Tom Gable, Director of Race & Sports at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, provides our readers with insider tips and strategies for making the most of their sports betting ventures. This month, Tom focuses on how the MLB’s shorter season and newly implemented rules can affect bettors’ wagers.
Last week, we looked at how Major League Baseball’s adjusted structure affects the handicapping of season-long future wagers. This week we are going to examine how some of those changes affect the daily game wagering.
Let’s start with the condensed schedule. With only playing 60 games, there is added importance on every game. Teams will still have to rest day-to-day players, but don’t count on starters missing too many games. The National League has decided to adopt the “designated hitter” this year, just as the American League has in place, which means pitchers won’t have to hit. Traditionally, pitchers are often weak hitters and are almost sure to make an out. Without them in the batting line-up, you would think that more offense would be forthcoming. One wager you can make on a baseball game is the amount of total runs scored in a game. A sportsbook will post a number for total runs scored for a particular game and you can bet if you believe there will be more or less runs scored than that number. But the other thing to consider, at least in the early-season games, is the layoff time between spring training and the season starting. Hitters will take some time to readjust to live pitching and we have seen many games go “under” the run total early in the season.
Starting pitchers are the most important players when it comes to betting baseball games. Oddsmakers make their lines based on who the starting pitchers are for a particular game. If you find a team that has consistently had good starting pitching and may have conversely had some struggles offensively, this is a team to look at betting the “under” on. The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cleveland Indians were too really good examples of this during the first two weeks of the season. If you had consistently bet the “unders” in their games, you would have made a nice profit for yourself. A series of local interest is coming up this weekend between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies which features two teams that have been rather inconsistent in the early going. If you are thinking about wagering on any of the games in this series, take a close look at who the starting pitchers are, as Jacob DeGrom has continued to be fantastic for the Mets and hasn’t allowed more than 2 runs in any of his starts yet this year (look at taking the “under” when he pitches). For the Phillies, Aaron Nola has seemed to recapture some form after an initial poor start and has only allowed run one in each of his last two starts (again, look at taking the “under” when he pitches).
There are other rule changes for this season to keep in mind that will also affect total runs scored in games. One is the extra-inning rule where a team will start extra innings with an automatic runner on second base. This rule was instituted to allow extra inning games to reach their conclusion faster, but it can also drive up the total runs scored in a game. If you are wagering in-game, this is important to keep in mind when looking at games that are tied in the later innings.
Additionally, don’t forget that all double-header games will only be 7 innings in length, instead of 9 innings per the MLB. Make sure you do your research before you place that wager! Starting pitchers are even more important in the 7 inning games.