This is the first year of MLB’s expanded 12-team playoff. Eight of those teams must compete in the wildcard round — and we have winning picks on each of those MLB playoff matchups right here. Read this before you even think about laying a bet down!
How Does MLB Wildcard Round Work?
Given the newness of this playoff format, it would pay to first explain how the MLB wildcard round even works. If you remember, in years past, only four teams competed in the wildcard — two in each league. These qualified teams would meet in a single win-or-go-home game to advance to the league divisional series. All of that has been scrapped for 2022 and the years that follow.
Not only has the postseason field been expanded from 10 to 12 — meaning one extra wildcard entrant per league — but two division winners must also compete in this round now. It’s no longer a single game, but a legit best-of-three series. So each league will have two wildcard series a piece, putting a division winner vs. a wildcard entrant.
The top-two teams of each league received automatic byes based on their record. The two bye teams in the AL are Houston and New York, while Los Angeles and Atlanta get the rest out in the NL. We should note, the Divisional Series remains best out of five. Seven-game series are still the norm in the League Championship Series and World Series. With that out of the way, let’s move on to our betting picks!
2022 MLB Wildcard Series Picks
All four MLB wildcard series can be bet on at top-used sites for baseball betting. We’ll be making free picks on the outright series winner, but of course, wagers can be made on single games in the usual way too — run line, moneyline, run totals, props. Here’s how we advise parking your money ahead of Game 1’s on Friday and Saturday.
Cleveland Guardians vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Here’s a crazy but true stat: Cleveland’s record against division opponents this year was 47-29. Against the rest of the league? A meager 45-41. The AL Central was the worst in all of baseball (no team had a winning record aside from the Guardians) so this stat proves Cleveland’s might be overrated, and at the very least, undeserving of being betting favorites in this one. We’re picking Tampa as the underdog play!
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Seattle Mariners
For the first time in more than 20 years, Seattle is playoff-bound. However, they run into a buzzsaw of sorts with Toronto, a team that beat them in five of seven regular-season games. October baseball leans toward pitchers, but in this series, hitting will likely determine the winner. Behind the big bats of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and George Springer, few offenses league-wide are as explosive as the Jays.
Pitching is what ended the Mariners’ playoff drought, but we’re not sure it can get them out of this series with a victory. Maybe the Jays' offense can be slowed down, but not stopped entirely. Seattle will need to score to advance, but we have to remember its lineup is anemic. The Mariners’ office tied for 26th in the MLB in team batting average (.230). Yikes — that won’t be enough to win this series so bet on Toronto.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals
While the Cardinals have the home-field advantage here, we’re actually betting on the Phillies to advance. Simply put, its starting pitching rotation is elite. Its top-two starters — Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola — can hang with any other team in the league. Since September 1, Wheeler’s ERA is an eye-popping 0.60 and Nola is at 2.36. We think Philly can sweep behind both aces, and even in the event of a Game 3, the Phillies' other pitcher, Ranger Suárez, can hang. St. Louis is a solid team but a three-game series favors the big arms of Philadelphia.
New York Mets vs. San Diego Padres
|New York Mets||-175||-175||-175|
Speaking of pitching, the Mets arguably have the best postseason-ready rotation of all 12 teams. Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom are both Cy Young winners, and at last, are healthy. Even without both unavailable for long stretches of the season, New York won 101 games, narrowly missing out on the division crown. Nonetheless, you could argue this is the franchise’s best team in a good 30 years or so.
While depth wins games over a 162-game regular season, playoffs are about star players maxing out their ceiling. San Diego isn’t lacking stars, but we just don’t think they’re superior to New York — especially when it comes to pitching. The Mets have the talent to go all the way, which is why they’re the no-brainer bet of this series.
How To Bet On 2022 MLB Playoffs?
October baseball is just different — both as a spectator and a bettor. Stakes are high on every pitch and so is the intensity, which makes the thrill of winning a bet even more worthwhile. To bet on the 2022 MLB playoffs, hit one of the underneath sportsbooks. They’ll have lines available all the way until the World Series.
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