How to beat the odds and turn a profit with your MLB playoffs bets this October

The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers have terrific hitters at the top of their lineup but how productive they are from batting positions six through nine could determine their playoff success.

Last Updated: Oct 1, 2019 12:27 AM ET
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Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

It’s October which means postseason baseball. If you’re betting on the MLB playoffs, here are some simple tips and trends for this season so you can beat the books and make some money on the road to the World Series

BET ON BULLPENS

While starting pitchers are still the key to capping baseball in October, bettors will want to put more consideration into how each teams’ bullpen is made up. Manager are quick to yank a stumbling starter or look for a better matchup in clutch spots, so relievers get a lot more run in the postseason. Be mindful of a team’s bullpen depth and reliability, especially when it comes to the closer, and also keep close tabs on bullpen use and how much these relief arms have left in the tank as a series goes on.

Knowing which bullpens have a tendency to blow saves also gives you insight into which teams to fade on late-inning live bets. 

Here are the playoff teams ranked in order of regular season bullpen ERA:

NATIONAL LEAGUE
TEAM BULLPEN ERA BULLPEN BAA SAVE PERCENTAGE
Los Angeles Dodgers 3.78 ERA .220 BAA 60.27 %
St. Louis Cardinals 3.82 ERA .219 BAA 71.23 %
Atlanta Braves 4.18 ERA .252 BAA 65.67 %
Milwaukee Brewers 4.39 ERA .235 BAA 64.10 %
Washington Nationals 5.66 ERA .266 BAA 57.97 %
AMERICAN LEAGUE
Tampa Bay 3.66 ERA .231 BAA 63.01 %
Houston Astros 3.75 ERA .226 BAA 70.15 %
Oakland Athletics 3.89 ERA .232 BAA 59.21 %
NY Yankees 4.08 ERA .242 BAA 64.10 %
Minnesota Twins 4.17 ERA .256 BAA 69.44 %
 

HOT HITTERS

If a team is in the playoffs, chances are they’re solid through the first five bats of the lineup. But it’s those guys at the back of the order that can really make a difference in these close games. Baseball bettors can find value grabbing a team with solid options at the No. six, seven, eight, and nine spots and should also look at what the lineup has for pinch hitters off the bench. October has made plenty a hero of those back-up bats over the years, and having a reliable pinch hitter in reserve can be key to getting those clutch runs. 

The Dodgers have the most dangerous hitters in the NL at the bottom of their order while - to nobody's surprise - the Yankees have the deepest batting order in the AL. Keep in mind that the DH spot makes these batting numbers higher for AL teams. 

NATIONAL LEAGUE
TEAM SLUGGING PERCENTAGE FROM BATTING ORDER POSITIONS 6-9
Los Angeles Dodgers .428 
St. Louis Cardinals .402
Atlanta Braves .391
Milwaukee Brewers .387
Washington Nationals .385
AMERICAN LEAGUE
New York Yankees .484
Minnesota Twins .464
Houston Astros .431
Oakland Athletics .415
Tampa Bay Rays .401

STARTER STAMINA

Depending on how deep a pitching rotation goes, some starters will be called to action on short rest during the playoffs. In those spots, baseball bettors should take a close look at a starter’s previous effort – checking how much tread it left on the tires – as well as how the pitcher reacts to minimal rest. Some hurlers welcome the challenge while others just don’t have the gas tank to go deep into those starts on short rest. 

This year the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals have the strongest starting rotations on paper and as you can see from the chart below, they are the teams which pitch significantly better on four days of rest than five.

  STARTERS ON 4 DAYS OF REST STARTERS ON 5 DAYS OF REST
TEAM STARTS ERA BAA STARTS ERA BAA
Los Angeles Dodgers 42 2.34 .194 75 3.58 .238
Houston Astros 82 3.04 .219 55 4.02 .215
Washington Nationals 67 3.22 .229  65 3.94 .237
Atlanta Braves 69 3.64 .247 63 4.32 .260
St. Louis 72 3.66 .246 54 3.67 .250
Tampa Bay Rays 45 3.72 .227 54 3.79 .243
Minnesota Twins 61 4.54 .264 58 4.12 .256
Milwaukee Brewers 64 4.79 .269 67 3.95 .246
Oakland Athletics  46 4.96 .262 73 4.08 .257
New York Yankees 58 5.04 .270 54 4.02 .245
 

LATE-INNING LIVE BETS

Postseasons are made for live betting, especially the Major League playoffs. Late-game heroics are gold for live bettors, so always be on the lookout for those opportunities. Games tend to go according to plan in the opening five innings, when both teams march out their selected starters. But when the bullpens get involved and the pressure builds, that’s when it gets interesting.

Bettors can find in-game value on home teams or pregame favorites trailing by a slim margin in the final innings of a playoff game, offering solid returns to comeback and win. Live bettors can also grab good middling opportunities when it comes to postseason totals.

Here are the playoff squads, ranked in order of runs scored between the seventh and ninth innings:

TEAMS RUNS/GAME FROM THE 7TH TO 9TH INNING
Atlanta Braves 1.78
Los Angeles Dodgers 1.73
Washington Nationals 1.72
Minnesota Twins 1.68
Tampa Bay Rays 1.62
New York Yankees 1.60
Milwaukee Brewers 1.58
Houston Astros 1.52
St. Louis Cardinals 1.43
Oakland Athletics 1.41

For more baseball betting insight during the playoffs, visit our MLB home page and be sure to follow us on Twitter @Covers for the best MLB news and notes. 

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