Baseball bettors wagering on moneylines and totals over the past four months may feel like their diet has been limited to peanut butter and jelly since the start of the MLB season. And, come August, you’d rather chow down on your own hand – or bet on MLS – than choke down another PB&J sandwich.
Even the most successful and disciplined sports handicappers crave variety during the dog days of summer. If the three-down action of the CFL or the unknown names of the Olympics just won’t cut it, here are some alternative MLB wagers to spice up your betting menu – all of which are Covers Experts approved.
Runlines and alternative runlines
Runlines are a nice way to mix up your MLB wagers in August and September. Baseball’s version of the pointspread generally hands the favorite a 1.5-run handicap and can tone down the chalk on a hefty moneyline favorite if you’re confident the team can win by two or more.
Covers Expert Bryan Power takes a close look at runline underdogs – teams getting 1.5 runs. While the payouts aren’t as great as moneyline underdogs, the chances of winning your wager are increased. Power has been setting his sights on the Houston Astros in recent games, noting that Houston was 4-0 on the runline in its previous four outings before Tuesday’s blowout loss to Milwaukee.
Many bettors are gravitating to alternative runlines – a flip-flopped version of the spread in which the moneyline underdog must cover the 1.5 runs. These wagers usually carry nice payouts and keep MLB bettors constantly looking for live dogs.
Those plus-money odds get even fatter during the final two months of the schedule, when teams are out of the playoff picture and taking on clubs with postseason aspirations. Covers Expert Sean Murphy likes to sometimes double up on underdogs priced as high as +150, wagering on both the moneyline and alternative runline.
“We tend to see some tremendous payouts with these plays, particularly at this time of year when favorites are often overpriced,” says Murphy.
For those new to MLB betting, the Grand Salami is not an oversized sausage or the leader of some underground deli cult. The Grand Salami is a combined over/under for every game on that day’s MLB board.
Not every sportsbook offers the massive total for each day’s baseball action, but it is a nice alternative especially if you see value in the over or the under depending on the pitching matchups, home plate umpires, weather or day of the week. There are many factors that can play into the final score tally, so playing within your limits is important.
“It's a fun thing to handicap. And not only can this be a high value play, depending on the ‘perfect storm’ of factors coming together, but it also keeps you interested in every game all day and all night long,” says a handicapper for Doc’s Sports. “Profitable and enjoyable – that's the type of bet I would be looking for this time of year.”
For baseball, so much of what makes up a moneyline depends on the starting pitchers. Every single MLB bettor has confidently placed a wager on a team with a stellar starter, only to watch that pitcher’s near-perfect game get spoiled by a shoddy bullpen in the late innings.
The majority of sportsbooks offer adjusted prices on teams and totals over the first five innings of action, taking the relievers and substitutions out of the equation, for the most part. Totals can range anywhere from three to six runs, depending on who’s pitching.
Covers Expert Matt Fargo looks for pitchers being limited by a strict pitch count down the home stretch of the schedule and wagers on their five-inning odds.
“It is important to try and find information that managers may give out in terms of how long he plans to let his starter go, whether it may be innings tossed or number of pitches thrown,” says Fargo.
Not sure one team will hold up its end of the bargain when wagering on the over/under? Leave that team out of it and wager on just one side’s total.
Some books offer this alternative over/under wager, giving you a chance to wager on a team when you have a good idea of their pitching and offense for the day but aren’t sure what the opponent is bringing to the table.
“I played the over the team total for the Giants' opponents early on in the season when (Tim Lincecum) was getting knocked around quite a bit,” says handicapper Doc Moseman of Doc’s Sports. “I like the Giants as a team, but knew that he would give up more than his share of runs.”