This article is part of our MLB Betting series.
Previous day: 1-1, +.38 RWBucks
Season: 6-3, +3.43 RWBucks
Well, that was a kick in the head. The under in yesterday's Red Sox/Rays game was good through nine, good through ten, a push with one out to go in the 11th, and landed a loss. Beats will happen, but this one brought up an issue worth digging into a bit.
Of the nine bets I've handed out so far, five have been unders, a fact that surprises me. I may be ahead of the game betting that the new baseball will drag down run scoring enough to make it an actionable wager. Those bets are 3-2 so far. Or 3-2*, since I'm still cranky about last night. It may be that the extra-inning rule – every half-inning beginning with the top of the tenth starts with a runner on second base – makes baseball unders unplayable. Our edge on any set of bets isn't that large, and if even 5-10% of unders go into extra innings, that edge is quickly erased.
Why is that? Well, under bets are somewhat more likely to reach extra innings, for one. A low-scoring game is more like to be tied...1-1, 2-2, 3-3 are more common scores than 6-6 or 7-7. The bigger problem, though, is the massive change in run environment that the carnival rule creates. At the start of any given inning, a team's run expectation is approximately half a run. That figure bounces around based on the overall run environment, from .45 runs to .53 runs over the six seasons prior to 2020, but it's a good rule of thumb. With a runner on second and nobody out, a team's run expectation roughly doubles to 1.1 runs.
So a bet we made in a run environment, broadly speaking, of 8.5 to 9 runs per game is now being played in a run environment of 17 to 18 runs per game. The average expectation in just a single extra inning is about 2.2 runs. It's a rare under bet that goes to the tenth able to fade that. It's not that you still can't win in extras – two of our five under bets have gone to extras, one has won and one has lost – but the EV lost is enormous. There's also a mental grind to these, which for casual players is a real thing. Some pros make their bets and go to bed, never sweating the games. For most people, though, and certainly the target audience here, the fun of watching your bet play out is part of what you're buying.
The risk of an extra-inning game is higher, and the run environment under the new rules roughly doubles, and it's no fun to watch. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln...
On to today's action.
12 p.m. Nationals/Braves ov... aw, shoot. I really liked that one.
We won't have too many Wednesdays with schedules this spread out, with this many day games. Of 15 scheduled games, just two are night games, and even those are starting at 6:30 local time. I'd be hard-pressed to find another non-Sunday with no 7 p.m. local starts in the last 25 years.
(6-4 top second. Grrr.)
In any case, that's a great slate for a fan or a bettor, and a lousy one for, very specifically, this column and its author. We'll sigh heavily and focus on the back half of the card. Just a reminder that all our lines are taken from DraftKings unless otherwise specified.
4 p.m. Marlins -104 over Cardinals. This has been a very good series, with the Cardinals taking the first two games 4-1 and 4-2. They used both Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes in both wins, making the two unlikely to pitch today. Even a so-so Marlins pen should have an edge once the starters leave. As for the first five or six innings, Pablo Lopez is just the latest Marlins starter to show steady improvement in recent seasons, adding a cutter last year and increasing his changeup usage to better retire left-handed batters. There's a pretty good case he, and not the more heralded Jack Flaherty, is the better starter in today's matchup. 1 RWBuck
8:30 p.m. Diamondbacks/Rockies over 11.5 (+100). There's enough of a difference between 11 and 11.5 to keep this from being our first two-unit bet, but it's a good one. Madison Bumgarner and Antonio Senzatela have low strikeout rates, and allowing contact at Coors Field, humidor or no, is doom. Neither of these bullpens is good and both were worked – 13 relievers were used – in a 13-inning 10-8 contest Monday night. "Bet the over at Coors Field" is as square as it gets, I know, but even squares cash tickets sometimes. 1.5 RWBucks