MLB Picks and Parlays for October 21, 2023: Harper and Wheeler

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Welcome to The Bet Club and our experts MLB Picks and Parlays for 10-21-2023: Harper and Wheeler steal the show for this one. The Arizona Diamondbacks have shown their resilience on home turf during the NLCS, managing to secure wins in Game 3 and Game 4 to level the series at 2-2. Game 5 brings a rematch of the starting pitchers from the Phillies’ 5-3 victory in Game 1. It’s Zack Wheeler vs. Zac Gallen, and we’re here to break down the key player prop bets for today’s game.

MLB Pick: Zack Wheeler (PHI) over 16.5 outs recorded (-115) (1u)

At the time of this publication, the odds are available at BetMGM Sportsbook and playable up to -140. Zack Wheeler boasts an impressive postseason WHIP of 0.70 across 54.2 combined innings in the last two seasons. He’s set to face the Arizona Diamondbacks once again in a rematch of his outstanding Game 1 performance. Wheeler, the right-handed ace of the Phillies, went a solid six innings, throwing just 82 pitches, allowing a mere 3 base runners, and tallying 8 strikeouts. This is the third time he’s gone up against this offense this year, and in each of those games, he’s completed 6 innings.

As we approach the tail end of the regular season and the playoffs, it’s hard to make a case for any pitcher better than Zack Wheeler. He’s been dominating his opponents with his lethal 4-seam fastball, which has consistently maintained its velocity throughout his starts. His precision in locating this pitch at the top of the zone makes it challenging for opponents to catch up, given the threat posed by the rest of his arsenal. Wheeler deploys both a slider and a cutter, and yes, they are distinct pitches. Furthermore, he uses a curveball as his third most frequently thrown breaking ball, and a sinker provides him with another double-digit usage fastball. These offerings complement each other seamlessly when he’s on top of his game, and lately, Wheeler has been just that.

This postseason, Wheeler has delivered 19 innings with a 2.37 ERA, 2.04 FIP, 1.98 xFIP, and 1.76 SIERA. He has an impressive 26 strikeouts against just one walk, forcing his opponents to beat him within the strike zone. Wheeler’s 81.6% zone contact rate allowed in these playoffs is 2.9% lower than the next closest starting pitcher remaining in the postseason. His average 4-seam velocity stands at 96.2, an improvement over his 95.8 regular-season average. There are no signs of fatigue in his performance. Wheeler is heading into this game with four days of rest, which has been his most successful split in terms of days between starts this season. He made 11 starts with this rest configuration, amassing 69 innings with a 0.93 WHIP and a 2.09 ERA. While strikeouts were somewhat lower in that sample, efficiency is the key here, and we want to avoid long counts of 6 or more pitches.

Notably, when dealing with volume-based pitching props in the postseason, it’s crucial to consider the bullpen situation. This postseason has seen days off between games during series, giving bullpens extra time to rest. This has led to fresh relievers and quick hooks for starting pitchers. However, in this series, there hasn’t been a day off since Game 2, and the Phillies’ bullpen is quite taxed heading into tonight’s game. They used eight pitchers in yesterday’s game, including Jose Alvarado and Jeff Hoffman, who also saw action in Game 3. While they may be available if needed, they may not be in their best form due to their recent usage. Craig Kimbrel, who was also used in both of those games, is unlikely to be available.

However, they still have other bullpen options despite the heavy bullpen use. It’s worth noting that the manager, Rob Thomson, might be more comfortable with this approach considering his choice of starter for tonight. The suggested play for this prop is up to -140 odds as listed above, but if you find a 17.5 number with less juice, it’s also a viable option. If you’re concerned about overs on out props at this late stage in the season, consider pivoting to Wheeler’s under 1.5 walks issued prop, which is available at -125 odds on a couple of books. Wheeler has the ability to stay under this mark even if he pitches deep, and a hypothetical short leash could work in our favor.

MLB Pick: Bryce Harper (PHI) over 0.5 walks recorded (-115) (0.5u)

The odds for this bet are available at BetMGM Sportsbook and playable up to -130. Bryce Harper’s ability to draw walks has been evident throughout this series, and the regular season matchups between these teams. He’s recorded 1 or more walks in 10 out of 11 games. This bet isn’t based on hit rates, but rather on the clear strategy employed by Arizona to avoid pitching to him whenever possible.

In this series, Harper has seen only 21 out of 70 pitches within the strike zone. While he does chase pitches (ranking in the 21st percentile for chase rate during the regular season), this hasn’t prevented him from drawing walks at an impressive 14.7% clip, which ranks in the 96th percentile and is among the best in the league among qualified hitters. In the high-pressure environment of the postseason, where the opposition prefers to pitch to other players, Harper’s chances of getting hittable pitches have significantly decreased.

In tonight’s matchup, Harper faces the Diamondbacks’ ace, Zac Gallen. Although Gallen has been more effective at home this season, he struggled in Game 1, conceding 8 hits and 5 earned runs with 3 home runs and 2 walks. Harper had a home run against Gallen in his first plate appearance, but in their subsequent two encounters, he didn’t see any of Gallen’s pitches within the strike zone. In the third plate appearance, Harper drew a leadoff walk to start an inning, highlighting Gallen’s intention to pitch carefully around the dangerous left-handed hitter.

Gallen’s ability to limit walks was more pronounced in the early part of the season, but it slipped in the latter part. His walk rate increased from 1.75 BB/9 in the first half of the season to 2.36 BB/9 after the All-Star break. Including his last three postseason starts, where he issued 3, 2, and 2 walks, Gallen has allowed multiple walks in six of his last seven starts

MLB Parlay Selections: Wheeler Shines in Prime-Time Showdown with +867 Odds

The battle in Arizona took an intriguing turn as the Diamondbacks staged a remarkable comeback in Game 4, overcoming a 5-2 deficit at the bottom of the seventh inning. However, it raised significant questions about the Phillies’ bullpen as we approach Game 5. In this pivotal game, Philadelphia will heavily rely on their ace, Zack Wheeler, to provide the innings they need. Going up against the Diamondbacks, and with Zac Gallen on the mound, the stage is set for a classic showdown.

I’ve got three well-considered bets lined up for this crucial Game 5, and when combined into a parlay, they offer enticing odds of +867 on FanDuel Sportsbook. Let’s delve into each component of this NLCS Game 5 Same Game Parlay:

MLB Pick: No Run in First Inning (NRFI) (-136)

Zac Gallen experienced his fair share of difficulties while facing a boisterous Philadelphia crowd in Game 1. However, the scenario is different tonight, with Gallen pitching at home in front of the D-backs’ faithful. This change in environment could work to his advantage, and his performance at Chase Field throughout the regular season underscores the significance of pitching in his home ballpark. In 16 regular-season home starts, Gallen maintained a strong 2.47 ERA, boasting a stellar 12-3 record. This contrasts sharply with his 18 road starts, where he posted a less impressive 4.42 ERA. Additionally, in his three postseason starts, all of which occurred on the road, Gallen endured a 4.96 ERA. So, tonight’s home game could provide a boost to his performance, fueled by the energy of the crowd.

MLB Pick: Phillies First 5 Innings (-0.5) (+120)

The Phillies are in a must-win situation for this game to return to Philadelphia with a 3-2 series lead. In Game 1, the Phillies established a commanding 5-0 lead after the first five innings. Given Zack Wheeler’s dominance this postseason, we must lean in favor of Philadelphia during the first five innings. However, there’s considerable uncertainty surrounding their bullpen following its struggles in the previous night’s game. Four key relievers – Jose Alvarado, Jeff Hoffman, Craig Kimbrel, and Orion Kerkering – have all pitched on consecutive nights, putting their availability for tonight in question. This potentially limits the trustworthiness of the bullpen. To mitigate these concerns, it’s preferable to minimize their involvement. The Phillies are effectively relying on a total of 11 pitchers, as neither Taijuan Walker nor Michael Lorenzen have made appearances in the series thus far.

Zack Wheeler, on the other hand, is undeniably one of the top remaining starting pitchers in the postseason. Remarkably, he has even improved on his extraordinary 2022 postseason performance in 2023. Across three postseason starts, Wheeler has achieved an impressive 2.37 ERA, a remarkable feat after his 2.78 postseason ERA in the previous season. While some pitchers may perform better at home, Wheeler seems to shine on the road, as indicated by his 3.16 ERA in road games compared to a 4.13 ERA in home games. Regardless of the location, Wheeler’s playoff performances have been consistently dominant, boasting seven quality starts out of nine attempts in the past two seasons. Notably, Wheeler has achieved a scoreless first inning in eight of his last nine outings, reinforcing the potential for a scoreless first inning in Game 5.

MLB Pick: Ketel Marte 2+ Total Bases (-105)

Ketel Marte may have gone 0-for-3 against Zack Wheeler in Game 1 of this series. Still, historical success against Wheeler is noteworthy, as Marte boasts a lifetime 4-for-13 record against him, including one double and one home run. Consequently, Marte emerges as a potential threat capable of challenging Wheeler’s dominance. Moreover, Marte has been on fire this postseason, sustaining a 13-game hitting streak that extends to his games against the Dodgers in 2017. He has already recorded 15 hits in the first nine games of this postseason. A string of hits often translates to accumulating bases, and Marte has delivered 2 or more bases in seven of his initial nine postseason games. With such a favorable opportunity at almost even odds, Marte is well-positioned to extend his hitting streak and remain a prominent contributor to his team’s offense.

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