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:
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."
Matt Fargo - "Being an underdog bettor in baseball to begin with, I think this is the best time to win with underdogs. Early in the season, moneylines are based on expectations and nothing else as there are no season stats to go off of. Granted some of the expectations will hold true early on but there are plenty of opportunities to win some significant underdog bets. The public goes after the favorites that they have heard are going to have successful seasons but those predictions do not always hold true."
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."
AAA Sports - "It's important to note how pitchers progressed throughout the preseason when betting on early regular season MLB. Just because a hurler dominated last season, doesn't mean that they'll automatically be on top of their game, so until they work themselves back into shape, often going against these over-priced pitchers can be very profitable at the start of the season. And if an "under the radar" starter comes into the regular season after a red-hot spring training, you can also find early value in those types of situations as well."
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.”
Editor's note: This article was originally posted in April 2015.