Vegas Sports Masters National League Divisional Round Preview

National League Divisional Round Preview

The 2015 National League Divisional round begins Friday with a pair of evening affairs. The Wildcard Chicago Cubs visit the NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals at 6:45 p.m. ET, followed by the NL East champion NY Mets visiting the NL West champion LA Dodgers at 9:45 p.m. ET.

As we did yesterday in the AL, we've put together some handicapping notes for you...

SERIES PRICES
Chicago Cubs -115 over St. Louis (-105)
LA Dodgers -205 over the NY Mets (+175)

Chicago has been so impressive down the stretch that they're a series favorite even though St. Louis begins with home field advantage. Part of the pricing involves how much "the public" loves betting the Cubs in Vegas. But, professional bettors have done very well with this team and should continue backing them. Sportsbooks lost a bunch of money on "Regular Season Victory" propositions because the Wise Guys were high on the Cubs entering the season. The Dodgers are prohibitive favorites over the Mets because of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and home field advantage if three of the five games if needed.

GAME ONE PRICES
St. Louis (Lackey) pick-em over Chicago (Lester), total of 6.5
LA Dodgers (Kershaw) -200 over NY Mets (deGrom), total of 5.5

Pitchers duels are expected in both given those low totals. Can Chicago regain its focus so quickly after celebrating an emotional Wildcard win in Pittsburgh? Expect a lot of strikeouts in the nightcap. At least the game should move quickly for those of you staying up late on the East Coast!

ROAD ONLY OFFENSE
NY Mets: 4.6 runs per game, .319 on base, .411 slugging
Chicago Cubs: 4.5 runs per game, .321 on base, .400 slugging
St. Louis 4.1 runs per game, .311 on base, .391 slugging
LA Dodgers: 4.0 runs per game, .331 on base, .401 slugging

As we mentioned yesterday, "road only" offense is the best way to get a clean look at these attacks. That's particularly important with the Mets and the Cubs…who were seen as having poor offenses all season because of the parks they play in. Wind didn't help hitters much in Wrigley this season (it usually hurt). And, the Mets play in a poor visibility park where the ball doesn't travel very well. Put these offenses in other parks, and they can do some damage! In fact, the Mets were #3 in the whole major leagues in road offense, while the Cubs were #5. Their pitchers had to bat while the AL was using DH's!

The Dodgers are a mystery, as they should have scored a lot more than they did given their on-base and slugging. The talent is there…but timely hitting has been awful. St. Louis has to win with pitching relative to the others. They do have a lot of it.

CHICAGO CUBS STARTERS
Jake Arrieta: 1.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 9.3 K-Rate, 6.9 IP per start
Jon Lester: 3.34 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 9.1 K-Rate, 6.4 IP per start
Jason Hammel: 3.74 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 9.1 K-Rate, 5.5 IP per start
Kyle Hendricks: 3.95 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 8.4 K-Rate, 5.6 IP per start

Arrieta has been fantastic…but depth becomes an issue as you go further down. Remember that the home park was helping pitchers this season. Can the back of the rotation get the job done? Can Arrieta continue to dominate or is he due to fall back to earth after carrying such a load down the stretch and Wednesday night?

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS STARTERS
Jaime Garcia: 2.43 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 6.7 K-Rate, 6.5 IP per start
John Lackey: 2.77 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 7.2 K-Rate, 6.6 IP per start
Carolos Martinez: 3.01 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 9.2 K-Rate, 5.9 IP per start
Lance Lynn: 3.03 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 8.6 K-Rate, 5.7 IP per start
Michael Wacha: 3.38 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 7.6 K-Rate, 6.0 IP per start

Wow…quality and depth…the hallmark of the Cardinals staff for many years now. That's been one of their secret keys to divisional domination. No weak spots in the rotation! They can just keep rolling up victories while other teams split out by winning with their aces but losing with the back end.

NEW YORK METS STARTERS
Jacob deGrom: 2.54 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 9.7 K-Rate, 6.4 IP per start
Matt Harvey: 2.71 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 8.9 K-Rate, 6.5 IP per start
Noah Syndegard: 3.24 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 10.0 K-Rate, 6.3 IP per start
Jonathan Niese: 4.13 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 5.8 K-Rate, 5.5 IP per start
Bartolo Colon: 4.16 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6.3 K-Rate, 6.0 IP per start

Only three or four of those arms will go. It's not certain yet who will be backing up the kid flamethrowers who are set for the first three games. Very easy to talk yourself into the Mets as a dog value team given those top three studs. Remember to look at what the Dodgers bring to the table…

LOS ANGELES DODGERS STARTERS
Zack Greinke: 1.66 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 8.1 K-Rate, 7.0 IP per start
Clayton Kershaw: 2.13 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 11.6 K-Rate, 7.1 IP per start
Mike Bolsinger: 3.62 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 8.1 K-Rate, 5.2 IP per start
Brett Anderson: 3.69 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 5.8 K-Rate, 5.8 IP per start
Alex Wood: 4.35 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 6.3 K-Rate, 5.9 IP per start

Looks like Anderson will go in Game Three. Then LAD will have to decide if they want to bring back a superstar arm on short rest or not. Frontline pitching matters more than anything else in the baseball playoffs. What you see from Greinke and Kershaw explains why the team is so highly regarded by sharp bettors as the postseason gets under way.

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As you read this the divisional round of the MLB playoffs is already under way.  Go deep every day with THE VEGAS-SPORTS-MASTERS!

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