Bet MLB Playoffs: With a 2-0 postseason record, J.J. picks Ks for Luis Castillo, Sixto Sanchez, and Yu Darvish
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish, of Japan, throws the ball against the Chicago White Sox during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)Nam Y. Huh | Associated Press

Bet MLB Playoffs: With a 2-0 postseason record, J.J. picks Ks for Luis Castillo, Sixto Sanchez, and Yu Darvish

Where and when to watch: Cincinnati Reds vs Atlanta Braves, Noon on ESPN; Miami Marlins vs Chicago Cubs, 2 pm on ABC

Postseason Record: 2-0

We enter Thursday’s slate of games with 3 teams having already advanced. Today’s matchups kickoff at 12:00 ET, and there will be baseball throughout the entire day. The expanded field has led to a great stretch of baseball the past few days, from exciting upsets to huge comebacks and blown leads, making a strange first round very entertaining. Before we can continue our hot start in strikeout props this postseason, we have to look at today’s games. Let’s get into it.

Cincinnati Reds @ Atlanta Braves

SP: Luis Castillo – 89 Strikeouts in 70.0 IP

Note: The righty enters a must win game for the Reds after they wasted Bauer’s 12 strikeout masterpiece. That game ended up going into the 13th inning, leaving the Reds bullpen a little thin entering today’s noon matchup. Luckily, Castillo has thrown at least 89 pitches in all but one start this season, and should have no problem carrying the load today. In his last 7 starts, he has recorded 53 punchouts over 43.2 IP. Facing a Braves lineup that was 3rd overall in strikeouts this season, and given the results of last night’s game, David Bell is going to have to rely on Castillo to force a Game 3.

Pick: Over 6.5 Strikeouts (+100)

Miami Marlins @ Chicago Cubs

SP: Sixto Sanchez – 33 Strikeouts in 39.0 IP

Note: The 22-year-old righty is making just his 8th career appearance and has the chance to send the Marlins to the second round over the heavily favored Cubs. No pressure. In 5 games in which Sanchez has allowed fewer than 3 runs, he has fanned at least 4 batters in each of those games. However, in his last 2 starts, he has allowed 12 ER across 7 innings, registering only 2 strikeouts. Against a free-swinging Cubs team (5th in total strikeouts), I believe Sixto will have great success. In previous games against the Rays (1st in strikeouts) and Braves (3rd), he recorded 10 and 6 punchouts respectively. These young Marlins are playing without pressure, and I think it will show on the field again today.

Pick: Over 3.5 Strikeouts (-152)

SP: Yu Darvish – 93 Strikeouts in 76.0 IP

Note: While the Marlins are relaxed and confident, the Cubs have their backs against the wall. After a disappointing finish last season that led to the dismissal of Joe Maddon, the Cubs entered the year with high expectations. Now, they are facing an elimination game against a team that won 56 games in 2019. The Marlins are 10th in total strikeouts this year as a team, but asking Darvish to strikeout 9 against a hot team is too high of a number for my comfort. I think the Marlins pull off the upset, leaving little room for Darvish to hit the over this afternoon.

Pick: Under 8.5 Strikeouts (-143)

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