Baseball is here, firing the starting gun on what is a marathon for bettors that stretches the spring, summer and fall. The MLB season is filled with peaks and valleys, however, if those valleys come too soon into the schedule, you won’t even have a shot at hitting those peaks.
Navigating the early baseball schedule is one of the toughest tasks for sports bettors, and in order to help you survive April and May we’ve asked some of Covers Experts’ sharpest MLB handicappers to share their best tips for betting early-season baseball:
Sean Murphy – “Don't get caught playing big favorites on a nightly basis. Even the best teams lose close to 40 percent of their games. It's a major cliche, but the MLB season is a marathon - not a sprint. Try to grind out profits by playing undervalued underdogs and you'll find the 162-game grind far more enjoyable.”
Teddy Covers – “Believe what you see, not what you read. Remember last year when the Los Angeles Angels came into the season with more hype than any team in baseball, getting accolades from just about every baseball writer and TV talking head in the country? Then remember how the Angels went 9-17 in April, losing 11 of those games as a favorite? This seems to happen with at least one or two 'hyped' teams every year. Ignore the hype and concentrate on what you are actually seeing on the field.”
Marc Lawrence – “Among my early baseball betting strategies is charting pitchers form coming out of Spring Training. While the effort in spring isn't a true barometer of a pitcher's ability, it often points to those who are sharp and those who are not. Pitchers with WHIPS at or below 1.00 tend to be around the plate. Those with WHIPS at or above 1.80 are not. Couple the good WHIPS with commanding K/W's and you generally have an arm you can rely on. On the flip side, those with lousy WHIPS and bad K/W's are early fade material. As an example, San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner: 0.75 WHIP; two walks, 22 strikeouts. Tampa Bays' Matt Moore: 1.95 WHIP; 15 walks, 14 strikeouts.
Nick Parsons – “Be patient. Wait for teams to go through the rotation once. Even in that small amount of time, you can glean a lot of information - not only about the starters, but also the pen, the closers and the team itself. MLB gamblers should wait a week and a half before making any serious bets.”
Ben Burns – “Some handicappers ignore spring training entirely. Not me. In fact, I spent last spring in the Clearwater/Tampa area taking in Grapefruit League action and this spring in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area, checking out the Cactus League. I pay particular attention to starting pitchers that have shown improvement throughout the spring and who are coming off a strong outing in their final tuneup.”
Steve Merril – “When handicapping the first few weeks of the MLB season, pay attention to how the starting pitchers performed in Spring Training. Players that struggled often have it carry over into the start of the regular season. Many times it is a player who is out of shape or maybe recovering from an injury or just hasn't gotten rid of the offseason rust. Regardless of the reason, be careful of backing a struggling player, especially a starting pitcher, until you see them turn things around in regular games.”
Jesse Schule – “I find that often one of the most important stats in handicapping baseball games is a pitcher's numbers in day and night. There are so many examples of Major League pitchers that are Jekyll-and-Hyde depending on the time of day. I think this is often overlooked, and I recommend paying close attention to these stats.”
Doc’s Sports – “One of the keys to betting early season baseball is to be very cautious and wait for only the best opportunities. It can be difficult to get a good read on each team early on, but if you can find the teams that seem to be swinging a hot bat or who have a starting pitcher in a nice early groove, then you’re ahead of the game. There aren't a ton of these situations in the first few weeks, so it's important to be patient and only get your money in when it makes sense. No one wants to start the baseball season in a huge hole by the end of April. It's a long season and there will be plenty of chances to find good bets throughout. Be patient and pay close attention to which teams seem to be in mid-season form early on.”
Will Rogers – “There are so many statistics and numbers available, and I feel it's my job to examine all possible trends and stats, separating which are the most relevant. One example I can give you would be Roy Halladay last year. He's one of the better pitchers of his generation, so he would have impressive stats in several categories: win/loss, ERA, WHIP, batter-versus-pitcher, etc. The most important stat last season, though, was the velocity of his fastball, or lack thereof.”