Mother Nature can play havoc with sports bettors when it comes to handicapping MLB odds on a day-to-day basis. The weather and elements have a large say in how a game plays out, and can have very different effects depending on the time of year.
With the MLB schedule spanning the spring, summer and fall, baseball bettors will want to keep a close eye on the weather reports around the major leagues.
Here’s how to factor weather into your MLB bets:
For the most part, baseball doesn’t do rain. When you’re throwing a hard ball at 100 mph and swinging a heavy bat trying to hit said ball, safety is a big concern and umps will call for the tarps if it gets too wet. But that’s not to say baseball won’t take place in mist or light rain.
Rain can have an impact on how a pitcher grips the ball, so those pitchers relying on breaking balls – which require specific grips – could lack command if the weather get wet and wild. Pitchers are also left standing on the mound in the middle of a rain storm, while batters get to seek shelter inside the dugout. Getting soaked and cold can leave pitchers tight and uncomfortable, which could lead to bad throws or shorter appearances.
When it does rain enough for umpires to delay or postpone the game, there are some other factors bettors can consider. Depending on how far a pitcher has gone into a game before it was delayed, you may not see that arm again on the mound if action returns. If they do return from a lengthy layoff, the pitcher could be cold and out of rhythm. There could be some opportunity to jump in the live in-game market and play against pitchers in this spot or with the Over.
And if a game is fully postponed due to rain, there could be a double header set for the next day. Given that situation, MLB bettors should take a long look at bullpens – especially as it pertains to the first game of the double header. If a team digs deep into its relievers in Game 1, they may be hesitant to turn to the bullpen in Game 2 – even if the starter struggles early on. You can find value going against those thinning bullpens and also with the Over.
One more thing to consider when capping games with possible wet weather is that a soggy playing surface is a slow playing surface, which means ground balls are slowed down and easier to field compared to a dry fast surface. This could give an advantage to ground-ball pitchers and teams with solid infield defense.
When it comes to outdoor sporting events, wind is the most influential factor. Baseball is no exception. Taking a look at wind speed and direction is a must-do for any baseball bettor handicapping a game played in an open-air stadium.
There are a handful of certain ballparks that change dramatically with different wind conditions, none more so than Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Windy City lives up to its nickname, and many sportsbooks won’t set a total on Chicago Cubs games until the morning when they have a better idea how the wind is blowing. A strong gust blowing toward the bleachers can turn pop flys into home runs, while a wind pushing toward home plate can keep the ball inside the park.
Baseball bettors should measure those wind conditions against the team and pitching matchups. A starter who allows more fly balls could get dinged for home runs if the winds are blowing toward the outfield, while a groundball pitcher may not be impacted as much. Some lineups swing for the fences, and could get more power from the gusty gaels compared to teams that play contact small ball.
Hot and cold
Temperatures range at either end of the mercury during baseball season. It’s nothing to see snow in the early workings of the MLB calendar and then plus-100 degree weather come the summer, only to be cooled off again in the fall.
Capping the cold is an underrated and underused edge in baseball betting. Often times, MLB bettors can find a West Coast or Southern ball club in Colorado, Cleveland or Chicago in early April, when game-time temperatures have been known to hover around freezing. Those players, used to warmer climates may not respond as well to the chilly environment.
On top of that, pitchers can find themselves frigid on the mound with their hands stinging with every pitch and struggling to get a good grip on the baseball in those climates. Batters, however, can find warmth in heated bullpens before making their trip to the plate.
As the weather warms up in the summer, some locations challenge teams with searing temperatures and high humidity. Spots like Arlington in Texas can turn up the heat on opponents, serving up starters like eggs in a frying pan. Some MLB handicappers turn to heavier-set starting pitchers in these situations, rather than lighter hurlers, simply because they aren’t drained as quickly by the heat and can go deeper into a start.
Humidity, much like wind, can have a major impact on fly balls. In the dog days of summer, balls tend to carry much further which means a deep fly ball that would be a warning-track out in May is now a home run in August. This drastic shift in distance can also be seen in domed stadiums that open the roof in the summer months. Places like the Rogers Centre in Toronto and Chase Field in Arizona can give life to deep fly balls if the roof is open and the humidity index is high. Finding out if the roof will be opened or closed can help give you an edge with these types of ballparks.
Be sure to check out our MLB Weather page regularly for the latest forecasts on all the ball games for that day.