Ah, October. The crispness in the air is only matched by the sports bet odds and crack of the bat. The Major League Baseball postseason rolls into the league championship series, which will determine which American and National League clubs will battle for the World Series.
Playoff baseball is a different beast than regular season ball, especially if you’re handicapping the MLB betting odds. There’s a sense of urgency with every pitch and with only two series on the go, the moneylines and totals lines are drum tight.
Here are some tips to help you rock October baseball at your sportsbook:
Keeping track of innings
Innings worked are always on the minds of MLB managers, especially in the final month of the regular season. They want their top starters and most reliable relievers rested and ready for action in October. In a best-of-five divisional round, managers will do anything they can to get that win and advance, including pushing relievers past their comfort zones in terms of pitch count. This can be compounded as a series goes on, leaving the bullpen drained at the wrong times.
Baseball bettors should look at the pitching staff’s overall work in the previous series and where they could run into trouble. Split right handers and left handers up and match that against their current opponent.
A team may have a solid corp of southpaws to pull from the bullpen against a team that struggles to hit lefties. However, if those left-handed pitchers were overworked in the previous series, they could get lit up in the championship round.
Handicapping umpires is one of the most undervalued processes when it comes to betting baseball in the regular season or playoffs. No other sport is as dictated by its officials than baseball, more specifically the home plate umpire and how he calls balls and strikes.
Playoff contenders are usually marching their top starters out for the postseason games, which means some elite-level arms that can paint the corners and keep batters guessing. Put that against an ump with a small strike zone, and the starters could have a tough time picking up Ks and therefor walk more batters than usual. If they run into a home plate ump with the liberal strike zone, they’ll have the advantage over the bats and keep runners off the bases.
October is the major change in season from the warmth of summer to the brisk temperatures of autumn. That means there’s a good chance of rain, wind and cold by the time the World Series wraps up. Monitoring the forecast for MLB playoff games can help you find an edge in the odds.
In spots like Wrigley Field, the direction of the wind often dictates the size of the betting total, with gusts blowing in from center field helping pitchers keep pop flys in the park and strong winds blowing out from home plate pushing would-be warning-track shots over the fence.
Cold can also impact teams, especially those from warmer climates. A West Coast team used to a mild October could feel the freeze of the cold fall nights on the East Coast, not only impacting their performance on the mound, but also at the plate.
Postseason baseball games are tailor made for live in-game wagering. With plenty of commercial breaks and pitching changes, bettors have time to get in on the action no matter the inning. Bettors watching the game live or on TV can sense shifts in the momentum during these close contests, and get down a wager before crucial points in the game.
And if you already have some pregame wagers in place, more specifically on the total runs, you can often find opportunities to middle or hedge your original wagers in high or low-scoring games.