For Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers fans, Tuesday night's do-or-die NL Wild Card Game is something I would not wish on my worst enemy. From the opening pitch the tension will be turned up to 11, and the stress and anxiety that comes after will be enough to make you wonder if it was even worth making the playoffs in the first place. Even if your team wins, they get to play the L.A. Dodgers next. Fun!
But for degenerate gamblers, Tuesday night is one of the best nights on the sports calendar. After a grueling September that featured non-stop college and professional football and mostly meaningless baseball, we finally get something in the middle of the week to bridge the gap between Monday Night and Thursday Night football: postseason baseball. Thank you gambling gods.
While I'd love to make this game as stressful as it's will be for Brewers and Nats fans by betting on a side or a total, I think it's way more fun to have just a little bit of money on a bunch of different prop bets for this win-or-go-home tilt. I'd much rather be rooting for runs and strikeout totals than rooting for the Nats bullpen to hang on to a one-run lead in the ninth. Not interested in that kind of stress.
With that in mind, we plucked our five favorite prop bets from the DraftKings Sportsbook app for what should be an epic night in D.C.
First team to score
As big of a sucker bet the first team to score bet is, it does get you invested in the game right from the first pitch. And there's no better feeling than cashing a bet in the first or second inning. The initial thought here is "Max Scherzer is pitching for the Nats. No way the Brewers score first." But the Brewers counter with their "initial out-getter" (yes, that's actually what they call him) in Brandon Woodruff, who returned from injury in September and appeared twice, going two innings each time and giving up zero runs, zero hits and striking out seven. That is likely the plan for Woodruff again on Tuesday, while Scherzer will go as long as they let him. The first run in this game might not come until the third or fourth inning. I'll take the home team at -105 and hope leadoff hitter Trea Turner gets to first base in the first or third inning, wreaks havoc on the basepaths and crosses home first.
First team to 5 runs
Tie (no team to score 5) +145
In the last four NL Wild Card Games, only once has a team scored 5 runs, and it was both teams in 2017 when the Rockies and D-Backs exploded for 19 total runs. This game will not feature 19 runs, as it has 2-1 written all over it. The Brewers will throw every pitcher they have at the Nats while the Nats trot out Scherzer and then will likely turn to another one of their studs in Stephen Strasburg or Patrick Corbin. Scherzer struggled a bit toward the end of the season, but this is the type of game he'll be up for, and by up for I mean striking out everyone and shouting obscenities at himself. I'll take "tie" at plus odds for this one. Nobody is getting to 5 (famous last words).
Trea Turner total stolen bases
Over 0.5 +305
Under 0.5 -420
Here's the thing about this bet, if Turner gets on base, he's going to at least attempt to steal. Yes, Yasmani Grandal is an excellent defensive catcher (he caught 27 baserunners stealing in 2019, 2nd in the NL), but +305 odds for a guy who swiped 35 bags this season is hard to pass up. If this game is low-scoring like I think it will be, Turner is going to have to make something happen on the basepaths with his speed.
Max Scherzer total strikeouts
Over 9.5 +104
Under 9.5 -134
It speaks to how good Scherzer is that his strikeout over/under is almost 10, but I simply cannot bank on that happening in a game where he could get hooked at the first sign of trouble. He did strike out 10 and 11 in his last two outings, but he also gave up 12 hits and nine runs over those two games as well. Like I said before, I do think he'll rise to the occasion tonight and probably strike out seven or eight guys, but +104 are not juicy enough odds to hope for a double-digit strikeout output. Under it is.
Ryan Braun total runs batted in
Over 0.5 +148
Under 0.5 -177
We have to get in a Brewers bet at some point. Ryan Braun missed the final two games of the season with a calf strain, but he's expected to be in the lineup on Tuesday night, and before the injury he was just starting to get hot. In his last six games, the former MVP has gone 9-for-16 with two homers and nine RBIs. If the Brewers are going to win on the road, they'll need Braun to come up in a big spot, something he's done plenty of times before.