Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow

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The 2020 MLB playoffs are set to kick off on Tuesday, and there's no question they'll be unlike any other baseball postseason we have ever seen before.

After allowing five teams from each league into the playoffs since 2012, MLB added three more teams to the postseason from each league this year. Now instead of the three division winners and two wild card teams making the playoffs, the first and second place teams from each division will make the playoffs, along with two wild card teams. It remains to be seen if the playoff expansion will remain in place next season, but it sure did add plenty of excitement to the shortened baseball regular season.


Houston Astros v. Minnesota Twins

The start of the 2020 MLB playoffs will see the defending American League champions heading to Minneapolis to take on the AL Central champions. The Astros were rocked by a cheating scandal during the offseason, which put a damper on their season even before it began. Then a season-ending injury to ace Justin Verlander left the Astros scrambling to fill out their rotation, which was already depleted by the loss of Gerrit Cole to the New York Yankees in free agency. Zack Greinke has the name recognition at the top of Houston's pitching staff, but Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier have filled some of the void after Greinke in the rotation.

The Houston lineup has been just as much of a work-in-progress as the pitching staff. Michael Brantley, Kyle Tucker. and George Springer have done most of the heavy lifting throughout the season while Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman combined for just 16 home runs and 65 RBIs this year.

Minnesota has to be elated to not be playing the New York Yankees in the playoffs, for once. Prior to this year's playoffs, the Twins had met the Yankees in their four previous playoff appearances, failing to win a game against New York during that span. Minnesota had one of the most potent offenses in baseball, with four players mashing at least 13 home runs this year. Nelson Cruz was the leader of the Twins offense, clubbing 16 homers, while Eddie Rosario drove in a team-high 42 runs this year.

The pitching staff of the Twins has a tremendous mixture of young talent and veteran experience. Kenta Maeda came to Minnesota from the Los Angeles Dodgers, putting together a 6-1 season where he struck out 80 batters in 66.2 innings pitched. Jose Berrios takes the ball after Maeda, and when Berrios is on, he is one of the best pitchers in the game. Michael Pineda was good in limited action this year, and we will likely see Randy Dobnak as some point in this series, as the rookie was 6-4 in his first season in the majors.

Something has been off with the Astros this year. A lot of it has to do with the cheating scandal and some of the repercussions that has come out of it, but Houston isn't as feared as they were the last few years. Minnesota was 24-7 at home this year so the Astros will have to be perfect to upset the Twins. I'm not seeing it happening. The Twins makes the most of not having to play the Yankees to start the playoffs. Minnesota in 2 games.

Chicago White Sox v. Oakland Athletics

This matchup pits power against small ball. The Chicago White Sox clinched their first playoff spot since 2008, using a lineup that ranked third in baseball with 96 home runs. First baseman Jose Abreu inserted himself in the AL MVP race by crushing 19 homers and driving in 60 runs this year. Abreu's 148 total bases led the White Sox this year. Four other Chicago players hit at least 10 home runs during the season.

Along with the potent offense, Chicago also has two of the best pitchers in the game. Lucas Giolito is the ace of the White Sox. Giolito not only threw the first no-hitter in baseball this year, but he struck out 97 batters in 72.1 innings. Complimenting Giolito is Dallas Keuchel, who signed with the White Sox after spending last year with the Atlanta Braves. Keuchel might not have the power of Giolito, but he is just as tough to get a handle on, as he posted a 1.99 ERA this year.

Oakland cruised to the AL West crown this year, finishing the regular season seven games ahead of the Houston Astros. The Athletics come into the playoffs with a little bit of doubt, though. Oakland took a hit earlier this month when it was announced that third baseman Matt Chapman would miss the remainder of the season due to hip surgery, leaving a giant hole at the hot corner for the Athletics. Another Matt has been trying to pick up the slack, as Matt Olson hit a team-high 14 home runs this year, but the first baseman wasn't consistent at the plate, hitting just .195. As a team, Oakland had the fifth-worst batting average in baseball, hitting .225 this season.

The best pitcher for Oakland this year has been Chris Bassitt, who is 5-2 with a 2.29 ERA. Things get a little complicated after Bassitt. Mike Fiers has playoff experience, but hasn't been consistent this year. Jesus Luzardo is the wild card of the pitching staff. The rookie pitcher has electric stuff, but is he ready for the spotlight that comes with the playoffs?

The White Sox struggled down the stretch, losing 9 of their last 12 games. Even with those struggles, it's going to be tough for Oakland to beat both Giolito and Keuchel. The teams split the first two games, and the White Sox have a little too much power for Oakland to handle in the elimination game. Chicago in 3 games.

Toronto Blue Jays v. Tampa Bay Rays

What a wild season it has been for the Toronto Blue Jas. First, the Blue Jays found out they couldn't play in Toronto this year, forcing the Blue Jays to play their home games in Buffalo. Toronto also had to deal with the future of their franchise going through a bit of a sophomore slump. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit .262 with 9 home runs and 33 RBIs this year, but the son of former star Vladimir Guerrero had bigger expectations for this season.

At least the Blue Jays did get Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio to pick up some of the slack. Bo Bichette hit .301 in 29 games this year, while Biggio clocked 16 doubles this year. Even with what Bichette and Biggio were able to do, who would've though Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez would be the ones leading the Toronto offense? Gurriel hit .308, while Hernandez led the team with 16 home runs.

On the mound, Toronto has Hyun-Jin Ryu and a lot of questions after. Ryu was 5-2 with 72 strikeouts this year, his first season with the club after leaving the Los Angeles Dodgers during free agency. The Blue Jays haven't found anyone to step up in the rotation after Ryu. Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson have both posted ERAs north of 6.75 during the regular season.

Tampa Bay is almost the polar opposite of Toronto. All pitching and a little bit of hitting. Brandon Lowe provided the ower for the Rays, hitting 14 home runs this year, but he was the only Tampa Bay batter to reach double digits in home runs. Willy Adames, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, and Hunter Renfroe provided some pop during the regular season, but it remains to be seen if they can provide enough when the pressure is turned up in the playoffs.

It's hard to find a better three-man rotation in baseball than what Tampa Bay has to offer. Tyler Glasnow is a strikeout machine, Blake Snell is a former Cy Young Award winner, and Charlie Morton is a veteran who has postseason experience. The Blue Jays might be able to steal a game in this series, but it's hard to see them beating the American League's top-seed twice in a three-game series. Tampa Bay in 3 games.

New York Yankees v. Cleveland Indians

The New York Yankees had higher expectations for this season, but injuries again threw a wrench into the plans of the Yankees. Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Gleyber Torres all missed time due to injuries this year, while on the mound James Paxton won't be available for this series, and might be lost for the rest of the postseason. Even with the injuries, the Yankees are still a dangerous team.

DJ LeMahieu could make a case for the AL MVP award, as without LeMahieu's presence in the lineup, New York might have not made the playoffs this year. LeMahieu hit .364 this year, and amassed 115 total bases, which ranked second on the Yankees behind Luke Voit, who has been just as important as LeMahieu. Voit crushed a league-leading 22 homers this year. With Judge and Stanton back healthy, their lineup is one of the most feared in baseball.

If the Yankees could, they'd probably start Gerrit Cole in every game of this series. Cole has been phenomenal in his first season in pinstripes, going 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA and 94 strikeouts. Masahiro Tanaka has been his usual steady self during the regular season, and he always seems to perform even better in the playoffs. If the Yankees can get a lead late in the game, they do have the luxury of turning to Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman.

While DJ LeMahieu has a case for the AL MVP, there award is likely going to Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez, who played out of his mind this year. Ramirez smacked 17 homers, drove in 46 runs, and swiped 10 bases. Had it not been for Ramirez, Cleveland likely would be on the outside looking in at the playoffs right now. If Cleveland wants to make a deep run in the playoffs, Ramirez is going to need some help, though. A prime candidate to provide some support to Ramirez is Francisco Lindor, who could set the table for a big contract splash in 2022 with a strong postseason this year.

Much like the Yankees, Cleveland has a stud at starting pitcher, followed by a solid starter. Shane Bieber is likely your AL Cy Young winner after going 8-1 with a 1.63 ERA and 122 strikeouts this year. After Bieber, Carlos Carrasco is one of the strongest second-starting options in baseball. Zach Plesac rounds out a rotation that took a hit earlier this year when the Indians traded Mike Clevinger to the San Diego Padres. Brad Hand and James Karinchak give Cleveland a strong back-end of the bullpen, much like you see from the Yankees.

This series is going to depend on who can take the first game of the series. Shane Bieber has been amazing for Cleveland this year, but is he ready for the bright lights of the playoffs? We know Gerrit Cole is ready. The Yankees get to Bieber in the first game, and the Indians win the next game to setup an elimination game which the Yankees squeak out to move on to the next round. New York in 3 games.

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Tom Pennington, Getty Images

In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Bam Adebayo's 31-point and 10-rebound double-double led the Miami Heat to a 109-103 victory over the Celtics on the road. That was followed by a dominant second-half performance by Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins who led the Warriors to a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.

Tonight, we'll get the first of these two matchups. Boston will look to come back in their second home game against a Heat team that is clearly not at 100% healthy. Tyler Herro has been ruled out for Game 4 while Kyle Lowry remains questionable. Here are some of the best bets for tonight's and tomorrow's big Game 4s.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 3:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

ECF Game 4: Miami Heat at Boston Celtics -7 (MIA Leads 2-1)

In Game 4, the Celtics rallied back from double-digits to make things interesting in the fourth quarter. However, Boston conceded Game 3 to the Miami Heat 109-103. On Sunday, Bam Adebayo was getting everything he wanted down low. He finished with 31 points, 10 boards, six assists, four steals, and one block. Ime Udoka will need to boost the presence of his big men down low, perhaps by extending Daniel Theis’ minutes or having him share the floor more with Al Horford. The major reason for which the Heat are considered the seven-point underdogs for tonight’s game is injuries. Tyler Herro has already been ruled out for Game 4, and the Heat have four or five other players in their lineup currently listed as questionable. This includes Max Struss, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, and P.J. Tucker. Butler is dealing with knee inflammation which sidelined him for the second half of Game 3.

Even if all of the players in the Heat’s rotation are good to go tonight (outside of Herro), Boston has not lost back-to-back home games since late October. Plus, Jaylen Brown is shooting much better than he did earlier in the postseason. In fact, he’s elevated his shooting to 50% from the field through the 2021-22 playoffs through 14 games played. Expect Boston to bounce back big in Game 4, with multiple players on the Miami Heat not at full strength.

The Pick: Boston Celtics -7 (-110)

WCF Game 4: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Well, it’s looking like the Golden State Warriors are returning to the NBA Finals. With the emergence of Jordan Poole late this season and into the postseason, Andrew Wiggins’ First-Team All-Star season, and Klay Thompson’s return to basketball, Golden State has been simply phenomenal. Golden State is simply that good this year, with anyone on the team capable of stepping up. Stephen Curry erupted in Game 3, while it was Andrew Wiggins that caught fire in the second half of Game 4. Any given night, the Warriors have one or two guys who they can count on for scoring approximately 25+ points. Considering the Mavericks' struggles this round, particularly behind the three-point line, bettors should go with the Warriors as the slight underdog. Teams get swept sometimes. Just ask the Brooklyn Nets. The Warriors will bring out the brooms and sweep the Mavericks as they punch their ticket to the NBA Finals Tuesday night.

The Pick: Golden State Warriors ML -104

NBA Player Props

Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Prop #1: Stephen Curry, Over 27.5 Points

Stephen Curry has scored 31 points and 32 points over the last two games. He’s done so by converting at least 50% from the field in each contest. It makes sense that he would score at least 28 points in a series-clinching victory tomorrow night. Curry is averaging 27.1 PPG on 45.9% this postseason but has certainly put up more points and done so more efficiently over the last few games.

Prop #2: Luka Doncic, Over 3.5 Threes

Luka has drained nine three-pointers over the last two games. He’s knocked down at least four threes in three of his last four contests. Facing elimination and hoping to not let down the home crowd in back-to-back home playoff games, Doncic will convert at least four baskets from downtown in Game 4.

Tyler Herro (Left), Bam Adebayo (Right), Miami Heat

Getty Images

Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and the Miami Heat held their own against the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Likewise, Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a 112-87 blowout over Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Tonight, the Celtics play their second game on the road against the Heat. On Friday night, the Mavericks will look to bounce back after shooting horrifically in Game 1.

Let’s take a look at the best bets for the two NBA Conference Final Game 2 matchups set for 8:30 PM EST. tonight and 9:00 PM EST. tomorrow night.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 4:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

After a nail-biting series with the Milwaukee Bucks that the Celtics won in grandiose fashion, Boston conceded Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. Tonight, they play Game 2 of the series at the FTX Arena and hope to bounce back from Tuesday’s 11-point loss. One of the principal reasons for their defeat in Game 1 was the absence of Marcus Smart (foot sprain) and Al Horford (health & safety protocols). It remained a relatively close game until the third quarter in which the Celtics were outscored 14-3 to begin the second half. Derrick White filled in for Marcus Smart and was terribly inefficient from the field. He scored three points (1-4 FG) and had four assists in 29 minutes filling in for the Defensive Player of the Year. In contrast, Max Struss and Gabe Vincent did a terrific job of filling in for Kyle Lowry, combining for 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting. In addition, Tyler Herro had a good night with a pivotal 18 points (7-15 FG) off the bench. Fortunately for the Celtics, both Smart and Horford are expected to return tonight.

Head Coach Ime Udoka indicated to reporters today that Smart was probable to play this evening. Horford was cleared of health and safety protocols today making him available for tonight’s contest. For those of you who have watched the Celtics this postseason, Horford and Smart have upped their play and have been absolutely integral to the team’s success. Tonight, let’s take the Boston Celtics to take a game on the road in the same fashion that they took two road games from the Bucks in the last series.

The Pick: Boston Celtics ML +108

Tonight's Best NBA Player Props

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

Prop#1: Gabe Vincent Over 9.5 Points
In Game 1 without Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent scored 17 points in 34 minutes on 50% shooting from the field. As Kyle Lowry is out again for Game 2 tonight, expect Vincent to score at least 10 points. Vincent has performed admirably while filling in for the veteran. Even when Lowry returns, it's quite possible that Erik Spoelstra will give some of Lowry's minutes to Vincent.
Prop#2: Al Horford Over 9.5 Points
After five straight double-digit scoring performances, Al Horford scored eight points or fewer in the last three games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Bucks. He missed Game 1 of the Celtics' series against the Miami Heat after entering Health & Safety protocols. Since he was only out for one game, he shouldn't face any minute restrictions tonight. Horford should score at least 10 points in 30+ minutes on the floor.

Tomorrow Night's Best NBA Bet

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State -6 (GSW Leads 1-0)

Dallas was annihilated by Golden State in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. This comes after the Mavs blew out the Phoenix Suns on the road in impressive fashion, punching their ticket to the next round of the playoffs for a series against the Warriors. Golden State shot an impressive 56.1% from the field in the opening game and finished with 112 points. Just as important as the offensive production, Golden State clamped down on defense. The Warriors contained Luka Doncic, who converted just six of his 18 field goals on his way to 20 points. Andrew Wiggins did an excellent job guarding the young playmaker. Luka's teammates didn't help out much either as the Mavericks shot 36% from the field in Game 1, and 22.9% from downtown (11-48 3PT FG) for just 87 points on the night.

While I think the Warriors will win again on Friday night, expect the Mavericks to keep things more interesting after such an abysmal night shooting from the field. Dallas will make the adjustments needed to make this a competitive Game 2 in the Bay area.

The Pick: Dallas Mavericks +6 (-110)

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Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

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Klay Thompson is coming off one of his signature Game 6 performances. Thompson dropped his second-highest point total of the postseason, punching Golden State's ticket to the Western Conference Finals after defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in six games. In the elimination game, Thompson led the team with 30 points (11-22 from the field and 8-14 from beyond the arc), eight boards, two assists, and three blocks. Considering the multitude of injuries he has fought back from and the adversity he has faced, it's quite amazing that the five-time All-Star has converted at least 50% of his three-point shots in three of his last four outings. He seems to be in great form entering this pivotal series with the Mavericks.

Dallas stunned the top-seeded Phoenix Suns and reigning Western Conference champs on the road in Game 7, 123-90, and earned a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Let's see if Thompson can remain scorching hot as Stephen Curry and the Dubs host Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals tonight. Now, let's take a look at some of the best bets and player props to consider for tonight’s big matchup!

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 3:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Bet #1: Golden State Warriors -5 (-110)

Following a tough loss in Game 5 to the Grizzlies despite Ja Morant’s absence from the lineup, the Warriors bounced back and closed the series at home in Game 6. They take on the Dallas Mavericks, who’ve been absolutely unbelievable on defense. Changes made to the Mavs’ rotation by Jason Kidd worked flawlessly against Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and the Suns in the previous round. One surprise for Dallas this postseason has been former New York Knicks lottery pick, Frank Ntilikina. He's a player who has stepped up immensely this postseason, especially on defense. Throughout the series, Ntilikina held Chris Paul and Devin Booker to a combined 3-of-40 shooting from the field when he guarded them.

It will be interesting to see if Jason Kidd keeps his minutes up, or perhaps increases them after what was truly an astonishing defensive performance against the Suns. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, the Golden State Warriors have four efficient scorers who will need to be contained. The Warriors will cover the spread tonight and win by more than five points on their home floor.

Bet #2: Over 214.5 Total Points (-110)

Dallas scored an impressive 123 points in Game 7, and they did so on the road. I expect them to reach at least 110 points in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors shot on and off throughout their series against the Memphis Grizzlies. Nonetheless, they averaged 111 PPG in their series against Memphis (666 total points scored by the Warriors over six games). Both teams play a style of basketball that stresses ball movement to find an open man beyond the arc. When Dallas or Golden State shoot 40%-45% from the field, they can score in the hundreds because of the high volume of shots they take. Dallas started taking more shots and playing at a faster pace in the second half of their series against Phoenix. By the half in Game 7, Dallas was up 57-27. In the game, the Mavericks went 19-of-39 from downtown (48.9%). Even more impressive was Dallas’ 56.8% shooting from the field. Although the Warriors are one of the best defensive teams in the league, a 214.5-point Over / Under for tonight’s game is quite low. Smash the Over.

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NBA Player Props of the Night

Prop #1: Jordan Poole Over 1.5 Threes (-174)

Jordan Poole has finally cooled down after a stretch of three 20-point games against the Grizzlies. Over the last three contests, Poole has only hit two or more three-pointers in one contest. Over those last three games, he shot a combined 3-of-17 from downtown. While Poole has been highly inefficient over the last few games, he’ll hit at least two three-pointers in Game 1 tonight. The odds of this prop reflect how likely it is to happen. Although Poole isn't seeing as high a usage rate as when Curry and Thompson were injured during the regular season, Poole should still see plenty of open looks in the 25+ minutes he should log tonight. Given that Dallas will most likely try to stop Curry and Thompson from beating them, Poole should see a few wide-open looks. He will knock down at least two from deep range tonight.

Prop #2: Klay Thompson Over 20.5 Points (-112)

Klay Thompson has averaged just about 20.5 points since he came back this regular season. Throughout the postseason, he’s played strong and for the most part, been efficient from the field. Through 11 games in this postseason, Thompson is averaging 20.4 PPG on 45% shooting from the field. I like him to hit the over here in his first Western Conference Final matchup in three years. After getting his swagger back and dropping 30 points to eliminate the Grizzlies last round, Thompson should have all. the confidence in the world heading into Game 1 in the bay.

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