Whoever coined the phrase "close but no cigar" obviously had never heard of MLB runline betting.
There are a lot of the teams at the top of the standings who haven’t generated much of a runline return for their supporters, thanks to the chalk they see day in and day out.
Then there are the clubs that end up on the wrong end of the outright decision a lot, but keep the score close enough most days and throw in the odd blowout win to have their bettors lighting victory cigars with crisp Benjamins, straight from the betting window.
Here are two of those teams, though you might want to tread carefully with them for the next little while. Stats current through Friday’s action and check out our full runline standings here. Chicago White Sox: 36-34 outright
42-28 on the runline yielding 19.30 units
The White Sox went into Friday’s game against Milwaukee in a bit of a tailspin. After riding a surge to take the AL Central lead, they dropped six of their last eight and sat a half game back of the division-leading Cleveland Indians.
Offense has been the main issue during the skid. Chicago averages 4.61 runs per game (seventh in the bigs) but was held to three or fewer runs six times since beating St. Louis 6-1 back on June 12. The White Sox are also four games below .500 in their own park.
“You go through ups and downs,’’ second baseman Gordon Beckham told reporters. “When you’re cold, you have to grind it out and be warm enough to help the team win. We’ve had some guys who at the wrong time aren’t clicking. We don’t have one guy that’s tearing it up right now.’’Toronto Blue Jays: 37-34 outright
41-30 on the runline yielding 13.50 units
Toronto had managed to put together four wins in its last six ahead of Friday’s date with the Marlins despite major concerns with the club’s pitching staff. At this point, the club doesn’t have much of an idea who its fourth and fifth starters are after Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil and Henderson Alvarez.
That had some people wondering if Toronto manager John Farrell might make like the Colorado Rockies and at least give a four-man rotation a try.
"I can see where that can make a lot of sense," Farrell told reporters. "We haven't decided to go that route yet. We'll stay with the traditional five-man rotation because we feel like with off days, our starters are going to need that extra day at given points.”
Those starters are also going to need the bats to keep booming if Jays runline bettors have a hope moving forward. Toronto ranks third in the bigs averaging 4.97 runs per game and sits second with 104 homers.