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Rockies at Diamondbacks National League Wild Card Predictions
Colorado +155 @ Arizona -165 (O/U 8.5)
What a difference a year can make for this pair of NL West rivals who each finished 2016 with losing records. For both teams, 2017 has been a case of new managers, new season, new story.
Both squads played in the shadow of their dominant NL West division rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, but playoff baseball has a way of rendering the regular season irrelevant - a fact amplified by the Diamondbacks finishing six games ahead of the Rockies and still finding itself in exactly the same spot in this lose or go home contest.
From a raw emotion standpoint, an MLB Wild Card game might only be surpassed by the seventh game of a World Series. The crowd will live and die with every pitch, and managers Bud Black and Torey Lovullo will be willing to pull out all the stops. Predicting what might happen in a single baseball with so many variables is a difficult proposition, but as the betting line indicates, the D-backs have more than a few things working in their favor.
Let's take a clear look at the two reasons Arizona is the clear favorite here.
Home Field Advantage
This one can't be overstated. From the two-strike standing ovations resonating throughout Chase Field all evening to the celebratory mood in the ballpark, Arizona fans will be feeling good.
If the home team jumps out to an early lead, the environment will turn into a feeding frenzy that simply isn't seen during the MLB regular season. The D-backs have been solid at home all year posting a 52-29 record, while the Rockies are 41-40 away from the friendly confines of Coors Field. Notably, however, these two squads split ten games played at Chase this field.
Arizona's Zack Greinke (17-7, 3.20 ERA) is a proven veteran star coming off a good year. He's also an established commodity in the post season (3-3, 3.55 ERA) in nine career starts.
When the D-backs signed their ace to a massive contract two seasons ago, this is the kind of spot they had in mind for him. Colorado will counter with Jon Gray (10-4, 3.67 ERA, a 25-year-old right-hander making his first playoff start. Gray has been solid against the D-backs this year, but Greinke's experience and support from a sell-out crowd are a definite edge here.
Colorado Rockies at Arizona D-backs Predictions
Under 8.5 Runs
The Rockies have one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball featuring sluggers Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado who each hit over .300 this season while slugging 37 homers. But we've seen this narrative before when discussing the offensive stats of players who benefitted from playing half their games at hitters-friendly Coors Field.
In short, bettors seem to have short memories.
Let's also consider that D-backs MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt enters the playoffs off an 0 for 17 slump to finish the regular season. Eight and a hook seems like a lot of runs in this contest with good hurlers on the hill and a game that could feature its share of specialty relief appearances in the mid to later innings. Let's start the prediction game with an emphatic UNDER 8.5 RUNS.
There's nothing sexy about laying a little juice here, but too many signs point towards the D-backs, who just so happened to be the clear-cut better baseball team this year, finishing six games ahead of the Rockies and winning 11 of the 19 head-to-head matchups.
At the end of the day, this is one-game playoff baseball where anything can happen, but I like Arizona to get it done for the right to take on the Dodgers in the divisional series.
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