The long summer days of regular-season baseball being our only midweek option are over for a while.
October is one of the best sports months, and it’s because of days like Wednesday. Whatever your favorite sport, you probably have it on your TV today.
We’ll start the betting breakdown with baseball, since there are two playoff games.
First, the Philadelphia Phillies are trying to take a sudden 2-0 lead over the San Diego Padres in the NLCS. The Padres are a small -120 favorite at BetMGM. Then in the ALCS we get the New York Yankees, fresh off their ALDS win on Tuesday, for Game 1 against the Houston Astros. The Astros are a -200 favorite.
In the NLCS the Padres have Blake Snell on the mound against Aaron Nola. Nola is really good, but Snell has been too since Aug. 30. In his last seven regular-season starts he had a 1.76 ERA and struck out 55 batters in 41 innings. He had a rough wild-card round start against the New York Mets, walking six in 3.1 innings, but bounced back by allowing one run in 5.1 innings in an NLDS start against the Los Angeles Dodgers as the Padres won.
Nola was excellent in September as well, and hasn’t allowed a run in 12.2 postseason innings. It’s a great matchup, but I’ll go with the more desperate Padres.
The Yankees are in a tough spot. A rainout Monday forced them to play Tuesday, then get right on a plane for Houston. The Astros have been a problem for the Yankees, and Game 1 starter Justin Verlander gave up just one run to New York in an Astros win on June 24. I still couldn’t take the Astros as a -200 favorite. Sometimes the rest angle can be overrated; professional baseball players are used to playing without many off days. Maybe the momentum from beating the Cleveland Guardians carries over for the Yankees to Wednesday night.
Here is the first look at the sports betting slate for a busy Wednesday:
NBA is back
The NBA had two games to kick off the season on Tuesday, but it really feels like the season starts Wednesday. We get 12 games.
There’s plenty to choose from. A fun, young New Orleans Pelicans team is at the Brooklyn Nets, who are just a 3.5-point favorite. The Cleveland Cavaliers had a fine offseason, but they’re 2.5-point underdogs at the Toronto Raptors. The New York Knicks are 4.5-point underdogs at a strong Memphis Grizzlies team in the first game of the ESPN doubleheader, and in the second game the Dallas Mavericks face the Phoenix Suns, who are favored by 4.5. (I’ll take the Cavs, Grizzlies, Suns in a revenge game from the Mavs’ Game 7 playoff blowout at Phoenix last season, and Pelicans-Nets is a layoff but worth watching … if you have like seven screens.)
NHL, soccer, football too
There are three NHL games including one between the 3-0-0 Philadelphia Flyers and 2-1-0 Florida Panthers. The Panthers are an overwhelming -350 favorite. In the lone college football game on Wednesday we get Georgia State at Appalachian State, which is a 9.5-point favorite at home.
There are also five English Premier League soccer matches, headlined by a really good Manchester United-Tottenham clash. Man U is +135, Tottenham is +190 and the draw is +240 on the three-way line.
What’s the best bet?
I’ll go for an off-the-radar NBA game and take the Detroit Pistons, who were very good to us late last season, as a 3.5-point home favorite against the still-rebuilding Orlando Magic. I will be backing the Pistons a lot early this season until they give me a reason not to. On any other day, a season opener between the last two No. 1 overall picks (Cade Cunningham of the Pistons and Paolo Banchero of the Magic) would be a headliner. Not Wednesday.