This article is part of our MLB Betting series.
Previous day: 3-0, +4.19 RWBucks
Season: 23-34, -13.53 RWBucks
It was a rough April, but we ended it on a good note with a perfect night, including two very easy wins. It doesn't mean all that much, of course. "Momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher," as Earl Weaver said. That translates, in this space, to, "momentum is tomorrow's tastiest team total."
We're in that netherworld where we start to let go of our preseason evaluations in favor of weighting what we're seeing on the field. In doing that, though, it's important to tease out what parts of a team's record are real, and what are the illusion. I can tell you the Twins are 10-16, and you get one picture. What if I tell you that more than half their losses are in non-standard games? The Twins are 0-4 in seven-inning games, and 0-5 when their contests go to extra innings, with the Calvinball rules. How do you view the Twins knowing they're 10-7 in regular nine-inning games?
The Dodgers feel like the most disappointing 17-12 team ever. Well, of those 12 losses, a third have come in extra innings. They're outscoring their opponents by 45 runs, more than 1.5 a game; only the Astros have even a +30 run differential. What's more informative, the record or the run differential?
You're reading me today in no small part because I fell in with Clay Davenport 30 years ago. He still calculates and publishes the statistics on which Baseball Prospectus. Per Clay's data, here are the teams whose underlying performance most exceeds their record:
Here's the other side of that list:
Loosely speaking, we're going to be looking to bet on the first group, and against the second group. Not every day, not blindly, but there should be value in each direction.
It would have been a great button if some of these teams had been playing each other tonight. There is no first-group/second-group matchup, but we can still put these numbers in play.
The Mets send a back-end starter in Lucchesi to the mound on a night when they won't have Edwin Diaz (back) or possibly Trevor May (pitched Saturday and Sunday). That makes for a thin staff against a finally healthy Cards lineup. Adam Wainwright, coming off a complete game against the Phillies, got an unexpected extra few days of rest after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. 1 RWBuck.
Daniel Lynch, the Royals' supplemental first-round pick in 2018, makes his MLB debut tonight, having wowed the team at the alternate site. Lynch hasn't pitched in a game since 2019, and makes his MLB debut by skipping Double-A and Triple-A. With Lynch effectively a cipher, I'm very much falling back on those numbers above in taking the Indians tonight. 1 RWBuck.
I've made as many Rockies jokes as anyone, but even this year's team, playing through an embarrassing moment for the franchise, maintains the largest home-field advantage in baseball (8-7 at home, 2-11 on the road). Their ace is on the mound, at home, against a team whose record doesn't reflect its underlying performance very well. 1.5 RWBucks.
No underdogs and no totals. Well, that's not the plan at all. Let's see what happens.