Braves and Rangers are favored in Wild Card playoff games

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I’d never recommend using betting lines for actual betting, but the Las Vegas odds do provide a clear picture of which teams are the favorites and which teams are the underdogs. And that can be valuable come playoff time, when every player on every team loves to say stuff like “no one thought we would win” and “we shocked the world” and all that.

For tonight’s Wild Card playoff games both home teams are favored, and by sizable margins.

Kris Medlen and the Braves are -170 favorites over Kyle Lohse and the Cardinals, which means you’d have to risk $170 to win $100 and Atlanta must win at least 63 percent of the time for that to be a profitable bet.

Yu Darvish and the Rangers are -190 favorites over Joe Saunders and the Orioles, which means you’d have to risk $190 to win $100 and Texas must win at least 66 percent of the time for that to be a profitable bet.

Now, those aren’t huge favorites because during the regular season there are regularly teams with -250 or even -275 lines and sometimes it goes as high as -300, but the Braves and Rangers are definitely expected to win tonight.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves