This article is part of our MLB Betting series.
Previous day: 8-3, +2.93 RWBucks
Season: 15-18, -3.14 RWBucks
Well, spraying the board help break the slump. The only downside is that sensible money management, a lot of half-unit bets, limited the return to about three units, cutting the season-long deficit in half. It's unlikely that we'll do that too often – maybe a Friday thing? – but putting some Ws on the board certainly helped the mindset.
It's still so incredibly early in the season, and the challenge of April is always to remember that this isn't football. Most teams have played about 10% of their schedule, and that's nothing in baseball. I noted last night that while the Yankees are 5-10, six of the last seven teams to win the World Series in a full season had stretches of 5-10 or worse. That's baseball, where even good teams will look bad for a few weeks, and vice versa.
For gambling, you're balancing your preseason projections, into which went so much time and effort and research, against the information gained over 18 days. There's surely some signal in there, but it's hard to tease out from the noise. Kyle Hendricks has a 6.92 ERA with five homers allowed. Dane Dunning has a 0.60 ERA and a 16/2 K/BB. The Red Sox lead the AL in runs, OBP, and SLG. Patrick Corbin has an ERA higher than the year in which he's pitching.
My lean is to still weight my preseason expectations fairly heavily, while being aware of traps like confirmation bias, and looking for evidence of true skill-level changes in both players and teams. To some extent, it will be about avoiding investments in spots where there is a lot of uncertainty and sticking to where I am confident in my evaluations. I don't mind making more bets, but the single best weapon in your arsenal is that they have to post a line on every game, but you don't have to bet any of them.
6 p.m. Indians (Zach Plesac) +102 over White Sox (Carlos Rodon). A week ago in this same matchup in Chicago, the Sox were a -113/-105 favorite at DraftKings. The books haven't overreacted to that game, in which Plesac didn't make it out of the first and Rodon threw a no-hitter. The line has moved a little, accounting for the change in venue, but it's still close to even. This is getting the better starter at home against a pitcher who, even with an extra day's rest, is coming off his highest-effort outing in two years. 1 RWBuck.
7 p.m. Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) +115 over Nationals (Patrick Corbin). Corbin got rich by featuring his slider 40% of the time in his last few years in Arizona, then continued doing so his first two seasons with the Nationals. I don't know exactly what it means, then, that in two starts he's gone back to his four-seam fastball at the expense of that slider and gotten hammered. When a pitcher is avoiding a pitch, it can mean he doesn't trust it...or that throwing it hurts. I was fading Corbin a few years back based on the track record of pitchers who maxed out their sliders – they all broke down. Maybe I wasn't wrong, just too early. 1 RWBuck.
10 p.m. Padres (Chris Paddack) -120 over Brewers (Corbin Burnes). This is mostly a bullpen play. Craig Counsell has been conservative with Josh Hader over the last two years; Hader pitched Sunday and Monday and is unlikely to go tonight. J.P. Feyereisen also pitched in two straight. Even if Burnes shoves again, he's not someone who goes deep into games, and the Brewers could have a hard time getting six to nine outs in the late innings tonight. 1 RWBuck.
You'll notice there are no totals on the card, even with the Rockies playing at home and a 10.5 number on their game. I am just not sure what to do with totals in an environment down half a run a game from 2019. Is it April weather, a small sample, or have the changes to the baseball really changed run scoring? At least for today, let's just sit back and gather information.