orioles Start Time and Free Pick

Marcus Stroman and the Toronto Blue Jays will be in Baltimore tonight for the second game of a four game set.  After winning game one, Toronto will take the field with a magic number of two, needing a win and Yankees loss to clinch the AL East division title. Since coming off the DL, Stroman has been lights out, pitching to the tune of a 1.89 ERA. Toronto has also received the good news that Troy Tulowitzki will be ready for a post season run as they are poised to win their division.

Baltimore on the other hand has been eliminated from post season contention and is trying to play the role of spoiler.  The Orioles will be activating Miguel Gonzalez off the DL to start tonight’s game. Gonzalez hasn’t pitched since August 30th and was dealing with right shoulder tendinitis, he will likely be on a pitch count and is 0-4 with a 6.81 ERA at home since May 19th.

The Blue Jays are ready to win this division and I’ll be riding them until they do.  I don’t see the Orioles matching Toronto’s energy and motivation.

Start Time: 7:05 PM on RSN, MAS2
Where: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland

Free Baseball Pick:  Take Toronto Blue Jays to win.

NO LIMIT: 5% CFB GAME OF THE MONTH

Read moreBlue Jays at Orioles Start Time and Free Pick

AL East Showdown: NY Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays Free Pick

The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays meet tonight for the rubber match of their three game series that is tied 1-1. Toronto carries a 2.5 game lead in the division into tonight’s game and will face Ivan Nova at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. Nova is filling in for the injured Masahiro Tanaka after recently being demoted to the bullpen. The Blue Jays have owned Nova, he carries a 7.59 earned run average against Toronto and they are hitting .323 against him in their last seven matchups.

Read moreAL East Showdown: NY Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays Free Pick