Morning Coffee: Blue Jays an underdog versus Twins in AL wild-card series
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for baseball fans.
October is here, and the 2023 MLB postseason bracket is officially set.
The road to the World Series begins with four wild-card series openers beginning this afternoon.
All three games of each series will take place at the higher seed’s stadium.
All four home teams are the favourite to win their respective Game 1s at FanDuel.
How important is a Game 1 win?
In the previous two editions of this format in 2020 and 2022, the team that won Game 1 went on to win the series 83 per cent of the time. Nine of the 10 teams that won Game 1 in those years went on to sweep their series.
During the 2023 MLB regular season, the team that won the opening game of a three-game series went on to win the series 76 per cent of the time.
All eight wild-card teams understand the stakes.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of a Game 1 win.
This is the Morning Coffee for Tuesday Oct. 3, 2023.
Blue Jays an underdog versus Twins
Six months after the first pitch of the 2023 regular season, not much has changed at the top of the World Series futures market.
There’s one notable exception.
The Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Houston Astros remain the top three choices to win it all.
The Baltimore Orioles have been the biggest surprise of the season.
The Orioles, which were 100-to-1 to win the World Series when the season started, are down to +650 as the fourth choice to win it all at FanDuel. They’ll open the postseason with a bye.
Meanwhile, Baltimore isn’t the only pre-season long shot to qualify for the postseason.
The Miami Marlins were also 100-to-1 to win the World Series when the season started. The Marlins are the biggest long shot to win it all entering the postseason, but at 40-to-1 odds.
Miami is +160 to get past the Philadelphia Phillies in the wild-card Round.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were 120-to-1 to win the World Series back in April.
The Diamondbacks are 35-to-1 to win it all at FanDuel this morning. Arizona is +126 to advance past the wild-card round with a series win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Braves and Dodgers are the only NL teams with shorter than 7-to-1 odds to reach the World Series. Both teams will get a few days off before the NLDS.
While the Astros remain the favourite to win the AL pennant, all six AL teams that qualified for the playoffs have shorter than 10-to-1 odds to reach the World Series at FanDuel this morning.
The Minnesota Twins are 7-to-1 to win the AL pennant. The Toronto Blue Jays are 8-to-1 to win the AL pennant.
While all 12 teams that qualified will feel the pressure that comes with October baseball, the Twins and Blue Jays both enter the postseason with some notable postseason droughts hanging over their respective franchises.
The Blue Jays have lost eight of their past nine postseason games dating back to the 2016 ALCS, including their collapse against the Seattle Mariners in last year’s wild-card series.
Toronto led Seattle 8-1 entering the sixth inning of Game 2 and somehow went on to lose 10-9.
It was the first time in MLB history that a team has rallied from a seven-run deficit to win on the road in the postseason.
This time around, the Blue Jays will be the road team.
The team they are playing in the wild-card round hasn’t won a playoff game in 6,937 days.
Minnesota has lost 18 consecutive postseason games - the longest postseason losing streak in MLB history. In fact, no team in MLB, NFL, NHL, or NBA history has lost 18 straight playoff games.
The Twins are looking for their first playoff series win since 2004.
Every other MLB team has won a playoff game since Minnesota’s last postseason win in the 2004 ALDS. Will the Twins finally end their playoff drought this afternoon?
Minnesota is currently a -116 money line favourite for Game 1 at FanDuel. Toronto is -102 to win the opener.
The Twins are -134 to win the series. The Blue Jays are +110 to advance at FanDuel.
Toronto was swept in both the 2020 and 2022 wild-card rounds, so it isn’t as if the pressure of an extended postseason drought is squarely on Minnesota.
I lean towards the Blue Jays to win tonight and to win the series.
Ultimately, no one will be surprised if the winner of Game 1 goes on to win the series. In fact, recent historical trends indicate that we should clearly expect it.