Inexperienced sports bettors can have trouble betting on dogs, and this is particularly true in baseball. Last week I outlined several areas that I examine when looking to possibly back a live underdog. Here are some more.
Pitcher Home/Away Performance: The home/road breakdowns on pitchers are especially fascinating, offering not only insight into what makes certain pitchers tick, but even where linemakers come up with some of their numbers, both sides and totals.
Jose Lima started 6-2 for the Dodgers. What was evident from breaking down the numbers was that Lima – always a great control pitcher – took full advantage of huge Dodger stadium. He started 4-0 at home (2.50 ERA) where he held opponents to a .221 batting average. Yet, on the road, a very different pitcher emerged, one who was very hittable. Lima had a 5.63 road ERA where opponents hit .284 off him.
You need to break down all players, not just pitchers, carefully like this. So, if Lima is a road dog, for example, I might be less inclined to back L.A. But if he’s a home dog, then it might be time to take a serious look at backing him and the Dodgers.
50-50 Chance: Sometimes after doing all the research and compiling data, I find that a game seems to be rated evenly. For instance, the pitchers are comparable, the visiting team is able to score consistently on the road, both teams have been playing well over the last week. Yet, in what should be roughly a pick ‘em game, the home team is a considerable favorite. Naturally, this would be the time to back the dog, as there is value. In short, if a game is rated evenly and either team has a 50-50 chance, in my judgment, of winning, then I’m getting extra value with +135 or +140 dogs.
East Coast, West Coast Trip: Long road trips are common over the course of 162 games. Visiting teams that are favored despite flying a long way can offer good go-against spots. When the Red Sox are playing on Monday, for example, then traveling all the way to Anaheim to play the next night, they could be favored with one of their top pitchers going. But that travel-factor could give a significant edge to the home dog. More so than if, say, the Indians are flying to play the White Sox the next night. Keep tabs on how many time zones a team may be crossing and if they are playing in a back-to-back spot.
If A Pitcher is Hot: This appears obvious, though it is a sometimes overlooked area. A pitcher may have a poor overall ERA, but I look at his last three or four starts to see if he’s as consistently bad as his overall numbers suggest. Many times, particularly with young pitchers, you find hurlers who are getting significantly better. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are a good example. They have a very young staff and last month the whole team went on a long winning streak that surprised the baseball world. Obviously, the young pitchers were throwing much better during that streak than they had been back in May, so a hot pitcher as a dog can offer solid betting value. <br><br>